When we talk about the artistic splendor in the 10th and 13th centuries, we are referring to the Romanesque. This movement developed in Spain in a remarkable way, turning our country in one of the most important references. But inside Spain, there is a region that stands out among the others: Palencia. Palencia has the biggest concentration of Romanesque monuments in Europe.
That’s why we want to show you a small Romanesque Route through Palencia. It has many monuments, so it’s difficult to talk about all, but we’re going to try to show some of the most relevant. Do you want to come with us?
Santa María la Real Monastery, Aguilar de Campoo
We start our Romanesque Route through Palencia in the Santa María la Real Monastery. This building was built between the 12th and 13th centuries. Despite this, the first news about the monastery surfaced in 1020. It is organized around a big cloisters and its most symbolic part is the bell gable.
Even though it’s been remodelled many times, it has become one of our National Historic-Artistic Monuments. Now, the Romanesque Studies Center is located there.
Santa María de Mave Monastery
This monastery, declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument and National Artistic Treasure in the Cultural Heritage Site category, is one of the most relevant of our selection. Located in the Romanesque Route through Palencia at about 10 km (6 miles) from Aguilar de Campoo, it is characterized by its colored facade. Its sandstone bricks tint it with a unique red color with grey flecks. Another important feature of this monastery is its amazing dome support, built in the 13th century.
San Salvador de Cantamuda, La Pernía
This church has two special elements: the occidental facade and the altar. In the occidental facade you’ll find a bell gable with a double bell hole, one of its standout features. Why is its altar emblematic? The Romanesque columns that support it make it a special piece and a compulsory stop in the Romanesque Route through Palencia.
Built between the end of the 12th century and the beggining of the 13th, it was declared Cultural Heritage Site in 1993, like the ones before.
San Zoilo Monastery, Carrión de los Condes
This monastery of the Romanesque Route through Palencia has suffered many changes. The first religious order that was there were the Benedictines. Afterwards, the Clunic Order and the Jesuit Order moved here. Nowadays it’s a hotel. It was originally consecrated to San Juan Bautista, but now the devotion has changed.
A recent restoration allowed to discover the Romanesque facade of the 11th century church, which was covered by the actual building. Like many of these buildings from Palencia, it was named Cultural Heritage Site in 2002 and is an interesting stop in the French Way to Santiago.
San Martín de Tours church, Frómista
In the 11th century, this temple was already mentioned in the historic Codex Calixtinus. This means that it was already visited by pilgrims many centuries ago. Considered one of the main European Romanesque prototypes, it was designated National Monument in 1894.
This building of the Romanesque Route through Palencia stands out on the outside and on the inside. The exterior is completed with a dome octogonal base, a transept and 2 cylindrical towers in both sides of the principal facade. Inside its beauty and balance leave visitors breathless.
San Juan Bautista de Moarves
Despite being a building with one only nave, what makes San Juan Bautista de Moarves an important building is its south facade. The facade is formed by 5 half-point archivolts. In the top there’s a unique frieze: in the center is the Christ in enthroned majesty, surrounded of the 4 evangelists in their animal representations; and on the sides we can see the apostles, 6 on each side.
It was named Artistic Historic Monument in 1931.
Text: Fátima González-Besada Gómez