SAN PEDRO DE LA MATA
- Only rests of some of the walls have been presereved and there is no information about this building prior to its complete devastation.
- Initially conceived as a cruciform church with a plan similar to that of Santa Comba de Bande and Santa Maria de Melque, its structure went through significant changes, most probably due to the unstability that must have already been detected during its building.
For its structural characteristics San Pedro de la Mata belongs to the cruciform Visigothic churches of the 7th century, together with Santa Comba de Bande and Santa María de Melque; however, this church links also with the best Toledan court art, according to the remains of decoration that have appeared and, as we shall see, for a modification in its structure with respect to the two former ones, it may be considered as a precedent of San Pedro de la Nave and Quintanilla de las Viñas. According to the most ancient reference that we know about it, a description of the 17th century, it was built in the times of king Wamba (672-681), which can be easily accepted given the high building spirit he had and also considering that the dating perfectly fits with the chronology we know of cruciform churches.
Unfortunately, only remains of some walls in very bad shape have been left; a part of those walls belong to later constructions that have disregarded the construction system and its original structure.
Following the 4/3 scale design of Santa Comba de Bande consisted initially of two naves that crossed at the crossing, forming a lantern upon horse shoe arches, of which only the southern side one is left, that, different to Bande, instead of leaning directly on shelves in the wall, they stem out over pillars attached to it and decorated marble imposts.
If the portico was also simetric to the apse, we find ourselves in front of a clear precedent of the type of church that will so magnificently develop in San Pedro de la Nave that, similar to this one, also has doors at the end of the crossing nave.
As we have mentioned in our notes on Bande, the lateral chambers were added later, what can be easily seen in the plans of separation that exist in the remains of the chevet, between the wall that corresponds to the apse and those of the lateral chambers.
In this church there are two special characteristics compared to the rest of the group, that may be in part responsible for the poor state of conservation despite steming out from a design that has resulted so robust: one is that it wasbuilt upon a huge stone slab, practically without any foundations. The other one is that its walls, made with ashlars, like all monuments of the 7th century, although its building technique is somewhat coarser, are considerably thinner, just 68cm, excepting those that form the apse, which are 1m thick.
The apse is separated from the main nave by a horse shoe arch with irregular voussoirs, some of them without extrados, extended in almost 2/5 of the radius below its centre, which now does not have the springings, formed by the decorated imposts, now disappeared, and most likely by capitals and columns like in Bande, although given the low thickness of the arch wall, there must have been here only one at each side. All of this suggests it was covered by a barrel vault and, most likely, there was a chamber between it and the roof, accesible only through an interior window, as the one in Santa Comba de Bande.
We cannot know for certain how the naves and the lantern of the crossing were covered, but there are reasons to think that they were different to the rest and, although the limited thickness of the walls could make us think it would have been difficult to cover them with vaults, the fact that they collapsed not much after they were built, supports this theory.
The remains left, with two lateral chambers attached along the apse’s chevet and the eastern nave and the other one attached to the south of the western nave, longer than the former one so that its wall is reinforced up to twice its original thickness, as well as the fact that the rest of the nave has disappeared, makes us think that the church must have shown quite early resistance problems since, the traces preserved at the northern side of that western nave show that, had it been another lateral chamber attached to it, of which nothing is left, this part was not reinforced as it was done with the one in the southern side. So we think that the reinforcement of the southern side was necessary or that the whole of the northern side did not exist already when the church was modified, which is very likely given the feeling of irregularity that this remains now produce.
With regard to the decoration, of which almost nothing is left in the ruins, it was based on friezes distributed throughout the building and formed by vegetal stems with palmettes and bunches, flowers, etc. Also remains of decorated stones have appeared reutilized in constructions of the near villages of Arisgostas and Casalgordo, with volutes and geometrical drawings in the most pure style of Toledo and Mérida.
Other interesting information
Access: Leave Toledo toward south. After 25.7Km take TO-7001-V for 5.1Km until Casalgordo and the stream of Valhermoso.
GPS Coordinates: 39º 36′ 49,11″N 3º 59′ 13,77″W.
Visiting hours: The ruins are not enclosed and may be visisted any moment.
Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomo III
SUMMA ARTIS: Tomo VIII
L’Art Preroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Ars Hispanie: Tomo II
Arte Hispanovisigodo: Pedro de Palol