SAN SALVADOR DE PRIESCA
- Declared Historical Artistic Monument on June 3rd, 1931.
- The lateral compartments were modified during the Baroque period and the
attached porticoes were added.
- During the initial restoration in 1914 the consecration inscriptions were
destroyed. It was burned down in 1936 and immediately repaired after the war by
L. Menéndez Pidal.
Located on a hill very near Villaviciosa, San Salvador de Priesca is the last
building of Asturian Art that has survived until now. It was consecrated in 921,
when Alphonse the Third had already died, the court had moved to León and the
Mozarabic style had been imposed in all conquered territories. In spite of that
it is considered to belong to the artistic period of this great Asturian
monarch, although it shows a clear decline of a style in extintion, because it
was unable to renovate its structures while showing elements of the new
Mozarabic art in some painting and in the horseshoe arches of some of the
windows. As a great part of the Asturian churches, it was burnt in 1936,
although in this case only the roof burned (it was still the original one).
After being restaured it is in good shape having kept all of its sculptured
decoration and some original paintings.
Very similar to the church of San Salvador de
Valdediós, located at some 20Km. distance, but without keeping its
vaulted cover, which allows a greater width of the main nave; its structure is
the tradictional one according to the normalization that affected the Asturian
religious buildings during the periods of Alphonse the
Second and Alphonse the Third. Externally, it is a three nave church, with a
later attached portico at the southern side and four big rectangular windows,
with a discharging arch in brick and lattice work at each side of the main nave,
upon the roofs of the aisles. It has a flat chevet with three apses separated by
buttresses, a window on each of them, and another one of two horseshoe arches
upon a central pilaster, in the main chapel’s upper plan, upon a high chamber
not accessible from the inside. The main façade is also flat with a central door
in round arch upon decorated imposts, buttresses on the separation line of the
naves and a lately introduced belfry at the end of the western wall. There are
aslo some buttresses irregularly deployed on the lateral walls that had, as in
most Asturian churches of those two periods, two compartments at the level of
the last stretch of the naves, that do not any longer exist.
At its interior, the iconostasis has disappeared and the church is formed by two
pillars and two decorated boards. It stood up until the middle of last century.
It is also totally traditional: basilical plan with three naves separated by
round arches in brick upon squared ashlar pillars, with molded imposts that
divide it in four stretches. The first one corresponds to a portico as wide as
the main nave, and two lateral compartments to access a higher tribune built in
wood. The naves were covered with a flat wooden roof in the shape of
scissor framework, forming a continuous cornice; a cover that seems to have
existed in its original state until the fire of 1936. The chevet is a very
interesting one, formed by the three apses of the same width than the naves and
covered by a barrel vault. The central one has one triumphal arch supported by
columns and capitals of veined leaves, similar to those of Valdediós, and
decorated with blank series of arches, formed in the lateral walls by three
arches of equal size, upon a plinth and under an impost that supported the
vault, different in height to the central one; all of them upon columns and
capitals with simple but very beautiful vegetal decoration. At the sides, the
arch leans on impost capitals upon pillars and, though they did not count with
blank series of arches, they keep the decorated impost in the vault’s base.
Rests of the original painting is preserved in the apses and on
the walls. The kind and colours are very close to
those in San Julián de los
Prados and the mosaics in Veranes, that include big ovals around the
arches decorated with concentric circles between them in the chevet’s blank
arches; and the rest, located on the chevet’s walls and on the southern wall,
with geometrical drawings, though there are also some human figures within a box
that seem to be related already with the Mozarabic painting.
The comparative analysis of this last Asturian Pre-Romanesque monument and the
way to have come to it from the first churches of Alphonse the Second’s period;
for example, San Pedro de
Nora, stopping to consider intermediate works like San Miguel de Lillo and San Salvador de Valdediós,
clearly show the reason for the disappearace of an artistic trend so rich and important in the medieval European panorama, that
besides extinguishing with its own limitations, it set an important part of the
bases of all the Romanesque Art. In fact, we are before a very interesting
monument for its intrinsical worth, both interior and exterior, its volumes’
design, its sculptoric and pictorial decoration. However, it is at the same time
the demonstration of a comeback to the initial model, or expressed differently,
over one hundred years have been wasted, neglecting the roads open in the
Ramirense period that remained suffocated in Valdediós maybe because the
technical kowledege had been lost or, according to our point of view, neither
the effort nor the risk of planning vaults that forced to reduce the width of
the naves was worth it, breaking thus the established model, as they were
compelled to stick to fixed structures designed for buildings with flat cover.
Other interesting information
Access: Exit Oviedo by A-66 to Langreo/Santander. Take A-64 until the
exit to Villaviciosa/Rodiles. After three roundabouts take N-632 until VV-15 and
continue to Priesca. Total distance: 56.1Km. GPS Coordinates: 43º 29′
6,80″N 5º 21′ 31,55″W.
Information telephone:Oficina de Turismo de
Villaviciosa: 985 89 17 59 or parish priest of Priesca: 985 97 67 12
Visiting hours: Call the parish priest. Usually it can be visited on
Sundays after the mass.
Arte Pre-románico Asturiano: Antonio Bonet Correa
SUMMA ARTIS: Tomo VIII
L’Art Preroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Ars Hispanie: Tomo II
Asturiano: José Manuel Pita Andrade
Guía del Arte Prerrománico Asturiano:
Lorenzo Arias Páramo
La iglesia parroquial de San Salvador de Priesca en Villaviciosa de
San Salvador de Priesca
La intervención en la arquitectura prerrománica asturiana: Jorge
Hevia Blanco, Gema Elvira Adán Álvarez