SAN PEDRO DE TARRASA
- The complete Episcopal Ensemble of Tarrasa was declared National Monument in
1931and Artistic and Historical World Heritage site in 1985.
- It is believed that St. Peter was the parochial church of the three building ensemble, being the cathedral and the baptistry the two others.
- It has gone under several restoration processes along the 20th century and from the year 2000 through 2008 a complete Direc tor Plan of the Monumental Emsemble that included study, restoration and revaluation.
(See first the general description of the Episcopal Ensemble of Terrassa)
Built with the same kind of external bond than the two others, San Pedro de Terrassa is the third church of this episcopal ensemble. It is the one placed more to the north and, according to the tradition of those times, it must have been a parochial church or some dedication of a martyrial kind. In our case, as there is a martyrial crypt in San Miguel it seems more likely it was a parochial church. Original it had a basilical shape with three naves that later disappeared as of the second stretch and, as it happened with Santa María, during the restoration in Roman times only the central one was rebuilt, in this case maintaining all of its original longitude. Also, as in Santa María, the result in San Pedro is a cruciform looking church, as it has reached now, where the first stretch of lateral naves that has been preserved serves the purpose of a crossing.
A special mention deserves its chevet, trilobed shaped, both internally and externally, which makes us think that the builders had a clear interest in establishing important differences between the structures of the three churches. However, in San Pedro we see that this shape of the apse is similar to the one of the crypt of San Miguel. This type of chevet had already been utilized previously both in the East as in Africa, France and even in Évora, from which we count with its description although the church has disappeared. Also the martyrium’s four lobed of La Dehesa de La Cocosa could be a possible precedent in Spain.
The apse’s covering, that may have gone through modifications since its initial construction, consists of four vaults, the three with lobes in semi dome and the central one, supported upon the trapeze formed by the ends and the intersection lines of the lobes, has a shape that recalls an elevated semi dome. The central apsidiole is covered by an altarpiece probably added during the restoration of the 12th century, where there are six round arches upon columns and capitals in two levels, with two arches in the upper one and four in the lower one, decorated with paintings that seem to belong to early Romanesque, placed within and around the arches. In the floor, of a good quality, a policrome mosaic has been found based on squares and circles, which date has not yet been established, although it is supposed it was created during the same stage as the altarpiece, independently that it was conceived for this church or reutilized. Each lobe has a window that, for their shape and size, it is likely they were the result of an extension of the original ones during the restoration of the 12th century.
During the campaign of restoration of San Pedro in 1975, a special attention was dedicated to the study of the interior of its chevet. The internal paraments were cleaned to see that the vaults were screw vaults (bóvedas de rosca) built with pieces of fired clay placed radially, something very usual in Roman architecture and whereas the lower zones are built with a very irregular bond, the upper ones are of the same kind described for the external parts, based on small ashlars placed in horizontal courses. It was also noticed that the interior of the chevet had gone through several transformations and that the original floor was in opus signinum, and was at a lower level than the mosaic described.
In this same campaign also the apsidiole was studied finding that the altarpiece leans upon a masonry filling shuttered in wood, what has let leave behind a free space up to the original vault, and in front, a sort of prismatic chamber, quite large, underneath the altarpiece, which purpose is unknown.
The outcome does not leave any doubts regarding the age of the chevet and confirms that the church had gone through several modifications previous to the installation of the altarpiece,what reduces considerably the possibility it belonged to the Carolingian period, in spite that the kind of bond could seem from those times. However, all that has been found confirms the utilization of techniques and structures already known since Roman architecture, at the same time that some of the details of great importance, such as the two apses with plan and horse shoe shaped access arch, and as the shape of the third one, San Pedro, that has a clear precedent in the 6th century’s architecture, as well as the fact that the three churches had only one apse although two of them had a three nave basilic plan, something unusual in Mozarabic and in Carolingian arts, seem to confirm with all the reservations we have exposed due to the complexity of the ensemble that has reached to these days and to the lack of a complete archeological study in the whole environment, the ideas we expose for the whole ensemble and for each one of its churches, is that everything must have been raised in the zenith stage of the bishopry, in the last half century of the Visigothic kingdom.
Other interesting information
Address: Plaza del Recto Homs, s/n, 08222 Terrassa. Coordenadas GPS: 41º 34′ 0,70″N 2º 1′ 6,67″E.
Information telephone: 93 783 37 02
Visiting hours: From Tuesdays through Saturdays: Mornings from 10 to 13:30 hours. Afternoons from 16 to 19 hours. Mondays and holidays closed. Admission free.
Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomo III
SUMMA ARTIS: Tomo VIII
L’Art Préroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Ars Hispanie: Tomo II
Templos Visigótico-Románicos de Tarrasa: F. Torrella Niubó