Turismo Prerrománico > Countries > España > FUENTE DE LA FONCALADA


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Historic environment

<em><strong>The Foncalada fountain is a drinking water fountain, traditionally considered by historiography as built by order of the Asturian king Alfonso III in the city of Oviedo and located at the confluence of Calle Gascona and Calle Foncalada. It is considered the oldest civil monument in continuous use in Spain. The first documentary mention that we have of the fountain dates from the end of the 11th century (1096), where its presence is recorded as an outstanding topographical landmark, citing it as Fonte Incalata.</strong></em>

Its name comes from one of the inscriptions found on it, <i>fontem</i> <i>calatam</i>, which can be translated as “invoked source”.

<img class=”alignleft wp-image-85414″ title=”RECREACIÓN INFOGRÁFICA DE LA FONCALADA ©Imagen Mirabilia Ovetensia” src=”https://www.turismo-prerromanico.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FOTO1-34.jpg” alt=”” width=”400″ height=”299″ />Although the inscriptions seem to make clear the date of construction of this fountain, recently it has begun to be accepted that the origin of this building could be Roman. In fact, some archaeologists have begun to present only the part of the small fountain building as a medieval construction and assign the rest of the site to the early Imperial period.

The structure of the foundations of the Foncalada Fountain is similar to that of the groups known as “Pedras Formosas”. The “Pedras Formosas” are constructions made of stone and with unique architectural characteristics within the ancient architecture of the peninsular northwest. The area where these monuments have been found includes the north of Portugal, the west of Asturias and León and Galicia; the area in which during ancient times the culture known as the castros developed. The “Pedras Formosas” are located in fertile archaeological sites, and with a great abundance of water, they are semi-buried structures, rectangular in shape and with several rooms, and according to some studies they could function as steam baths or as a place of initiation of the young people from the nearby castros.

La Foncalada presents in its foundations an enormous similarity with the “Pedra Formosa” excavated in Ortigueira, province of A Coruña. Not only is its location typical of these old buildings, its architecture also presents characteristics of this typology.

Taking all this into account, it is very possible that the foundations of a large part of what is preserved today of the Foncalada is of Roman origin and that the gabled construction of the current fountain is of medieval origin, and built on the roman foundations.


Architecturally, the fountain has a rectangular floor plan, it is built in ashlar stone and three elements make up the monument: pond, aedicule and channel.

The pond is made up of a platform of enormous limestone blocks, carefully juxtaposed, which is delimited by two walls in its sides. The interior width is four meters, and the total length is not known, since the structure has not been completely excavated, although what is currently visible exceeds fourteen meters. The interior is accessed through two stairs located next to the main façade of the temple.

The aedicule or temple is a trapezoidal construction in plan, about 4×3 meters, and a height slightly higher than 4 meters. The rig is made of ashlar, with an elongated module, with very fine limestone joints. On the west and east façades there are two voussoired stone arches, semicircular, with a single thread. On the east façade, the arch extends into the interior as a vault that covers an interior chamber, with a maximum height of 2.50 meters.

Only a very small part of the feeding channel has been exhumed. It is made up of a large box of limestone blocks, almost cyclopean, which interlocks with the rear façade of the aedicule. The constructive relation and the uniformity of the dimensions of the interior alcove of the temple with that of the interior of the canal clearly indicate that these are simultaneous works. The origin of the waters is not known, it has not been possible to determine if it is a nearby outcrop or a collection and channeling of a flow that has its origin in a much more distant place.

The works carried out under the archaeological direction of Sergio Ríos and César García de Castro have shown that it was a monumental building for baths, also endowed with an important symbolic charge Jesus Christ, invoked as “Salvs” in the inscriptions that completely cover the front of the monument. Among the inscriptions at the top of the pediment you can see the Victoria Cross, characteristic of Alfonso III, with the apocalyptic Alpha and Omega.

Below the cross, two inscriptions appear:


“This sign protects the pious. This sign defeats the enemy”


“Lord, put the sign of salvation on this fountain so that you do not allow the beating angel to enter.”

The text responds to the usual formula used by the monarch Alfonso III and recorded in his building constructions: palace, castle-fortress, etc., whose inscriptions are preserved, at present, in a certain profusion. There are other remains of inscriptions, but their degree of deterioration is so advanced that it makes it difficult to read and interpret them.

Rafael Caballero for URBS REGIA

Other interesting information

Open. It is located on the public road



BORGE CORDOVILLA, F.J., 2011: “La Fuente de Foncalada (Oviedo): Aplicación de métodos gráficos e infográficos de análisis compositivo y metrológico a la formulación de una hipótesis de Anastilosis Virtual del Monumento”, Virtual Archaeology Review, Vol. 2, nº 3,165-168.
ESTRADA GARCÍA, R. – RÍOS GONZÁLEZ, S., 1995: “Excavaciones Arqueológicas en la plaza de Foncalada (Oviedo)”, Excavaciones Arqueológicas en Asturias, 1991-1994 Oviedo, 137-146.
RÍOS GONZÁLEZ, S. – ESTRADA GARCÍA, R. – CHAO ARANA, J., 1994: “La Fuente de Foncalada (Oviedo)”, Boletín del RIDEA, nº 144, Oviedo, 399-422.
RÍOS GONZÁLEZ, S., 1999: “La fuente de Foncalada: paralelos técnicos, formales y funcionales”, Zephyrus, 52, 261-278.


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