Turismo Prerrománico > Phases > Visigothic > Transition > CRIPTA DE SAN VICENTE


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  • To our collaborator Germán Anastasio, who has provided us with all the images on this sheet and the bibliography used to prepare the text.

Previous notes

  • Discovered in 1989 under the 15th century chapel called Cárcel de San Vicente Mártir.
  • Located on a necropolis in which the remains of the saint were buried.
  • It was attached to the north transept of the Visigoth cathedral of Valencia
  • The entire complex has been museumized after its study and restoration.

Historic environment

During the persecution of Christians decreed by Diocletian and Maximian, Saint Vincent of Huesca was arrested and died under torture in the year 304 in Valencia. Years later his body was buried in a necropolis that was then outside the city, where in the 6th century a cruciform church was built whose north arm was the underground chamber discovered when restoring the chapel of San Vicente, a chapel that Jaime I had built in honor of the saint after the conquest of Valencia from the Arabs, who had used the building as palatine baths.

This chapel, which was replaced by a new one in 1427, known as Cárcel de San Vicente, destroyed during the civil war and restored in 1970, was the subject of an archaeological investigation in 1989 in which a funerary chapel was discovered in the crypt Visigoth in a very good state of preservation, which was connected to the Visigoth cathedral whose head and two tombs from the same period have also been discovered.


Located in the first nucleus of Valencia, which must have had a bishopric shortly after the martyrdom of San Vicente, although it is

Documented for the first time in 546, the crypt was a building attached to the Visigoth cathedral, built in the 5th century on the maximum cardo of the Roman Valentia. The chapel was part of the episcopal complex that, in addition to the cathedral, included a church, a possible baptistery and another chapel twin to the one studied, as well as an extensive necropolis.

When excavating the site of the building that had surrounded the San Vicente Prison, among other Roman remains from the Republican and Imperial periods, a plinth with a Roman mural painting, a bucranium and a fragment of a Paleo-Christian sarcophagus were found. But what is really important is that it was discovered that the crypt of the chapel was part of a Visigothic building that continued to be used after the arrival of the Arabs, as evidenced by the amount of ceramics, bronze jugs, a decorated ostrich egg, and a dinar dating from 1007-1008 appeared in the excavations The entire area had been definitively written off in the 11th century.

The chapel is a work of masonry in the corners, partly reused, and double-faced masonry with filling between both faces, mostly plundered material, although the material used in the apse area and the transept of the chapel is very different. from the rest of the building.

In the shape of a Latin cross formed by a rectangular apse, a transept and a nave wider than the transept divided into three sections separated by adjoining pilasters that corresponded to two buttresses on the outside, of which only the one located on the side remains. north, with an arcosolium in each section of the lateral walls. The entire building was vaulted, the vault of the north arm of the transept still being preserved. On its western side, the nave gave access to the south nave of the cathedral transept, of which remains have been found along with those of part of the apse.

From a liturgical point of view, the building has three distinct areas: apse, transept and nave, separated by limestone gates with bevelled decoration carved on two planes on both sides, typical of Visigothic art from the 7th century, which is still preserved today. preserved in-situ, embedded between marble bars with vertical grooves as a support. The altar, which appeared in the excavations forming part

from the filling of an Islamic well closed around the 10th century, it is a single foot, with a base, column, capital and top that support a pink marble table.

It is believed that the funerary building was built by Bishop Justiniano (492-547) marking a clear differentiation in its spaces: the tomb of this bishop has appeared in the transept, separated by gates from the chancel, which would be dedicated to the tomb of the saint, and the nave with arcosolia intended for other burials.

The apse has a square floor plan, both externally and internally, the same width as the transept, connected to it by a semicircular arch, like those separating the naves, arches that supported a square dome.

Of great interest are also the two cist tombs built with large stone bands that exist in two corners outside the building.

The entire complex, after being restored, has been turned into a museum, including both the chapel in its current state and an exhibition of the Roman, Visigothic and Arab remains prior to the 12th century that have appeared in the excavation and is accompanied by a 26-minute video in multiple languages.

Other interesting information

  • The Archaeological Crypt of the San Vicente Mártir Prison is located in Plaza del Arzobispo, 3, in front of the City Museum and a few steps from the Cathedral.
  • Telephone: 96 208 45 73
  • Email: patrimoniohistorico@valencia.es