SANTIAGO DE GOBIENDES
- Declared Historical Artistic Monument on June 3rd, 1931.
- It went through important transformations along the Baroque period such as the replacement of the central apse by a much larger and higher one that distorts its external looks; the lateral rooms had been removed and, in change, the vestry, the porticoes and the belfry were added.
- It has gone through some cleaning and restorations campaigns along the 20th century, although the proposal of J. Manzanares, that considers the elimination of all the addings and the recovery of its original structure, has not been achieved so far.
Located on a hill on the Cantábrico sea, at 4 kilometers from Colunga, we find Santiago de Gobiendes, one of the latest manifestations of Asturian Pre-Romanesque Art. This church had a structure that strictly corresponded to the design normalized by Alphonse the Second, though in this case, the testero was not flat since the central apse stood out lightly with respect to the lateral ones.
Its original structure was formed by three naves, covered by a flat wooden roof and separated by series of round arches in brick, upon square pillars with impost capitals, being the central nave much wider and higher than the aisles, that allowwed to open four windows in it at each side, centred upon separation arches that provide the church with a very adequate illuminatiion The chevet was formed by three flat apses of the same width than the naves and covered by barrel vaults. The main chapel that was very much modified in the reform of the nineteenth century, when it was emlarged by moving the testero and elevating the entrance arch, was somewhat longer than the lateral ones and it was decorated with a blank series of arches attached to its three walls. The western side closed with a nartex, also tripartite, from which the lateral compartments have been preserved; communicated with the rest of the church through two doors, also with arches in brick. Besides, as with all the churches of the group, it had two lateral compartments attached to the naves’ last stretch which have disappeared.
The interior of the church, very similar to San Salvador de Priesca, though with one more stretch of series of arches in the naves, keeps all its main characteristics, except the change produced by the enlargement of the central apse and of the naves towards the west. But externally, the mentioned reform, in a very different building style, has altered its image style considerably. In the chevet, the great volume of the new central apse generates an unpleasant effect, breaking completely the image of an Asturian testero, to that we must add that the prolongation of ther naves, in a very different style, lacking artistic quality, to which also a modern belfry was added, as well as the building of a portico upon wooden columns that go along the whole of the western side and a great part of the southern side, hide the original structure of Santiago de Gobiendes almost entirely. Besides, the enlargement of the naves that elongat it disproportionally -something similar, but worse, to what happened in San Adriano de Tuñón-, turn it into a strange looking building.
Its inner decoration is reduced to the capitals decorated with acanhtus leaves and the typical roped gorgerin upon the engaged columns that support the chevet’s arches. Some capitals, shafts and bases of the blank series of arches that were in the no longer existing central chapel are preserved in the vestry, as well as the rests of a mullioned window that probably came from the same apse. It is also interesting another window that has been reutilized in the southern wall of the new apse in the reform of 1853 according to what is stated on an inscription in the alfiz. It is formed by two arches framed by an alfiz and leaning on a small pilaster with capital, that has a simple decoration, including the image of a swastika. The fact that two windows have been preserved that were probably placed in the central part of the disappeared chevet, lead us to conclude that in its original structure the usual compartment upon the apse must have existed, without any access from the interior of the church, and that there would have been a window on each plan. No rests of paintings have been preserved, though we must suppose it had a complete pictorial decoration as in the rest of the churches of the group.
There is no information about the consecration date of the church of Gobiendes. The first reference appears in a donation of Ordoño the Second to the Oviedo Cathedral in 921, but if we take into consideration both, its original structure, so similar to San Salvador de Priesca, as well as its type of decoration and the place where it is located, for whih Alphonse the Second showed a special interest, to the extent that at the end of his days he retired to San Salvador de Valdediós, at just 32 Km far, and that he himself ordered its building, makes us think it is from the end of the ninth century or beginnings of the tenth century, during the last phase of his reign. Its plan that is inscribed in a rectangle with three chevets, three four-stretch naves, a triple nartex and two compartments at the sides of the first stretch of naves, is a copy of Valdedios’ even in the fact that the central apse stands out of the lateral ones. The only difference, though an important one, is that, like in Priesca, the architect did not dare to build a vault in the central nave; therefore, as in Gobiendes, it is wider than in Valdediós.
Other interesting information
Access: Exit Oviedo by A-64 to Pola de Siero until A8. Take A-8 until the exit 337; take AS-260 until Gobiendes. Total distance: 63,5Km. GPS Coordinates: 43º 28′
9,54″N 5º 13′ 55,93″W.
Information telephone:: Parroquia de Sales. 985 86 90 43, 985 85 00 24 and 627 791 677.
Visiting hours: arrange hour with the parish priest.
Arte Pre-románico Asturiano: Antonio Bonet Correa
SUMMA ARTIS: Tomo VIII
L’Art Preroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Ars Hispanie: Tomo II
Arte Asturiano: José Manuel Pita Andrade
Guía del Arte Prerrománico Asturiano: Lorenzo Arias Páramo