The pre-Romanesque monuments of Asturias are a set of monuments, declared a World Heritage Site. They were built during the Kingdom of Asturias in the period between 718 and 925, years in which said kingdom existed.
To the churches we are talking about here we must add the Holy Chamber that we already talked about in the Cathedral of Oviedo, the Foncalada, also in Oviedo.
All of them form the World Heritage Site ” Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of Asturias ” and it is one of the best things to see in Oviedo and its surroundings.
Route through the pre-Romanesque churches of Asturias
Santa María del Naranco, the most famous of all
The Church of Santa María del Naranco best known of all and a symbol of Oviedo and Asturias.
Its construction dates back to 848 and was designed as a palace for King Ramiro I. Later, in the 13th century, it was transformed into a church after remodeling due to a collapse.
The church is 20 meters long and 6 meters wide and consists of 2 floors. The ground floor has a vaulted ceiling and it is believed that it was used as the room in which the King held audiences while the upper floor was used as a noble room.
The building stands out for its barrel vaults, buttresses and transverse arches to support the vault. To access the upper part there is an external staircase that takes you to it.
The characteristic of this building are undoubtedly the east and west facades where there are viewpoints with 3 arches on columns that have become the symbol of Asturias.
San Miguel de Lillo, very close to the previous one
Very close to Santa María del Naranco is another beautiful pre-Romanesque church.
It was built in the same year also ordered to be built by King Ramiro I. Unlike the previous one, this one was a church from the beginning, being dedicated to San Miguel.
San Miguel de Lillo originally had a basilica floor plan with three naves, but in the 13th century it suffered a collapse that destroyed a large part of the building and today only the vestibule and the beginning of the naves remain.
The barrel vault also predominates in this building, with the naves separated by arches resting on columns. The reliefs of the entrance door and some decorative paintings that are still preserved stand out. Currently its state of conservation is quite pitiful.
San Julian de Prados
The construction of San Julián de Prados was ordered by King Alfonso II in the 9th century, although the exact year of its construction is unknown.
Like the previous one, it has a basilica floor plan with 3 naves, although they are separated by square pillars on which semicircular arches rest.
This temple is better preserved than that of San Miguel de Lillo and what stands out the most are its perfectly preserved stucco paintings.
In these paintings there are no human or animal forms represented, but rather various objects, geometric shapes or buildings and they stand out for their great variety of colors. The marble capitals of the columns are also very interesting.
This church is located in the interior of Oviedo next to the road that comes from Gijón.
Saint Christina of Lena
In Pola de Lena, about 35 km south of Oviedo, is this pre-Romanesque church.
It was built in the middle of the 9th century in the time of King Ramiro I, therefore being from the same period as the two that are found on Monte del Naranco.
The building is in the shape of a Greek cross with a single rectangular nave with two side chapels, a vestibule and an apse.
This form was not usual in pre- Romanesque churches, making it a unique building in its time, although it does have a barrel vault, transverse arches and buttresses like the rest of the churches. Inside it can be seen that the floor is at two heights, leaving the altar higher and it stands out for the paintings inside.
You can find more information on the official page of the pre-Romanesque monuments of Asturias.