Turismo Prerrománico > Countries > España > SANTA MARÍA DE MIXÓS


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Previous notes

  • Declared artistic-historic monument in 1931.
  • It is mentioned in a document of the 12th century by which it is donated to the Monastery of Celanova, to which it belonged until the 16th century, when it was bought by the count of Monterrey.
  • It was restored between the 15th and 16th centuries, probably with the change of owners. Possibly during this period its three nave structure was replaced by the one with only one nave, including the new kind of covering.


Placed on an elevated position beside the Silver Route, between Monterrei and Laza, in a place called Moixelos years ago, we find this small church that at present consists of a rectangular nave with an only access on the southern side through an ogival arch and a chevet with three apses with rectangular external design; the central one, protruding slightly, is covered by a gabled roof and the lateral ones are lower and covered by a flat roof.

The chevet has been built based on very well carved ashlars, it has a small window on each apse, very narrow with Santa María de Mixos: Vista del costado sura big internal slanting and ending in a small horseshoe arch, carved on one stone and decorated with an external circunscribing flange. Its sidewall recalls the one of St. Miguel de Escalada and St. Cebrián de Mazote, although Mixós, as in Santa María de Wamba, does not have the usual butresses of Asturian art but, unlike Mixós, in Wamba the lateral apses have a two plan cover.
Originally it was a church with basilical plan with three apses and three naves; the central one somewhat wider than the lateral ones, separated by rounds of arches of which the springing of the first arch of the southern side of the central nave can still be seen. The three apses have a plan  with the shape of a prolonged semicircle and they can be reached by three prolonged horseshoe arches in 2/7 of their radius. They are covered by quarter sphere brick vaults that spring out upon an impost, also of brick placed in three rows; the central one in diagonal shape and the external ones in horizontal rows. The altars of the northern and central apses are supported by Roman altars; the one placed in the central apse has a dedicatory inscription to a pre Christian goddess from Lusitania.

The three original naves have disappeared, having been replaced later by the one at present. It seems that part of the external original walls were reutilized for this purpose, covering it with a wooden gabled roof. It is supposed that originally it was not vaulted as no remnants of buttresses have been found.

Although the arches of the apses get closer to the Visigothic module Santa María de Mixos: Vista parcial del testerothan to the Mozarabic one, and that its chevet, straight and tripartite externally, with a pointed out central part speak of an Asturian influence, all what remains of Santa María de Mixós makes us think that it is a Mozarabic construction of the first half of the 10th century.

In fact, its structure, based on well cut ashlars placed in horizontal rows, as well as the lack of buttresses separate it considerably from the Asturian art. Besides, there are horseshoe arches along the whole construction, not only in the windows but also on the accesses to the chevet. Another fact that helps to consider it as a church from the 10th century is the main entrance that, somewhat modified, is located on the southern side, quite usual among Mozarabic constructions.

Even more meaningful is the analysis of the apses, since besides having a plan with the shape of a prolonged circle, something very unusual in Visigothic architecture, its cover, based one quarter sphere domes does not have any precedent in Asturian art and only a very few cases in Visigothic art.

Santa María de Mixos: Vista parcial de la cabeceraWithout counting with an archeological study of the church and its environment and the corresponding analysis of its faces, that could complete the existing information so far, we can imagine it must have been a three nave church with basilical plan, separated by round of horseshoe arches, upon pillars of a similar structure to those of separation between the three apses, as there is no signal of columns nor capitals in everything thas has been preserved. The lateral naves would have been lower than the central one, as can be seen  with a naked eye in the interior faces of the walls, of a very different structure from  a height near the spring line of the access arches to the lateral apses, and would have been covered by a flat roof, like the central nave, although gabled in this case.

In summary, we may consider Santa María de Mixós within the large group of churches with basilical plan, with three naves separated by round of horseshoe arches and three apses with flat sidewall, inherited from the Asturian architecture, that was being adapted in different ways during the repopulation of the territories located north of the Duero river along the 10th century. Out of all of them, it seems one of the least influenced by the Islamic art, both, for the proportion of its horseshoe arches, prolonged only 2/7 of its radius, as well as for the covering of the apses, with quarter sphere vaults, quite usual in Roman architecture and not used in the rest of that group of churches, in which we find some barrel vaults and most of them of Andalusian type.

These special characteristics, together with the existence of several altars of a previous period, seem to indicate that out of all of them, this one is the one that has kept a greater inluence from Roman architecture, that was widely spread out in Galicia and that some remnants could be found in this area. 

Other interesting information

Access: At the exit from Orense, take A-52, direction Benavente-Madrid. Continue by A-52 for 49.8Km. Take exit 173 and continue by N-535, passing by Albarellos and Pazos up to Verín; continue by OU-1021, passing by Pousa until Mixós. The church is within the village, to the left, on an elevated position. Coordinates GPS: 41º57'44.68"N 7º27'16.03"W
Visiting hours: Arrange visit with Nelson, the person in charge of showing the church. Telephone: 639 709 975 .



Imagen del Arte Mozárabe; José Fernández Arenas
L'Art Préroman Hispanique - L'Art Mozarabe: ZODIAQUE


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