Turismo Prerrománico > Countries > España > SAN SALVADOR DE PRIESCA


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Previous notes

      • Declared Historical Artistic Monument on June 3rd, 1931.
      • The lateral compartments were modified during the Baroque period and the
        attached porticoes were added.
      • During the initial restoration in 1914 the consecration inscriptions were
        destroyed. It was burned down in 1936 and immediately repaired after the war by
        L. Menéndez Pidal.

Historic environment

Located on a hill very near Villaviciosa, San Salvador de Priesca is the last
building of Asturian Art that has survived until now. It was consecrated in 921,
when Alphonse the Third had already died, the court had moved to León and the
Mozarabic style had been imposed in all conquered territories. In spite of that
it is considered to belong to the artistic period of this great Asturian
monarch, although it shows a clear decline of a style in extintion, because it
was unable to renovate its structures while showing elements of the new
Mozarabic art in some painting and in the horseshoe arches of some of the
windows. As a great part of the Asturian churches, it was burnt in 1936,
although in this case only the roof burned (it was still the original one).
After being restaured it is in good shape having kept all of its sculptured
decoration and some original paintings.


Very similar to the San Salvador de Priesca: Plan according to Manzanareschurch of San Salvador de

, located at some 20Km. distance, but without keeping its

vaulted cover, which allows a greater width of the main nave; its structure is

the tradictional one according to the normalization that affected the Asturian

religious buildings San Salvador de Priesca: Chevet and southern sideduring the periods of Alphonse the

Second and Alphonse the Third. Externally, it is a three nave church, with a

later attached portico at the southern side and four big rectangular windows,

with a discharging arch in brick and lattice work at each side of the main nave,

upon the roofs of the aisles. It has a flat chevet with three apses separated by

buttresses, a window on each of them, and another one of two horseshoe arches

upon a central pilaster, in the main chapel’s upper plan, upon a high chamber

not accessible from the inside. The main façade is also flat with a central door

in round arch upon decorated imposts, buttresses on the separation line of the

naves and a lately introduced belfry at the end of the western wall. There are

aslo some buttresses irregularly deployed on the lateral walls that had, as in

most Asturian churches of those two periods, two compartments at the level of

the last stretch of the naves, that do not any longer exist.

At its interior, the iconostasis has San Salvador de Priesca: View of the naves and central apsedisappeared and the church is formed by two

pillars and two decorated boards. It stood up until the middle of last century.

It is also totally traditional: basilical plan with three naves separated by

round arches in brick upon squared ashlar pillars, with molded imposts that

divide it in four stretches. The first one corresponds to a portico as wide as

the main nave, and two lateral compartments to access a higher tribune built in

wood. The naves were San Salvador de Priesca: Detail of the central apse's lateral series of archescovered with a flat wooden roof in the shape of

scissor framework, forming a continuous cornice; a cover that seems to have

existed in its original state until the fire of 1936. The chevet is a very

interesting one, formed by the three apses of the same width than the naves and

covered by a barrel vault. The central one has one triumphal arch supported by

columns and capitals of veined leaves, similar to those of ValdeSan Salvador de Priesca: Detail of the paintings preserved in the southern sidediós, and

decorated with blank series of arches, formed in the lateral walls by three

arches of equal size, upon a plinth and under an impost that supported the

vault, different in height to the central one; all of them upon columns and

capitals with simple but very beautiful vegetal decoration. At the sides, the

arch leans on impost capitals upon pillars and, though they did not count with

blank series of arches, they keep the decorated impost in the vault’s base.

Rests of the original painting is preserved in the apses and on

the walls. The kind and colours are very close to

those in San Julián de los

and the mosaics in Veranes, that include big ovals around the

arches decorated with concentric circles between them in the chevet’s blank

arches; and the rest, located on the chevet’s walls and on the southern wall,

with geometrical drawings, though there are also some human figures within a box

that seem to be related already with the Mozarabic painting.


The comparative analysis of this last Asturian Pre-Romanesque monument and the
way to have come to it from the first churches of Alphonse the SeView from the northwestcond’s period;
for example, San Pedro de
, stopping to consider intermediate works like San Miguel de Lillo and San Salvador de Valdediós,
clearly show the reason for the disappearace of an artistic trend so rich and important in the medieval European panorama, that
besides extinguishing with its own limitations, it set an important part of the
bases of all the Romanesque Art. In fact, we are before a very interesting
monument for its intrinsical worth, both interior and exterior, its volumes’
design, its sculptoric and pictorial decoration. However, it is at the same time
the demonstration of a comeback to the initial model, or expressed differently,
over one hundred years have been wasted, neglecting the roads open in the
Ramirense period that remained suffocated in Valdediós maybe because the
technical kowledege had been lost or, according to our point of view, neither
the effort nor the risk of planning vaults that forced to reduce the width of
the naves was worth it, breaking thus the established model, as they were
compelled to stick to fixed structures designed for buildings with flat cover.

Other interesting information

Access: Exit Oviedo by A-66 to Langreo/Santander. Take A-64 until the
exit to Villaviciosa/Rodiles. After three roundabouts take N-632 until VV-15 and
continue to Priesca. Total distance: 56.1Km. GPS Coordinates: 43º 29′
6,80″N 5º 21′ 31,55″W.
Information telephone:Oficina de Turismo de
Villaviciosa: 985 89 17 59 or parish priest of Priesca: 985 97 67 12

Visiting hours: Call the parish priest. Usually it can be visited on
Sundays after the mass.



Arte Pre-románico Asturiano: Antonio Bonet Correa

L’Art Preroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Ars Hispanie: Tomo II
Asturiano: José Manuel Pita Andrade
Guía del Arte Prerrománico Asturiano:
Lorenzo Arias Páramo


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