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Visigothic/Pre-Romanesque architecture for beginners

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Here we go on a follow-up to the wildly popular thread on Romanesque architecture for beginners.

Remember - I know nothing about this, except what I write below. There are other members with similar lack of knowledge, who would like to learn something. Please try to help us rather than confuse us with too much detail.

To summarize the time period very roughly: The Visigoths were a Germanic people who entered the Iberian Peninsula in the 5th Century. About 300 years later, the Visigothic kingdom was conquered by the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate in the 8th Century AD.

So, what are the key identifying features of Visigothic architecture, and interesting examples along any of the Camino routes? What changes then took place in the Pre-Romanesque period?

We'll likely need another thread to address the overall Muslim influence on architecture in Spain.
 
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mspath

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Cclearly,

Check the citations/descriptions in Wikipedia using a search for Visigothic in Spain and Portugal.




For your curriculum project in général have you considered making an online clue sheet/ map for each style?

MM
 
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VNwalking

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Please try to help us rather than confuse us with too much detail.
I'm a babe in the woods here, but still — I am fascinated by these rare gems.

So I'll start with the visuals in this thread:

I don't have the proper architectural language to describe what I'm seeing that is defining, but it's the rectangular 'look,' walls made of large blocks, few very small windows, and decoration with natural motifs

I hope somebody with more refined understanding can fill us in.

The only visigothic church I've seen with my own eyes rather than pictures is Santa Maria de Lara, which is sadly only a fragment of the original. But it's super special.

View media item 4874
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Check the citations/descriptions in Wikipedia using a search for Visigothic in Spain and Port
Thank you, @mspath !
Going there now...
 
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VNwalking

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The wikipedia article is very clear and not too technical. And I've already learned something. ☺️
This is what I meant by "rectangular look:"
Generally basilican in layout, sometimes a Greek cross plan or, more rarely, a combination of the two. The spaces are highly compartmentalised.
Basically what I see is a high-ceilinged central nave, with lower lean-to aisles on either side.

And:
Use of columns and pillars with Corinthian capitals of unique design
Here I need an example...I know what a Corinthian capital is looks like in general, but what is that unique Visigothic design?

This other link is way TMI for right now, @C clearly, but maybe bookmark it for later use. There's a good diagram of how the basic design of a basilica was changed and adapted over time.
 
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VNwalking

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Speaking of Santa Maria de Lara, here are some of the missing pieces of Visigothic carvings.
Jaw. Dropping.
Someone cluelessly used them as ornaments, moldering in their back garden!
:eek:

And from the end of the article:
The looted artworks could also be "essential" evidence in a debate raging among scholars about the exact age of the church, said Oxford University researcher David Addison.

Addison said some believed it was a 7th century building while others dated it to the 10th or 11th centuries.
I wonder if this debate is now settled?
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
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Cc,
To simplify an on-line clue sheet think of 3 pieces of paper.

Piece A is your top sheet/introduction to the project. On Piece A draw a simple horizontal line which is a time line/axis with 0 on the left to 2020 on the right. Name each style périod you describe under the appropriation time slot.

Piece B represents any style period.
On Piece B draw for any style period a vertical and write on it each possible attribute for that style citing a particular example.

Piece C is a map of locating the examples of Piece B; ie.the verso of Piece B. Making such a map is not difficult. I have done it easily; when my map below loads tap any blue marker for info÷photos.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1JwbTnytX_l4lMreBRklSVDZ27z


.
 
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alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
The only visigothic church I've seen with my own eyes rather than pictures is Santa Maria de Lara, which is sadly only a fragment of the original. But it's super special.
It is super super special, and well worth the (very short) detour off the Lana that gets you there.

Inside the carvings are even more spectacular than on the outside. There's what is claimed to be the oldest representation in Spain of Christ as Pantocrator

2018-10-31_13-21-16~3.jpg

A barely Christianised Sol Invictus

2018-10-31_13-22-23~4.jpg

And a, to my eye, almost entirely pagan Selene/Isis/Moon

DSC_0151.jpg
 
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what are the key identifying features of Visigothic architecture [...] What changes then took place in the Pre-Romanesque period?
I thought I had read recently on the forum a definition that said the term pre-Romanesque does not denote architecture of the period from, roughly, the end of the Roman Empire to the beginning of Romanesque architecture but denotes a style that developed into Romanesque, ie a sort of precursor perhaps. I can't find the post right now. I know little about the Visigoths and what traces are left of their reign in France and Spain, and I accepted this definition without questioning.

However, I now have doubts, having read the Wikipedia articles on Pre-Romanesque art and architecture in Wikipedia. Wikipedia articles contain many errors but all four language versions - EN, FR, ES, DE - say that the term denotes the period in architectural and artistic sculpture developed and deployed in Europe from about 500 AD to about 1000 AD. Only the EN article says that, alternatively, the term could also just denote late 8th century to early 11th century (roughly the start of Romanesque period).

I'm just putting this out here. The question about changes that took place may need to be rephrased, perhaps?
 
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IOW, my current understanding is that Visigothic architecture and sculpture is Pre-Romanesque while Pre-Romanesque is a much wider definition. Also I don't think that (Spanish) Visigothic architecture developed into Romanesque, as Romanesque spread from Italy and France into Spain. I guess all this sounds a little abstract and theoretical but it helps perhaps to see clearer what is what and how it fits together or not.

BTW, when I look at photos of Visigothic sculpture and when I remember the only piece of pre-Romanesque sculpture I saw on the Camino Francés I always think that it is much "flatter" than Romanesque and Roman sculpture. Total layperson speaking here in total layperson's language. 🙃
 
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Pelegrin

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In the group of Germanics, the Suabians had a kingdom that lasted 150 years in Gallaecia. There isn't anything left of them. No palace in Braga (the capital), no churches. Santa Comba de Bande was built when the Visigoths took over. I don't know if Sao Fructuoso de Braga was a Suabian church before the Visigoths.
Maybe because they were Arians most time (and the Galaicoromans Catholics) they didn't build any good building for their churches just in case it would have been destroyed by the Galaicoromans.
 
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Another interesting example is San Pedro De Nave which is on the Camino Portugues de la Via de la Plata outside El Campillo. It is just under 30km walk from Zamora

I can't find my photos of the place but here is the Wikipedia page

San Pedro de la Nave - Wikipedia
Pictures:

And some more info here:
 
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Another interesting example is San Pedro De Nave
Thank you for posting this. Below are four capitals from San Pedro de Nave. Questions to the experts:
  • Are these capitals typical examples of the style?
  • Would you call the shape of capital and column Corinthian?
    (If yes to both questions, this would go quite a bit towards answering @VNwalking's earlier question.)
  • The motif of birds picking at fruit - is that typical for the style or did I simply read too many times the same description of the same Visigothic sculpture showing birds picking at fruit, in particular grapes?
  • Does anyone want to have an explanation of what the scenes show that have people in them (bonus question and I am happy to provide the explanation ;))?
Capitals - Visigothic.jpg
 
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Felice

Active Member
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SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
I'm probably wrong, but this is my reading of the carvings:
Photo 3 is Abraham being stopped by God from offering Isaac as a sacrifice, with the ram caught in the thicket visible.
Photo 2 is Jesus in the wilderness being ministered to by wild animals, including leopards and lions.
Photos 1 and 3 have the same bird, which I suspect is a pelican, a symbol of Christ. They are eating either grapes or pomegranates. There seem to be 2 fruits involved. Grapes have symbolism, as do pomegranates. I wondered if the tight
Note that the birds are also in the friezes above capitals 2 and 3, whilst there is a face and more fruit above 1 and 4.
I'm wondering if the leaf in the frieze of photo 4 is a palm leaf. And if the bunch of fruit which is not obviously round, is a pineapple?
 
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Photo 3 is Abraham being stopped by God from offering Isaac as a sacrifice, with the ram caught in the thicket visible.
Photo 2 is Jesus in the wilderness being ministered to by wild animals, including leopards and lions.
I'm delighted to read your comments ☺️. Your reading of photo 3 is correct. The person in photo 2 is not Jesus but you've got the wild animals right - it's an Old Testament scene: Daniel among the lions. I saw the same scene on the CF, also pre-Romanesque. I don't know at all about the birds and the fruits - I vaguely remember things I've read about possible interpretations of Romanesque motifs that are similar to those in photos 1 and 4 but I would have to read up on it again.

Actually a bit of a fascinating topic - identifying the birds and plants and fruit (not what they stand for in the way of iconography when their purpose goes beyond mere decoration) and where the artist found inspiration. But @C clearly may perhaps tell us soon that this topic is reserved for the intermediate or advanced course. 😉
 
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alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
As well as San Pedro de la Nave and Santa María de Lara, another surviving visigothic church is Santa Lucía del Trampal, a short detour or alternative route from the Vía de la Plata between Mérida and Cáceres.

I think it's my favourite of the three. It hasn't got the exquisite carvings of San Pedro or Santa María but the structure is more impressive, with its three naves. And its position is glorious: serene and solitary out in the dehesa, surrounded by oaks, with a hot spring nearby. The place was sacred to the celtiberians and their spring goddess Ataegina. The Romans, as they did, adopted her and merged her into their equivalent, Proserpine, and the present structure has been used by Christians since about 700AD.

IMG_20171112_133307.jpg
 
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Pelegrin

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Is the building at Santa Maria del Naranjo and the church of San Miguel de Lilo near Oviedo regarded as Visigothic?
Visigothic is what was built in the Visigoth kingdom before the Arabs entered Spain. Those two churches from the 9th century are defined as "Arte Preromanico Asturiano" .
In reality king Ramiro I was of Visigoth origin and probably also the builders. That explains the similarities.
 

mspath

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Year of past OR future Camino
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Is the building at Santa Maria del Naranjo and the church of San Miguel de Lilo near Oviedo regarded as Visigothic

Félice

According to this description which does not mention Visigothic they are described as PreRomanesque.

Edited: Please see post #24 below with correct link.
Mea culpa.
 
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A barely Christianised Sol Invictus. And a, to my eye, almost entirely pagan Selene/Isis/Moon
I picked this up by chance on some website: The Latin words SOL and LUNA can be seen inside the circle around the faces of the anthropomorphic sun and moon. Latin is like French and Spanish: the grammatical gender for sol / sun is masculine and for luna / moon it is feminine. However, looking at the images (hair, clothes), one could think that it is the opposite, that the sun is shown as a female and the moon as a male. Die Sonne is female in German and der Mond is male, and the same applies for the older Germanic languages, to which Visigothic belongs. The location of the church and the inscription is Latin/Mediterranean but the sculptor's mental-cultural image of the cosmos is Germanic. Cute, isn't it ☺️.

The website says that the moon's face has a goatee but I can't see it in the photo, at least not clearly.

Sol Luna.jpg
 
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The website even says that the moon face has a goatee but I can't see it in the photo, at least not clearly.
I found a better photo of the stone sculpture. This personified Visigothic moon does indeed have a beard. ☺️

(Click to enlarge)
Bearded moon.jpg
 
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biarritzdon

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Thank you for posting this. Below are four capitals from San Pedro de Nave. Questions to the experts:
  • Are these capitals typical examples of the style?
  • Would you call the shape of capital and column Corinthian?
    (If yes to both questions, this would go quite a bit towards answering @VNwalking's earlier question.)
  • The motif of birds picking at fruit - is that typical for the style or did I simply read too many times the same description of the same Visigothic sculpture showing birds picking at fruit, in particular grapes?
  • Does anyone want to have an explanation of what the scenes show that have people in them (bonus question and I am happy to provide the explanation ;))?
View attachment 88275
I would have trouble calling this a Corinthian columns. Corinthian is the third order of Greek columns: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Corinthian was normal an acanthus leaf motif.
 
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JillGat

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Is there a chart somewhere, outlining the time periods and regions when these cultures existed in Iberia: Celtic, Roman, Pre-Romanesque, Swabian, Visagoth, etc? I'm so ignorant and I really love reading and seeing pictures of these beautiful ancient churches. Oh, and there is an old church a couple (who met on the Camino) bought and were renovating somewhere before (?) Zubiri on the CF? I can't remember the name of it now. Has anyone learned more about that old place?
 

Farmer Col

Aussie Col
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Coming from a country that has only had European settlement for 200 years, I find this topic very enlightening. I have nothing constructive to add, but be assured that I am following it with great interest. Keep the photos coming so that I know what to look out for on my next visit.
 
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NorthernLight

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After sacking Rome in 408, 409, & 410, the Visigoths moved westward into southern France and later into Spain. They claimed control of Spain by around 476. It’s noteworthy that even after the Visigoths conquered Spain, they continued to have links with the Frankish empire and intermarried with them. (For example, Athanagild, king of Hispania & Septimania, c554-567, married off his daughter Brunhild to Sigibert I, and his daughter Galswintha to Chilperic I.) So there continued to be opportunities for cultural interchanges.

They didn’t disappear with the Arab conquest of Iberia, but remained rulers of the northern kingdoms and had become intermixed with the pre-existing populations. They weren’t ‘Visigoths’ anymore; they were now locals.
 
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I think noting the Visigoth defeat to the "moors" in the 8th C makes a general proposition for dating structures a little easier. But I would also note that the old palace on the Oviedo has a definite rosette window and so defies Visigoth aesthetic features right there in spite of its obvious heft.... and it also has those columned arches, so yeah: I'd have guessed Pre-Romanesque with features that might have come from very early Gothic ideas transported from France (probably).

Am loving this thread!! I try to work out as much as I can by building features and general dates of construction, and I'm loving the detail photos people are providing, and introductions to places and structures I've yet to see.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Is there a chart somewhere, outlining the time periods and regions when these cultures existed in Iberia: Celtic, Roman, Pre-Romanesque, Swabian, Visagoth, etc?
Charts displaying a timeline and stylistic périods linked to a map are being considered. Stay tuned for further info.
Yes, I'm considering it. But starting from scratch, I could be slow. I'm sure it already exists somewhere on the internet, but if I made one myself, then I would come to understand and remember the content. Meanwhile, you might be interested in a portion of that chart - History of the Visigoths in Spain in 3 minutes and 43 seconds. At the end, it names 4 notable Visigoth churches, for which I've rounded up some other links. Some of them have already been mentioned above.
my current understanding is that Visigothic architecture and sculpture is Pre-Romanesque while Pre-Romanesque is a much wider definition.
That's one thing I have learned, so far, so I hope it is true.
identifying the birds and plants and fruit (not what they stand for in the way of iconography when their purpose goes beyond mere decoration) and where the artist found inspiration. But @C clearly may perhaps tell us soon that this topic is reserved for the intermediate or advanced course.
I think some brief side discussion of bird, plant and fruit identification is acceptable in this thread, as long as we don't have too much Latin or obscure (to me) iconography. I can accept a local bird or tree! 🤓 🤣🧑‍🎓

[Santa Maria de Lara]... is super super special, and well worth the (very short) detour off the Lana that gets you there.
What are your units of very-shortness? Google maps shows it as about 10 km off the Lana.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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Bringing in a few things from the thread about these churches we had this summer – truly a crowdsourced wonder because there's so much collective knowledge here on the forum.

First, a list that gives a summary of Visigothic/pre-Romanesque churches in various places, and what Camino you can access them from:
to put everything on one page, here is a summary list from this thread, our crowdsourced camino connections (there are some duplications when a place is accessible from 2 caminos; @peregrina2000 , @alansykes , @Rebekah Scott , @Pelegrin , @oursonpolaire, and anyone who knows better, please feel free to correct me if I have missed or misrepresented something, or to add to the list! Thanks.):
,
Camino de Madrid
Wamba

Side trip from Norte
San Juan Apostol y Evangelista (Santianes de Pavia)(6.9 km from Muros de Nalon)

Norte to Primitivo
Valdediós

Primitivo (Oviedo and environs; distances from city centre) —
Camara Santa of Oviedo Cathedral
Santa Maria del Naranco (3.2km NW)
Santa Maria de Bendones (6.4km SE; may be near Camino de las Asturias)
San Julián de los Prados (1.3km NE)
San Pedro de Nora (11km W)
San Tirso (19km SE)
San Miguel de Lillo (3.4km NW)
San Adriano de Tuñon (Near Rio Trubia, ~20km SW)

San Olav
Santa Maria de Lara (Quintanillas de las Viñas)

San Salvador
Santa Cristina de Lena

Side trip from Frances
Santa Maria de los Arcos in Tricio (2.6km SE of Najera, closer to the camino)
San Miguel de Escalada (14.3km NE of Mansilla de las Mulas)
Iglesia de Santiago in Peñalba de Santiago (from Ponferrada or El Acebo)

Side trip from Sanabres
Santa Comba de Bande (~49km SW of Ourense)

side trip from Vdlp
Santa Lucía de Trampal
San Pedro de la Nave (22 km from Zamora)

Vadiniense
San Miguel de Escalada

Zamorano Portugués
San Pedro de la Nave (22 km from Zamora)

Then about roots and dating—
I went back to this other thread because we had been talking about how some of these structures had been built atop Roman temples, which had in turn been built atop Neolithic structures. I didn't find exactly what I was thinking of, but from a distance have a couple of months was impressed but how much ground we had covered:
I wonder if some of those Visigothics churches could have been Swabians before.
There are, of course, more rabbit holes. The several-centuries that constitute the segue from late Roman Empire to something else were a complicated time, not just in Spain. So of course there is plenty of debate in professional circles about the Byzantine and Visigothic in Spain. Maybe it's TMI, but this blogpost was fascinating:
She describes Sta Maria de Trampal by saying "Who knows whether this is really ‘Visigothic’ in any meaningful way but it’s a really odd little building…"
A quote from this blog post is pertinent here:
Dr de los Ángeles, meanwhile, took a very critical view of the kind of art history that’s been done with early medieval churches in the Iberian Peninsula [...] and in general savaged categories like Mozarabic, Visigothic or Byzantine for this stuff which was all built by people with presumably only partial ideas of the Mediterranean’s interconnected æsthetics...

And...
Of them all, this is one place I really look forward to seeing, and it's so close to the Camino Frances:
OMG, San Miguel de la Escalada. From Gradefes to Mansilla de las Mulas on the Vadiniense, you pass right by. But it is only about 15 km from Mansilla de las Mulas, and it would be worth moving heaven and earth to get there.


Oh, and there is an old church a couple (who met on the Camino) bought and were renovating somewhere before (?) Zubiri on the CF? I can't remember the name of it now. Has anyone learned more about that old place?
The Abbey is after Zubiri, and it's Romanesque, 12th C. I remember seeing a post quite some time ago saying that they were closing, but I don't know for sure.
 
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VNwalking

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What are your units of very-shortness? Google maps shows it as about 10 km off the Lana.
Yes, it's one valley over from the Lana proper. But it's smack-dab on the Camino San Olav. So if you're walking the Lana and go straight to Burgos when you get to Covarrubias, you'd be missing out big time: there's a menhir, some dinosaur footprints, and this gem of a shrine.
 
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discussion of bird, plant and fruit identification is acceptable in this thread, as long as we don't have too much Latin or obscure (to me) iconography. I can accept a local bird or tree! 🤓 🤣🧑‍🎓
I’ll try to rein myself in. 🤣

I’m so fascinated by these “minor” details because it’s, to me, like deciphering a foreign script and because it provides a window into a distant world, into the minds and world views of those people who lived so long ago and invested so much into these buildings and into these sculptures. It was a world without books for anyone but a privileged few and a world without easy internet access to vast knowledge.
 
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It was a world without books for anyone but a privileged few and a world without easy internet access to vast knowledge.
And what an amazing access to knowledge we have! Warning: more Latin coming your way. 😉

I noticed the chiselled writing above the scene with the man between the two lions on one of the capitals of San Pedro de la Nave. I could make out the words leo for lion, Daniel which is the man's name and ubi for where and one or two more words. Typed it into a Google Search box. Bingo! Numerous hits, among them a Hispania Epigraphica, an online database of Roman (Latin) inscriptions from the Iberian Peninsula. 30,820 entries. Wow. This is the place to go to when you next stand in front of a stone slab with capital letters chiselled into it, including those pesky ?#¢‡°fl! abbreviations, and wonder what it wants to tell you. ;)

So, the writing on top of the capital in San Pedro de la Nave says: Ubi Daniel missus est in lacum leonum. I also thought that I had spotted a typo 🤣, that it ought to be locum as in local/place instead of lacum but I was wrong. It means in English: Where Daniel was put into the lions' den. It also looks like the writer ran out of space towards the end of the sentence. ☺️

Please forgive me, but I just HAD to share my newest discovery. 😇

Ubi Daniel.jpg
 
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I also spotted a typo 🤣, it ought to be locum as in local/place instead of lacum. And then the internet translation machines can translate it reasonably well into English: Where Daniel was put into the lions' place.
On further reflection: I got this wrong and the fabulous internet translation machines let me down badly 🤣. Lacus is a Latin word, as I now know, and it has two meanings according to Wiktionary: 1. a lake, pond, basin; reservoir; or 2. a tank, tub, vat, sink. Which is perhaps why the Daniel person appears to stand on wavy water in San Pedro de la Nave but the word lacus is usually translated as den in this context and this is the familiar expression: Daniel in the lions' den.

Bruce Springsteen wrote a song about himself waiting like Daniel in a lion's den.

Sorry! I got overexcited. But aren't these two creatures magnificent ☺️? Do stop occasionally when on camino and look more closely at stuff. Not always and everywhere of course. There is just too much of it.

Daniel on water.jpg
 
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peregrina2000

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While some of us were occupied with the strangest US Thanksgiving day in my life, the Visigoth thread took off! Wow, such interest in just one day. I love these places.

VN, I am supposing that when our Virtual Lana gets to Santo Domingo de Silos, we will steer it over to the San Olav, so we can all get back to Quintanilla de las Viñas, this time for you on a day when it is OPEN!

I’m wondering if I should hold off on the pre-romanesque, since maybe it will just send the thread in too many different directions. But whenever it’s appropriate, we should focus on the Asturian pre-romanesque, with one example on the Salvador (Santa Cristina de Lena), two on the Primitivo, about a 30 minute walk from the Cathedral (Naranco sites), and Valdediós (on the connector between the Norte and the Primitivo). They share, I think, some of the design features of the visigothic in terms of layout, but I think they deserve special attention.

Back to Visigothic — the Moorish Alcazaba in Mérida has some beautiful Visigothic carvings, which were undoubtedly spirited away from their original place. Thanks to everyone for those beautiful pictures and enlightening discussion.

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Rick of Rick and Peg

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I would have trouble calling this a Corinthian columns. Corinthian is the third order of Greek columns: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Corinthian was normal an acanthus leaf motif.
I did a bit of searching and found a few pieces written by people who seem to know their stuff that do use corinthian to describe non-greek corinthian capitals if the capitals match a pattern of an elaborately carved upside down bell holding a block form at the top. I don't what is taught in architecture school though (other than make sure things don't fall down). The capitals in post 15 above look like they could be described as corinthian (or at least corinthian-like) by that definition.
 
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Rick of Rick and Peg

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I found a good visigothic architecture page (in Spanish but Chrome seemed to do a good job of translating) at
I had difficulty navigating links though on my phone with its small type and my big finger.
 
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I found a good visigothic architecture page (in Spanish but Chrome seemed to do a good job of translating) at
Thank you for this link. It has a nice summary of characteristic features of Visigothic architecture. One of them is:
Sculptorical decoration of capitals and friezes is based on repetition of geometrical elements; also flowers, animales and sometimes human representations. Carving is beveled. There is no exent sculpture.

As a non-native speaker of English, I would have to look up "beveled" and even check up on "exent" although I am pretty certain that they are describing what I called "flattened" sculpture earlier in my layperson lingo.

I also liked that they write:

[The] 7th century does show a new way of constructing that we call Visogothic or rather Hispanovisigothic architecture, since it only exists in [the] Peninsular area [Spain and Portugal].
 
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But whenever it’s appropriate, we should focus on the Asturian pre-romanesque
Fantastic photos and examples!!!

So there is ... Asturian???

I fear our curriculum needs some tinkering 🤣.

The website linked by @Rick of Rick and Peg distinguishes between four major groups of architectural styles during this period and in Spain:
  • Paleo-Christian, North African, Byzantine and Transitional Visigothic architecture
  • Hispanic-Visigothic architecture
  • Asturian architecture
  • Mozárabe and Reconquista architecture
There are apparently no traces left of what is listed under the first point, apart from ruins and foundations walls, so we can ignore it ☺️. We've tackled some Visigothic architecture. So roll on Asturias, I'd say.
 
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Pelegrin

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I picked this up by chance on some website: The Latin words SOL and LUNA can be seen inside the circle around the faces of the anthropomorphic sun and moon. Latin is like French and Spanish: the grammatical gender for sol / sun is masculine and for luna / moon it is feminine. However, looking at the images (hair, clothes), one could think that it is the opposite, that the sun is shown as a female and the moon as a male. Die Sonne is female in German and der Mond is male, and the same applies for the older Germanic languages, to which Visigothic belongs. The location of the church and the inscription is Latin/Mediterranean but the sculptor's mental-cultural image of the cosmos is Germanic. Cute, isn't it ☺️.

The website says that the moon's face has a goatee but I can't see it in the photo, at least not clearly.

View attachment 88281

Very interesting!!. I think (it is just a speculation of mine) that the Arian Visigoths had their masses in a Germanic language despite they soon started to speak in Latin in Spain. It is the case of the Copts that have their masses in the original language of Egypt and speak Arab. The problem is that this church was built 100 years after the conversion of the Visigoths to Catholicism when they had to use Latin in their masses. Maybe a school of builders from the Arian period remained. Who knows.
 

peregrina2000

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We've tackled some Visigothic architecture. So roll on Asturias, I'd say.


Asturian pre-Romanesque

Asturian pre-romanesque seems to have carved out a special architectural niche for itself because of Asturias’ role in the beginning of the Reconquista from the Moors and also its defeat of the Visigoths in the early 700s.

Wikipedia has a very detailed page, so no need to repeat the history, except to highlight that the kingdom of Asturias lasted for 200 years. So we are looking at architecture spanning 700s -early 900s.

As with all of these styles, there are elements of other styles, all part of the continual evolution. In my untrained opinion, the most distinctive feature is the tiny narrow arched windows that many of the churches have. I remember lots of arches inside the buildings as well to separate different sections.

There are some big examples (like the church in Oviedo, San Julián de los Prados, and the one on the Primitivo near Villaviciosa, San Salvador de Priesca).

But my favorites are definitely the smaller buildings that are so easy to visit on the Primitivo/Norte. Other recent threads have given all the walking directions you need, so take a look at Santa Cristina de Lena (Salvador after Campomanes), Valdediós (connecting Norte to Oviedo) and of course the show-stopping jaw-dropping sites at Naranco (the palace of Santa María and the church San Miguel de Lillo, which has just undergone a substantial restoration). I’ve been lucky to visit all of those places several times on different caminos, and they never disappoint!



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jungleboy

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I'm a bit late to this thread so I have to digest it all in one go, so this will likely be a rambling post full of random comments! But here goes:

The wikipedia article is very clear and not too technical. And I've already learned something. ☺️
This is what I meant by "rectangular look:"

This was in reference to the term 'basilica'. Just off the top of my head from my Rome tour guide days to hopefully give some context, in classical Rome, basilicas were law courts and had this rectangular shape. A good example of the foundations of one that we can still see today is Julius Caesar's Basilica Iulia in the Roman Forum. Once Christianity emerged as the dominant religion in the Roman Empire, some of these basilicas were converted into churches and this rectangular floor plan (with no cross form) became associated with churches, although this was not its original purpose.

I thought I had read recently on the forum a definition that said the term pre-Romanesque does not denote architecture of the period from, roughly, the end of the Roman Empire to the beginning of Romanesque architecture but denotes a style that developed into Romanesque, ie a sort of precursor perhaps.

I think that was me here, but it was less a definition and more a 'my two cents'! If the consensus among historians is to call Visigothic pre-Romanesque, then so be it, I just thought it was worthwhile pointing out the different periods within the larger 'between Rome to Romanesque' period.

Moving on, I love this era of history and architecture and thank you all for the names of churches I now have to go and seek out. A few of them might be possible to see as part of my (undoubtedly overly ambitious) 2021 camino plans so that's something to look forward to.

A couple of churches that haven't been mentioned or only in passing that are described as Visigothic-Mozárabe and worth including:

São Frutuoso in Braga (the end of the Torres and also part of an alternative CP). I visited it this June and owing to the pandemic, Wendy and I had the chapel entirely to ourselves for the 45 or so minutes that we were there. Here's the thread I started about it and a photo.

IMG_0943.jpg

Wamba on the Camino de Madrid. I mentioned visiting it last year (and included more photos) in this post in my live thread.

IMG_5972.jpg
 

VNwalking

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Wamba on the Camino de Madrid. I mentioned visiting it last year (and included more photos) in this post in my live thread.
Wamba's on that list* I posted above, thanks to @Rebekah Scott clueing us in. but since the focus of the original thread it was on was Northern routes, São Frutuoso in Braga was not included. Thanks @jungleboy, it looks amazing!

*
First, a list that gives a summary of Visigothic/pre-Romanesque churches in various places, and what Camino you can access them from:
 
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it was less a definition and more a 'my two cents'! If the consensus among historians is to call Visigothic pre-Romanesque, then so be it, I just thought it was worthwhile pointing out the different periods within the larger 'between Rome to Romanesque' period.
I am glad you did, and I also think that there is absolutely NO consensus, not among historians let alone among us here on the forum, what these terms mean exactly and to which period they must be applied, with all the overlaps and mutual influences and whatnot. I quite like a classification from an earlier post and slightly modified now:
  • Hispanic-Visigothic architecture
  • Asturian architecture
  • Mozárabe and Reconquista architecture (churches in the south not under Christian rule)
  • Repoblación architecture (Christian kingdoms in the north)
all of them covering 700-1000 (more or less), I believe, and we can ignore everything else between Roman and Romanesque during earlier centuries - paleo-Christian, North African, Byzantine and Transitional Visigothic architecture - because so little is left that we are unlikely to encounter it on a Camino. ☺️

I think we've only tackled Visigothic and Asturian so far ... if we include Mozarabic now someone has to say "horseshoe arch" which I think nobody said yet. ☺️
 
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VNwalking

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Snap! Rick beat me to it.
Wamba's arches are gorgeous.
But now I'm confused, because I thought Mozarabic was later?
 

jungleboy

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But now I'm confused, because I thought Mozarabic was later?
Mozarabic as a general term refers to Christians living under Muslim rule in (mostly southern) Spain and Portugal and 'cut off' from the Christian kingdoms further north. As applied to architecture (and I'm extrapolating here!), it would be the building or renovating of Christian buildings in those areas during that period. So you're looking at from after 711 as a starting point for the concept of Mozarabic and continuing for centuries thereafter. I suppose theoretically the period could continue all the way to 1249 in Portugal and 1492 in Spain (the dates when the last Muslim rule was extinguished in those countries), although I think it's mostly applied to the periods when there was consolidated Muslim rule over a large area (e.g. the Umayyad caliphate) rather than the fractured taifas (city-state type polities) that came later on. If I recall correctly in the case of Wamba, it has 6th-ish-century Visigothic aspects and 9th-ish-century Mozarabic aspects.
 
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Mozarabic as a general term refers to Christians living under Muslim rule in (mostly southern) Spain and Portugal and 'cut off' from the Christian kingdoms further north.
Thank you for this summary, @jungleboy. I've learnt a ton of stuff, and I have great hopes that at the end of @C clearly's ever evolving forum curriculum about old architecture most likely to be encountered on a Camino, I may even be able to remember the differences between Mozarabe and Mujedar. 🤣

I just learnt this from Wikipedia: Formerly used for the whole of the Iberian peninsula, the term "Mozarabic" is now usually restricted, at least in architecture, to the south, with Repoblación art and architecture used for the north (i.e. north = churches in Christian kingdoms; south = churches built by Christian communities not under Christian rule).

Consequently, I've edited the four categories in post #51. I hope the course coordinator takes note. 🤓
 
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Actually ... the Spanish Wikipedia articles have lists of prime examples of buildings for the two styles and you can see that a number of church buildings are on both lists. One article mentions that no obstante, a nivel popular, incluso en enciclopedias y libros de texto, la denominación que ha seguido imperando es la de «arte mozárabe».

A list of churches in Spain and Portugal and summary of the characteristics of the two architectural styles are at the end of each article in Spanish. The English versions of the two articles are less complete.

 
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I think I may go back to my own earlier definition: Religious/Christian architecture in Spain that is old but not yet Romanesque and no longer Roman. 🙃
 
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I am loving these architecture threads!

Can anyone recommend works of historical fiction set in the Visigothic period that would help me imagine the daily lives of the people who constructed and used these buildings? There seem to be numerous books set in the other periods of Spanish history, but I've not found anything from the times of the Visigoths.
 
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Can anyone recommend works of historical fiction set in the Visigothic period that would help me imagine the daily lives of the people who constructed and used these buildings? There seem to be numerous books set in the other periods of Spanish history, but I've not found anything from the times of the Visigoths.
An interesting question! Potential leads perhaps here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18950857-any-novels-about-medieval-visigothic-spain

Maybe an idea for a separate thread: Historical fiction - Spain & Portugal - Years 400 to 1500. ☺️
 
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jungleboy

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I've discussed this before in a previous thread with @peregrina2000, but it belongs here too. There's a church in Lamego, in Portugal's Douro Valley about 100-ish kilometres east of Porto, called Capela de São Pedro de Balsemão which has some sixth-century Visigothic traces. I think it's basically just the capitals that remain from that era so it doesn't compare with São Frutuoso further north, but it's still interesting of course! Is there some Ionic scroll-like inspiration here?

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And while I'm here, there is an archeological site underneath a bank in the Baixa neighbourhood of Lisbon which is unfortunately closed at the moment (pre-pandemic). It's quite a fascinating place with remains of Phoenician houses and a Roman bakery. For our purposes, there's also a Visigothic tomb/skeleton there. It's not quite architecture but with the Visigoths we've got to take whatever we can get!

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David Tallan

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I always thought that Mozarabic was Christian architects in Muslim Spain, as contrasted with Mudejar which was Muslim architects in Christian Spain. Each could be in the north or the south, depending on time period up until 1492 when there was no more Muslim Spain, and the Muslim architects would have had to leave with the Expulsion.
 

C clearly

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Okay, I feel a bit guilty about having starting this thread and then abandoning it for over a week. I need to come back to make peace with it. The posts above are all very fascinating, but unless I am prepared to do quite a bit of study, I'm not at the stage where I can contribute. However, the thread has helped me advance my overall knowledge a bit, which was the original hope.

I am happy to have learned even the following:
  • Visigothic kingdom existed in Spain from mid-400 to 700 AD (5th C to 8th C). Cultural centres were around major Roman cities now known as Merida, Barcelona and Toledo.
  • Visigoths built smallish, clunky, rectangular churches with thick walls, small windows, and many had simple carvings. Three excellent examples I am marking on my map of Spain are:
    • Santa María de Lara (at Quintanilla de las Viñas on Camino de San Olav, just south of Burgos)
    • San Pedro de la Nave (23 km from Zamora, on the Camino Zamorano-Portugues)
    • Santa Lucia del Trampal (slight diversion on VDLP between Aljucen and Alcuescar)
  • Visigoths were conquered by Muslims in the 8th C, leading to significant Muslim influence on architecture, and various "transitional" styles leading to the Romanesque, which is generally defined as starting in the 11th Century.
  • [Edited to correct error about dates!]
I hope everyone continues to contribute their knowledge and examples to this thread. I invite someone else to pick another architectural period and start a thread! 🤓
 
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I am happy to have learned even the following:
Well done 😊!

But who taught you that Romanesque is said to be from the 6th to the 12th century? It would be total news to me. The Romanesque style appeared around the years 950 to 1000, a time of significant demographic, technological, spiritual and political change throughout Europe, as I vaguely remember.

And our lives would not be complete if you didn’t coordinate at least the Gothic course. 😊
 

apoivre

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  • Somehow we need to reconcile these dates with the supposed period for Romanesque, which is said to be from the 6th to 12 Centuries. I can see why the term "Pre-Romanesque" is hard to define.
Romanesque broadly refers to architecture that evolves after 1000 when most of Western Europe saw a building boom of unprecedented magnitude. The model for the new style was the great abbey in Cluny in Burgundy. Unfortunately it was demolished but one still can see a replica (although on a smaller scale) at Paray-le-Monial. Defining anything built before 1000 as Romanesque is an extremely unconventional way of looking at things.

Edited to add: Oh, @Kathar1na beat me to it. I saw their post after I posted my reply.
 
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Edited to add: Oh, @Kathar1na beat me to it. I saw their post after I posted my reply.
I'm glad you posted. It's nice to be in company. 😊

Romanesque broadly refers to architecture that evolves after 1000 when most of Western Europe saw a building boom of unprecedented magnitude.
Good point.

I think we never mentioned this in the earlier thread about Romanesque art and architecture. The Romanesque style was the first Europe-wide style that emerged nearly simultaneously in many European countries/kingdoms. It spread to all corners. It was a period of spectacular expansion of the economy (roughly years 950-1300), fuelled by population growth, changes and improvements in agriculture, growth of towns, increase in trade and cultural exchange and mutual influence, greater role of the Christian Church as an institution in society and politics.
 
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A modest visual overview: Two Christian church buildings and the biblical scene of a fearlessly praying or sleeping Daniel in the lions' den as typical examples of each of the two styles, namely the style that is not Romanesque and earlier than Romanesque (often Visigothic in Spain) on the left and the Romanesque style on the right.

Comparison.jpg
 
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Pelegrin

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I wonder if the Visigoth churches in Spain are the only ones left by Germanics from centuries 6th and 7th in Europe .The Franks in France and the Lombards in Italy were Christians.
 

NorthernLight

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I wonder if the Visigoth churches in Spain are the only ones left by Germanics from centuries 6th and 7th in Europe .The Franks in France and the Lombards in Italy were Christians.
The Franks were Germanic and spread into France. Charlemagne did a lot to spread Christianity across Europe.
 

Pelegrin

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The Franks were Germanic and spread into France. Charlemagne did a lot to spread Christianity across Europe.
Yes of course but Charlemagne was later than the Visigothic kingdom. The Franks were Christians since Clovis the First in year 500. I wonder if there is any church in France or Italy from that time (Rome not included) and how the style of them it is.
.
 
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apoivre

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I wonder if the Visigoth churches in Spain are the only ones left by Germanics from centuries 6th and 7th in Europe .The Franks in France and the Lombards in Italy were Christians.

We have some extant Merovingian architecture in France, quite a few Lombard structures in Italy, some Saxon churches in Britain, too. Dating early churches is a very uncertain business, though. Case in point, quite a lot of what was considered Visigothic architecture has since been proven to be Mozarabic, that is built after the conquest. There are early churches in Galicia that would be either late Roman or Suebic (a Germanic kingdom that ruled the area) or Mozarabic - it all depends on who you ask.

Most early structures have been added to over time so only a tiny part of the church is, say, Mozarabic while the rest may be Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque. So really there are no clear-cut examples of early styles.
 
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I wonder if the Visigoth churches in Spain are the only ones left by Germanics from centuries 6th and 7th in Europe .The Franks in France and the Lombards in Italy were Christians.
I seem to remember that little is left of Christian churches in many other parts of Europe from those times because they were often built with wood and not with stone. I had a quick look into DE Wikipedia where it says (deepl.com translation):

The Germanic tribes did not know building with stone. On their campaigns of conquest, they did not make use of villas left behind by Roman landowners and built their accommodation as usual from wood. When the first Christian churches were built east of the Roman imperial border [= to the east of the territory of France], wood was used as a building material, partly because stone building techniques were unknown and partly because wood was available much more quickly than stone from quarries and was also easier to work with. It was not until the Carolingian period, when Charlemagne took the imperial city of Rome as his model, that the Roman stone-building tradition was adopted.
However, due to the high cost (and the lack of specialists for stone construction), stone construction was reserved for particularly outstanding church buildings, such as the Aachen Palatine Chapel, the Einhard Basilica or the Torhalle of Lorsch. [These were built around 900]​
I don't know how well researched this Wikipedia article is but it sounds plausible to me. In Italy, the Basilica style remained dominant, I think. I guess the church architecture in Spain from this period before 1000 ist quite unique.
 
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The oldest Christian building of France is in Poitiers. It is apparently one of the most prominent examples of Merovingian architecture (very roughly the same time as the Visigoth reign in Spain).

The building is of Roman origin, was badly damaged during Visigoth occupation in the 5th century, then rebuilt/restored/remodelled throughout the centuries. Depending on which side you look at, it still looks more Roman/antiquity to me than anything else on two of its façades and Romanesque on a third façade.

Poitiers is on the camino from Paris to SJPP but the trail does not lead directly past it and I must admit that I did not go to see the building. It is just not the same as these Visigoth architectural jewels on the photos in this thread.

See here.
 
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alansykes

Veteran Member
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Except the Francés
now someone has to say "horseshoe arch" which I think nobody said yet. ☺️
Oh well, here goes:

The horseshoe arches that are a distinctive feature of most surviving (alleged) visigothic buildings in Spain were also enthusiastically used by Muslim architects, most obviously in the Mezquita (which covered over a visigothic church, built on the site of a Roman temple which (probably) replaced a celtiberian building). But there are also apparently examples of horseshoe arches in some Roman buildings, and certainly in pre-muslim buildings in the Byzantine near east - and of course the visigoths came from the east, sacking Rome en route.

So which led to the next or where the first came from is all rather moot. It's nice to think that the mosque of Córdoba may have had visigothic influences, but it doesn't affect the fact that, for me, it's quite simply the most beautiful structure ever built by human hands. The second pic is of the puerta califal in Ágreda (on the Camino Castellano-Aragonés), built nearly 500 years after the Mezquita.

IMG_20161101_092009.jpg
DSC_0724-1.jpg
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
who taught you that Romanesque is said to be from the 6th to the 12th century? It would be total news to me. The Romanesque style appeared around the years 950 to 1000, a time of significant demographic, technological, spiritual and political change throughout Europe
Thanks for the correction. I was hastily checking facts in order to write that post, and I saw a Wikipedia entry that I didn't ready carefully enough: "There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held."

My misinterpretation confused me even more - no wonder I couldn't reconcile the dates - and it made me even keener to get out of the thread. I feel better now that the dates line up somewhat, and might continue to study! 🙃
 
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There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held
This EN Wikipedia entry surprised me. Why would anyone write this, I wondered. Bear with me, please, I'd like to share what I found in an essay 😇. I now know that:

The universally accepted term (romanesque in English; roman in French; románico in Spanish) was coined by a French archaeologist named Gerville in 1818 when art historians started to categorise medieval architectural styles (medieval means years 600-1500). There had not been any such classification to date. He wanted to replace the "insignificant words" Saxon and Norman. He reasoned that French was a roman language, derived from the language of the Romans, and so was this architectural style. He felt that this term was more universal than Norman style and Saxon style, terms that had just been established in English art history.​
Apparently, it then took a while before art historians had agreed about a separation line between Romanesque style and its successor, the Gothic style. But the separation between Romanesque style and earlier medieval styles was never successfully accomplished. Different European countries / linguistic groups have differing views and terminology. In Germany, a distinction is made between Ottonian art and Salian art where Ottonian is considered to be pre-Romanesque or optionally early Romanesque. In France and Spain, there is a distinction between pré-roman (FR) and prerrománico (ES) on the one hand and roman (FR) / románico (ES) on the other hand. In Italy, things are even more complicated, since there, from late antiquity to early and high medieval art - especially in the field of architecture - hardly any epochal changes can be perceived.​

I guess the confusion arises when we mix too many sources from too many countries / languages / viewpoints / educational or scholarly backgrounds together. It seems to me that within Spain, which is our main topic, the timelines for románico and prerrománico are quite clear. Sure, there is overlap. But the start date of el Románico is not heavily disputed, it is around 950 or 1000. Give or take 50 years, yes, but not 500 years.
 
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One last last thing: Did you know that both Gothic and Romanesque styles were once considered to be ugly and regarded as denatured Roman architectural styles. The term Gothic in particular was coined to express this aesthetic disgust.
 
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gns

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First 2016
Latest Camino Frances Jul-Aug 2020
This EN Wikipedia entry surprised me. Why would anyone write this, I wondered. Bear with me, please, I'd like to share what I found in an essay 😇. I now know that:

The universally accepted term (romanesque in English; roman in French; románico in Spanish) was coined by a French archaeologist named Gerville in 1818 when art historians started to categorise medieval architectural styles (medieval means years 600-1500). There had not been any such classification to date. He wanted to replace the "insignificant words" Saxon and Norman. He reasoned that French was a roman language, derived from the language of the Romans, and so was this architectural style. He felt that this term was more universal than Norman style and Saxon style, terms that had just been established in English art history.​
Apparently, it then took a while before art historians had agreed about a separation line between Romanesque style and its successor, the Gothic style. But the separation between Romanesque style and earlier medieval styles was never successfully accomplished. Different European countries / linguistic groups have differing views and terminology. In Germany, a distinction is made between Ottonian art and Salian art where Ottonian is considered to be pre-Romanesque or optionally early Romanesque. In France and Spain, there is a distinction between pré-roman (FR) and prerrománico (ES) on the one hand and roman (FR) / románico (ES) on the other hand. In Italy, things are even more complicated, since there, from late antiquity to early and high medieval art - especially in the field of architecture - hardly any epochal changes can be perceived.​

I guess the confusion arises when we mix too many sources from too many countries / languages / viewpoints / educational backgrounds together. It seems to me that within Spain, which is our main topic, the timelines for románico and prerrománico are quite clear. Sure, there is overlap. But the start date of el Románico is not heavily disputed, it is around 950 or 1000. Give or take 50 years, yes, but not 500 years.
I think one issue is that we forget that the transmission and adoption of new ideas was much slower in the past. The Romanesque started in Italy (according to the books I have) and then spread north and west over time, whilst evolving to take on unique regional characteristics in addition to core features of the style. As a result Anglo-Norman starts much later than Southern Romanesque.

I think this also means that late adopting regions tend to have the style fully formed without the same intermediate stages.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
Mozarabic as a general term refers to Christians living under Muslim rule in (mostly southern) Spain and Portugal and 'cut off' from the Christian kingdoms further north. As applied to architecture (and I'm extrapolating here!), it would be the building or renovating of Christian buildings in those areas during that period.
I have read that there was a prohibition on building or extending churches. Furthermore, in culture (diet, dress, language etc.), I read that the Christians adopted the culture of the islamic rulers of the territory (hence the modern term "Mozarabe"- arabized) ... so perhaps there isn't a Mozarabic architecture to discover? Happy for someone to correct me on this speculation.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
if we include Mozarabic now someone has to say "horseshoe arch" which I think nobody said yet. ☺️
[Deleted - I see that Alansykes has already described the Visigothic origins of the horseshoe arch]
Back to Visigothic — the Moorish Alcazaba in Mérida has some beautiful Visigothic carvings, which were undoubtedly spirited away from their original place. Thanks to everyone for those beautiful pictures and enlightening discussion.
I read that those carvings may have come from the Visigothic pilgrim hospital (since there were pilgrims to the church of Saint Eulalia in Merida back then - before the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela).

Merida has a wonderful collection of Visigothic art (mostly architectural pieces and church fonts etc.), which was housed in the convent of Santa Clara when I visited:

More information on this inscription (and another "In which Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to the Lord) and the sun and the moon ... in German in this text - P229

Perhaps you can mine it for more nuggets. My Schuldeutsch is a little rusty.
 
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I have read that there was a prohibition on building or extending churches. Furthermore, in culture (diet, dress, language etc.), I read that the Christians adopted the culture of the islamic rulers of the territory (hence the modern term "Mozarabe"- arabized) ... so perhaps there isn't a Mozarabic architecture to discover?
I didn't know this!

I now had a quick read here (often a useful first source but not the gospel for anything imho). What I take away from it is the remark that the contemporary discussion has evolved "to the point that the present tendency shows a trend towards the abandoning of 'Mozarabic Art' denomination"; that there are only two churches in Spain that would fit a strict interpretation of the term; that, however, there are many more churches in Spain that at a popular level, including in encyclopedias and books, continue to be described as Mozarabic.

No wonder some of us are continuously confused ...
 

Pelegrin

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I think that the Muslims didn't allow the Christians to build new churches in their territories. The "Mozarabes" churches San Miguel de Escalada and Santiago de Peñalba for example were built after the Reconquest of Leon. I think the term "Arte de Repoblación" is more precise for them.
 
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2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Coming from a country that has only had European settlement for 200 years, I find this topic very enlightening. I have nothing constructive to add, but be assured that I am following it with great interest. Keep the photos coming so that I know what to look out for on my next visit.

If the Visigoths had managed their own first fleet in the 9th century, Australia would have a very different built heritage.
 
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Do we know which two? Or is that a quiz topic? ;)
It would be an easy quiz because the two "strictly Mozarabic" churches are listed under the link that I had posted ☺️.

The article lists the Church of Bobastro, a rock temple located in the place known as Mesas de Villaverde, in Ardales (Málaga), of which only some ruins remain; and the Church of Santa María de Melque, located in proximity to La Puebla de Montalbán (Toledo). With respect to this church, its stylistic parentage is in doubt, because it shares Visigothic features with other more proper Mozarabic features, nor its date being clear.

The Spanish version of this Wikipedia article says the same. Though perhaps more elegantly in grammatical terms. ☺️
 
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apoivre

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Mozárabe de Almería in March 2019
It would be an easy quiz because the two "strictly Mozarabic" churches are listed under the link that I had posted ☺️.

The article lists the Church of Bobastro, a rock temple located in the place known as Mesas de Villaverde, in Ardales (Málaga), of which only some ruins remain; and the Church of Santa María de Melque, located in proximity to La Puebla de Montalbán (Toledo). With respect to this church, its stylistic parentage is in doubt, because it shares Visigothic features with other more proper Mozarabic features, nor its date being clear.

The Spanish version of this Wikipedia article says the same. Though perhaps more elegantly in grammatical terms. ☺️

There was a prohibition on building new churches in Muslim Iberia. Moreover, after the Christian revolt in 850 (the so-called Cordoba martyrs affair) the emir ordered the destruction of new (i.e. post-conquest) churches, should any be found, and removal of recent decoration at older churches.

The only church built in Al Andalus that we have no doubts about would be Bobastro. The place was the headquarters of Omar ibn Hafsun, a rebel against the Umayyads who ran an independent statelet of sorts around the turn of the 10th century and at some point converted to Christianity.

There is no consensus wrt the church at Melque. Some scholars think it's Visigothic, others think it's Mozarabic. Which would make it the only extant Christian church built under Muslim rule in Iberia because Bobastro was built under a Christian ruler, remember?

For the rest of the peninsula, the term 'Mozarabic' applies to churches built under Christian rulers by Christian craftsmen from south of the border. These craftsmen worked as far north as Cuixà in what is now France.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
I've been taking down names of some of these churches (although trying not to look at pictures, so I guess that's still a thing for me!) and marking their locations on Google Maps.

Looking at my existing (and possibly wishful) thinking for caminos in 2021, it seems like I might be able to visit a few of them:

Santa Lucia del Trampal ('slight diversion' on the VdlP)
San Pedro de la Nave (side trip from Zamora on the VdlP?)
Santa Comba de Banda (side trip from Ourense on the Sanabrés?)
Quintanilla de las Viñas (close to the Castellano-Aragonés and Lana)

Santa María del Melque is not that far from Madrid in the grand scheme of things, and I would gladly visit Toledo again, so if I find myself passing that way to/from the autumn caminos, that could be another option!

I also noticed in researching my Primitivo Highlights post that the World Heritage listing of the pre-Romanesque sites in/around Oviedo includes Santa Cristina de Lena, which is south of Oviedo. It looks like it might be on or near the Salvador? If so, that's another incentive to walk that route.

Meanwhile, Bobastro might be a bit too far from the Almería route of the Mozárabe, but it's close to the Caminito del Rey so that would make for a great combination another time!
 
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VNwalking

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Year of past OR future Camino
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San Olav/CF ('16)
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Merida has a wonderful collection of Visigothic art (mostly architectural pieces and church fonts etc.), which was housed in the convent of Santa Clara when I visited:
Oh! I had no idea. On top of all the Roman things. Brilliant...

I also noticed in researching my Primitivo Highlights post that the World Heritage listing of the pre-Romanesque sites in/around Oviedo includes Santa Cristina de Lena, which is south of Oviedo. It looks like it might be on or near the Salvador? If so, that's another incentive to walk that route.
Re-posting this as it should give you the info you need, @jungleboy. It's a pretty comprehensive compilation of Pre-Romanesque churches — Visigothic and otherwise — on some of the northern routes (Sorry for the duplication, everyone, but it had gotten buried. Edit - I have also posted it as a resource under the 'religion' section.):
I have just found these wonderful websites, giving lots of information about Pre-romanesque in Asturias and Cantabria:
Arte Prerrománico. Asturias (ARTEGUIAS) The latter is the portal for information about many of the sites, and for an interpretive museum, the
Centro de Recepción e Interpretación Prerromanico Asturiano in Pavia not far from the Norte. It looks wonderful!

To quell confusion and to put everything on one page, here is a summary list from this thread, our crowdsourced camino connections (there are some duplications when a place is accessible from 2 caminos; @peregrina2000 , @alansykes , @Rebekah Scott , @Pelegrin , @oursonpolaire, and anyone who knows better, please feel free to correct me if I have missed or misrepresented something, or to add to the list! Thanks.):
,
Camino de Madrid
Wamba

Side trip from Norte
San Juan Apostol y Evangelista (Santianes de Pavia)(6.9 km from Muros de Nalon)

Norte to Primitivo
Valdediós

Primitivo (Oviedo and environs; distances from city centre) —
Camara Santa of Oviedo Cathedral
Santa Maria del Naranco (3.2km NW)
Santa Maria de Bendones (6.4km SE; may be near Camino de las Asturias)
San Julián de los Prados (1.3km NE)
San Pedro de Nora (11km W)
San Tirso (19km SE)
San Miguel de Lillo (3.4km NW)
San Adriano de Tuñon (Near Rio Trubia, ~20km SW)

San Olav
Santa Maria de Lara (Quintanillas de las Viñas)

San Salvador
Santa Cristina de Lena

Side trip from Frances
Santa Maria de los Arcos in Tricio (2.6km SE of Najera, closer to the camino)
San Miguel de Escalada (14.3km NE of Mansilla de las Mulas)
Iglesia de Santiago in Peñalba de Santiago (from Ponferrada or El Acebo)

Side trip from Sanabres
Santa Comba de Bande (~49km SW of Ourense)

side trip from Vdlp
Santa Lucía de Trampal
San Pedro de la Nave (22 km from Zamora)

Vadiniense
San Miguel de Escalada

Zamorano Portugués
San Pedro de la Nave (22 km from Zamora)
 
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For the rest of the peninsula, the term 'Mozarabic' applies to churches built under Christian rulers by Christian craftsmen from south of the border. These craftsmen worked as far north as Cuixà in what is now France.
Thank you from me, too, for your post, @apoivre. Some things - concerning the classification of the population and of architectural styles in post-Roman and medieval Spain and how these terms are used - start to make a lot more sense now.

Although I had been aware for some time that convivencia describes a multi-faceted coexistence that is often misunderstood or wrongly interpreted, I had not been aware of the prohibition on building new churches in Al-Andalus.

 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
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San Pedro de la Nave (side trip from Zamora on the VdlP?)
You could treat it as a side trip. It's about 30km off the route of the VDLP. If you walk there, you could simply continue to follow the Camino Zamorano-Portugues all the way to Ourense.

Santa Comba de Banda (side trip from Ourense on the Sanabrés?)
Wow. Well that one is quite isolated. If you walked the Camino Zamorano-Portugues toward Ourense, perhaps you could make a side trip from Xinzo de Limia, which is about 30km away. (But perhaps the transportation is easier from Ourense, which is the main hub of the region).
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
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Ingles ('18)
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Well that one is quite isolated.
Some time ago @peregrina2000 posted this:

And this:
I don’t think this is near any camino (at least not any that I know of), but I once spent a glorious weekend in Galicia in that area and took the short drive from Celanova (a very pretty Galician town) to visit the church. And ruins of a Roman fort along the way. Celanova has its own monuments to visit, too!
Santa Comba de Bande, 7C visigothic, south of Celanova, where Maricel let me in (You can find her phone number easily on line, she lives in the hamlet and is very flexible). Amazing place. The church itself is kind of hemmed in by neighborhood houses now, but is one of those jewels much in need of renovation.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Re-posting this as it should give you the info you need, @jungleboy.
Oh, fantastic, thank you!

And looking at the list, OMG the Primitivo! I count four churches that I didn't see, and that doesn't even include Santa Cristina de Lena.

You could treat it as a side trip. It's about 30km off the route of the VDLP. If you walk there, you could simply continue to follow the Camino Zamorano-Portugues all the way to Ourense.


Wow. Well that one is quite isolated. If you walked the Camino Zamorano-Portugues toward Ourense, perhaps you could make a side trip from Xinzo de Limia, which is about 30km away. (But perhaps the transportation is easier from Ourense, which is the main hub of the region).
You make a good case for the Zamorano-Portugués! I don't really know anything about it - or the Sanabrés, for that matter. I just figured the Sanabrés was the most obvious way to get from the VdlP to Santiago without putting too much thought into it.
 
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apoivre

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Mozárabe de Almería in March 2019
I had not been aware of the prohibition on building new churches in Al-Andalus.
Thank you for your kind words, @Kathar1na

I believe the prohibition was not specific to Al Andalus but rather to the Umayyad Caliphate in general. And after Al Andalus broke away from the Caliphate, it was ruled by the only Umayyads that escaped the massacre in the East. So it makes sense they must have kept the rules as set by their ancestors.

If you're interested and have spare time on your hands (don't we all these days), I could recommend Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain by Kenneth Baxter Wolf. It's the classic study on the 850 rebellion. Chapter 1 deals with the situation that the Christians found themselves in after the conquest. He says the prohibition was part of the laws enacted by Caliph Omar II who ruled in 717-720:

Much of this new legislation aimed at limiting those aspects of the Christian cult which seemed to compromise the dominant position of Islam. cUmar II (717-20), whose caliphate produced the first full series of laws designed to keep dhimmîs in their place, forbade the construction of any new churches. The so-called pact of cUmar I, that came to be considered normative by the legal schools emerging in the eighth century, went even further, forbidding the repair of dilapidated, pre-existing churches. The caliphs and jurists also prohibited rituals and activities that drew too much public attention to Christianity, such as bell ringing or excessively loud chanting in church. Restrictions on processions and funerals were common for the same reasons. The most severe penalties, however, were reserved for those Christians who showed disrespect for Islam: its prophet, its tenets, or its adherents. Any attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity or to prevent Christians who so desired from adopting Islam was considered an act of lèse majesté.

The dhimmîs were protected religious minorities under Islamic rule, i.e. Christians (who were in a majority actually, in Iberia and all around the Mediterranean in the first centuries after the conquest) and Jews.

The book is available online here.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Many Mozarabes converted to Islam (Muladies) or left Al Andalus after the arrival of fundamentalists Alamoravides and Almohades from Morroco. There were few of them when the Christians took Cordoba and Seville in the 13th century.
In this context I don´t see possible a pilgrimage to Santiago (Matamoros) from Al Andalus. In any case it was only one way. Therefore, the name Camino Mozarabe is a bit misleading in my opinion.
 

gns

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
First 2016
Latest Camino Frances Jul-Aug 2020
Oh, fantastic, thank you!

And looking at the list, OMG the Primitivo! I count four churches that I didn't see, and that doesn't even include Santa Cristina de Lena.


You make a good case for the Zamorano-Portugués! I don't really know anything about it - or the Sanabrés, for that matter. I just figured the Sanabrés was the most obvious way to get from the VdlP to Santiago without putting too much thought into it.
I can recommend it. In 2018 the marking was sufficient.

From Braganza on accommodation was not straightforward but you can get to Villadervos where there is an albergue in a long day from Vinhais if you are up for it. There is lots of great scenery and it feels like an adventure.

Just make sure you don't arrive in Braganza at graduation weekend if you want somewhere to stay!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Primitivo (Oviedo and environs; distances from city centre) —
Camara Santa of Oviedo Cathedral
In general, this list is a reminder of how special and important Oviedo and its surrounds are in the story of early medieval Christian architectural legacy on the entire Iberian peninsula. That's not surprising, given the role the Kingdom of Asturias played in the period following the Muslim conquest, but it's noteworthy anyway.

But what I really came here to say is that other than this mention that I bolded above, we have not talked about the Cámara Santa in this thread yet, and we should because it's amazing!

Quoting myself:

The most famous part of the cathedral, the Holy Chamber (Cámara Santa), contains two chapels: the upper chapel of Saint Michael, restored in the 12th century and famous for its relics; and the even more impressive ninth-century lower chapel and crypt of Saint Leocadia, built during the reign of Alfonso II himself. Atmospheric and eerie, the tunnel-like crypt evokes the long-forgotten past as over 1000 years of history swirls around you.

HolyChamber600.jpg
 
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