The preroman Asturian art in Oviedo

Discover oviedo's heritage

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The architecture of Asturias lost its routes two thousand years ago. The traces of old kings in this Asturian territory are now more admired than ever because they all conform a rich artistic treasure. In 1985 UNESCO gave its support to motivate a new cult for those buildings. UNESCO declared that the patrimony heritage of Oviedo was in fact, a Humanity Patrimony Heritage. It went from cult to culture, and today has become the art of good seeing, the art of appreciating the habits of old societies which lived in this territory.


In Asturias are located 14 buildings with medium and high degree of conservation, mainly in the centre of this region. And down the Mount Naranco, the city of Oviedo grows where two of the most representative monuments coincide. In both it is quite clear that architecture and sculpture are closely linked. Both are high buildings but their dimensions are well-sized. Their shapes are usefulness, of austere ornaments that show good stylistic shapes and in the end form a unity full of amazing elements, overall if we take into account the early times in which they appeared.

The city of Oviedo as it also was the capital of the kingdom of Asturias, keep safe numerous architectonical jewels which were being built during 200 years of monarchy and also under the period of the Asturian preroman art. Since the kingdom of Don Pelayo began by the year 722 up to the death of Alfonso III in 910, then was the time when the capital was moved to León. The popular palace of Santa María del Naranco was built on its origins as the Royal second residence. It was a palace surrounded by expanding fields for hunting and at the same time it was the best place where Ramiro I could get relaxed. The beauty of this palace has been very much appreciated since the medieval times. It is a two floor building and the upper floor is a big vaulted living room which is open to the outside by two wide viewpoints. In the same century of its construction, 19th century, was transformed into a church. The architectural style of this church is characterised by the Asturian typical art and by the different representations of animals and human figures. In the surroundings of this monument there is a Interpretation lecture room and its explanation panels show us the different stages of the Asturian Preroman Art.

Very close to this area, we can find the temple of San Miguel of Lillo or Lillo. This is a temple that was thought to be the closest palace of the monarch. This temple suffered some changes throughout time. In the 13th century it sank due to the bad conditions of the territory it was built. From its original construction today it only keeps its west side and the first plan of its naves. What is really interesting in this temple are its relieves on doors as well as its ulterior platform that was thought to dignify those religious ceremonies to which the king attended.

If we are not in a hurry, we can go up to the top of the mount. Here, we can enjoy the beautiful sights of the city of Oviedo.

Another good example of the Asturian preroman architecture is located on the entrance of the city on its west side. This is the popular and famous church of San Julián de los Prados or Santullano as it is commonly known. The king Alfonso II, the Chaste, dedicated its construction to his wife. It dates from the 9th century. This is the biggest preroman temple that today remains in Spain. It has three naves with shape of cross and three absides of square head. Parallel to its architecture, Santullano keeps many historical pictures which make of it one of the most singular churches of the Spanish high medieval art. It is known that its frescos covered all the interior of this temple, even the ceilings and also those examples of art have been compared to the pictures of pompeyan tradition.

The Asturian Preroman Art is considered unique overall in Oviedo, where we can enjoy this art best than in other place in Spain. A visit is very worthwhile and we can make sure that you will never forget this artistic experience.

Texto: © Ramón Molleda para desdeasturias.com