VIRGEN DEL CARMEN DE CADALSO
To our collaborator Javier Pelaz Beci, member of 4AsE, who has furnished us with great part of the information and photographs contained in this file
- It was declared Heritage of Cultural Interest in 1983. .
- The hermitage was restored in 2003 and remodeled in a certain way, as the bell tower from an uncertain period was eliminated and its access was blocked with the present door.
The adequate conditions of the soil of the valley of Valderredible -its etymology being “Val de Ripa Hibre” that
translates as Valley of the River Ebro- where the river flows escorted by alder, willows and poplar trees through a narrow valley giving way to the south to a large meadow, concentrates the largest number of hermitages and cave hermitages in all of Spain. The dating of these religious manifestations is, according to most scholars, in the 9th and 10th centuries, when the Christianization of the southern region of Cantabria, after the resettlement promoted by the Astur-Leonese kings. Others, however, consider them to belong to the 6th and 7th centuries commissioned by Visigothic monks that entered this valley following the natural up course of the river Ebro. Besides the diversity of opinions it is therefore not a coincidence that those constructions present stylistic similarities with the neighbour Asturian art as well as with the Mozarabic art.
A great deal of those manifestations still survive in good shape as they had been excavated in firm rock, but highly malleable: sandstone and sonter. The church of the Virgen del Carmen de Cadalso is a good example that confirms the rule.
The small church is excavated in sandstone rock. The
door is placed on the southern wall. It finishes with a semi circular arch and two openings on its right: one circular and the other one rectangular, with a semicircular arch framed upon the rock. It has some brightness due to these two windows that open to the outside,
something unusual for this kind of constructions, as the intention is to plunge them in a sort of gloom. According to F. Iñiguez, a cave living space might have existed on this side as a porch. Above the church there are two graves excavated in the rock, of clear high medieval typology. One of them is characterized for having a clear antropomorhic outline, and the other one, a rectangular one. Not long ago there was an element unattached to the cave construction with a single small window, thought as a belfry; all of that disappeared overnight.
The interior has a single rectangular nave covered with an irregular barrel vault. The access to the sidewall is through a triumphal semi circular arch. The chevet is rectangular, with rounded corners and with a small window in the centre of the wall at the end. The whole is covered with a rough and distorted vault adapted to the shapes of the rock.
Other interesting information
Access: The church is located in the village of Valderredible, south of Cantabria, in the roadside CA275, at around 7 Km from Polientes, direction Escalada. GPS Coordinates: 42° 49′ 58″ N, 3° 53′ 3″ W.
Telephone: Bishopry of Santander.
Visiting hours: Ask for the keys at the house opposite the church, during week ends in summer.
BOHIGAS ROLDÁN, R.: “Yacimientos arqueológicos medievales del sector de la montaña cantábrica”. Tomo I. Monografías arqueológicas de la ACDPS nº 1, Santander. 1986.
IÑIGUEZ ALMECH, F.: “Algunos problemas de las viejas iglesias españolas”. Cuadernos de trabajos de la Escuela española de Arqueología de Roma”, VII, 1955, pp. 9-180.
AMONREAL JIMENO, L.A.: “Eremitorios rupestres altomedievales (El alto valle del Ebro). Universidad de Deusto. 1989.
GUTIERREZ LÓPEZ, B.: “La Colegiata de San Martín de Elines”. Colegiata-Parroquia de San Martín de Elines. 2005