SANTA LUCIA DEL TRAMPAL
- Almost unknown until 1981 when it was brought to light by Professor Juan Riesco and his wife, Luisa Téllez. Declared Historical-Artistic Monument in 1993
- Visigothic monastic church with three naves, a very special crossing and three unattached apses, included in an large environment of much older origin where at least another church existed of which only remains have prevailed.
- Researched and restored along several campaigns between 1984 and 1990 by Rosco and Caballero Zoreda, it is nowadays in very good shape that lets us know its original stucture.
Its structure is the most complex one from the Visigothic period that has reached our days, as if it were a course af all the types of churches that had been tried out in the transition period, and include some special characteristics that would later reflect in the Asturian art, since it consisted of:
- Basilical plan with three naves, the lateral ones very narrow, separated by now disappeared pillars andthat although it keeps its gothic arches, obviously of a later date, must have been covered with vaults like San Pedro de la Nave and Santa María de Melque.
- It has a pseudo crossing and three separated chevets, each one with a window that end in a horse shoe arch with marble lattice, now disappeared, forming a structure very close to the one of San Juan de Baños, although in this case the crossing overhangs not only from the width of the naves, but also from the chevets. From the crossing, access was gained to the central nave through a choir narrower than the nave. Besides, it was communicated with the lateral chambers but not with the aisles.
- The crossing had seven stretches. The three in front of the chevets were covered by domes, whereas the other four had a barrel vault upon horse shoe arches like rib arches upon columns with capitals. This type of vault upon rib arches would show up again in Asturian art, as well as the division of a nave in several stretches with a different covering, being that one of the main characteristics of San Miguel de Lillo, which it also recalls for the complicated structure of its roofs, for the triple chevet and for the sensation of inner space, with the central nave much more wider than the aisles.
- The doors were at the sides, as it usually was the case in North African basilics, and there are remains of rooms and lateral porticos, now disappeared. It is interesting to see that the doors were linted and with a relieving arch in brick, as in Asturian churches, what has also been seen in San Giao de Nazaré. Another funny detail is that the doors did not have doorjambs nor supports, so, presumably they stayed always open to those lateral compartments. Another very important detail as a precedent for Asturian churches is that the lateral rooms, according to its restorer Luis Caballero Zoreda, were also covered by vaults upon series of arches attached to the walls.
In the environment of the church of Santa Lucía there were other constructions of the same period. The most important one is the church of Santiago, now disappeared; among its ruins, marbles have been found similar to the ones that Santa Lucia had, and in the excavations, also rests of other buildings that surrounded it. On its west side there was a building with the same orientation and width. Another smaller one was located near to its northwestern corner. These buildings must have formed part of a monastic ensemble as the one in Santa María de Melque.
From our point of view, the study in depth of this church and the information that will come up from the restoration that is being done in San Giao de Nazaré, may provide basic information to move forward in the knowledge of art and history of the last Visigothic period.
With regard to Santa Lucía, we must discard completely the possibility that it belonged to the Mozarabic period, considering its structural characteristics, like the sculptoric decoration, very similar to that of San Juan de Baños, and to the last group of Mérida, as well as for its location, in an area that was not reconquered until the second half of the 12th century, and taking into account the prohibition to build or even restore Christian buildings in Arabic zone that had always been respected. On the other hand, the theory that it was an Arrian church does not seem justified either, as it is based in the existence of three chevets, that are very similar to the ones in San Juan de Baños, built by Recesvinto in 661 and, consequently, undoubtly Catholic. It is also important to remind that the triple chevet can be found in a great number of Spanish churches of the high medieval period, from the Early Christian basilics of Barcelona and San Peretó in Mallorca, to San Miguel de Lillo; all of them totally alien to the Arrian heressy. Besides, the last Arrian resistance that we know of in this area, took place in 589, long before its construcction.
Based in all mentioned above, we reach the conclusion that Santa Lucía del Trampal cannot be other than a Visigothic monastic church, of the second half of the 7th century, possibly raised in one and only phase, since its building technique is homogeneous. For the structure of the naves and all the compartments around it, of which one would have been, most likely, an external baptistry, it recalls some North African churches, although without the apses put against each other, so frequent in them, but for its chevet with a strange crossing and separated chapels, as a new trial of evolution, we can register it in the series of churches we call transition churches among the types of Early Christian, North African and Arrian ones, prior to the conversion of Recaredo and the known Cruciform churches, and to the unfortunately almost unknown Toledan court art of the end of the 7th century.
Another subject worth considering is the collection of analogies with the Asturian architecture that we find here. As we have mentioned, the linteled doors with relieving arch as well as the mixing of different forms of coverings in the different stretches of a nave and the existence of vaults upon transverse arches and upon series of arches attached to the walls, the almost unknown elements in Visigothic architecture that have reached to these days and that appear later in Asturian architecture. So far it has been considered that this one, instead of being based in the structure of Visigothic buildings, had taken its direct precedent from Roman art; but if we bear in mind the lack of knowledge about the Visigothic constructions in the big cities and the points in common that are turning up, both, in the church of San Giao de Nazaré and in Quintanilla de las Viñas, it would be interesting to reconsider the present theories about how the Visigothic art in the 7th century had been actually, and its possible influence in Asturian art.
Other interesting information
Access: Leaving Mérida towards north, by EX-209; at 4.5Km take N-630 for 28Km. Take EX-382, at 4Km you will reach Alcuéscar. The church is some 5Km far from the village.
GPS Coordinates: 39º 9′ 9,96″N 6º 13′ 21,47″W
Information telephone: Ayuntamiento de Alcuéscar. 927 384 002 and 927 384 242 and Centro de Interpretación, a few meters from the basilic: 608 258 780.
e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visiting hours: Tuesdays and Saturdays: Mornings: From 10 to 14 hours. Afternoons from June 15th through September 30th: From 17 to 20 hours. From October 1st to June 14th: From 16 to 19 hours. Sundays: From 10 to 14 hours. Mondays closed. Admission free.
Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomo III
L’Art Préroman Hispanique:
Ars Hispanie: Tomo II
Santa Lucía del Trampal: L. Caballero y