The Cathedral in Oviedo

posted in: Asturias, Europe, Spain | 2

The Camino Primitivo, the original pilgrim route, started in Oviedo. The Camino Primitivo is apparently a difficult route of c.310kms through mountainous country, and it seems likely to me that it began from the Cathedral in Oviedo. The Cathedral is a complex building which cannot possibly be shown or understood in one brief visit so this is just a taste.

Cathedral Square

The first building on this site was a Pre-Romanesque Basilica; then, in 780AD, King Fruela I of the Asturias founded a Cathedral on the same site. Today’s Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo dates from the 12C and has been developed and changed over the centuries.

Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo
Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo
King Alfonso II
King Alfonso II
The Garden of the Kings
The Garden of the Kings alongside the Cathedral
West door of the Cathedral of Oviedo
West door of the Cathedral
Carvings on the Cathedral of Ovedo
Carvings over the side of the portico
Cathedral of Oviedo
Door of the Alms leading into/out of the Cloister

Inside the Cathedral

We had seen several Cathedrals by now (Leon, Astorga, Lugo, Mondonedo) but again we stood in wonder at the vision and ability of these Mediaeval builders.

The main altarpiece of 1512-17 was made by Juan de Balmaseda, Guillermo de Holanda and Esteban de Antwerp and it glows in the subdued light inside the building.

High altar in the Cathedral of Oviedo
High altar
Cathedral of Oviedo
The high altar
Cathedral in Oviedo
Admiring, perhaps reflecting

A statue of San Salvador of the 13C is particularly special to pilgrims, but there are many beautiful things to see inside the Cathedral. The stained glass above the clerestory, the chapels in the ambulatory, the rose window above the organ at the West Door, and so on. Sadly this was another church with an entrance fee and ‘popping’ in and out was not possible as a passing visitor.

San Salvador 13C in the Cathedral in Oviedo
San Salvador
Stained glass in San Salvador
Stained glass

The Cloister of the Cathedral

The Cloister dates from 1300-1440 and, like all these old cloisters, is peaceful and quiet. At ground level it is Gothic in style and replaced an earlier Romanesque cloister. An upper floor was added in the 18C. A Diocesan Museum accessed from the Cloister is well worth visiting.

Cloister of the Cathedral in Oviedo
The Cloister of the Cathedral in Oviedo
Door of the Alms into the Cloister
Door of the Alms into the Cloister

The Chapter House

Remains of the Gothic Choir Stalls preserved in the Chapter House
Remains of the Gothic Choir Stalls preserved in the Chapter House

Altarpiece of the Lamentations

This altarpiece in the museum was on the tombstones of Juan de Candamo and de las Tablas and his wife Catalina González de Nava. He was the Master of Works in the Cathedral from 1458 to 1489,

Cathedral in Oviedo
Entry to the Museum from the Cloister
Cathedral in Oviedo
Altarpiece of the Lamentations 11C

Camara Santa in the Cathedral in Oviedo

Alfonso II commissioned the Camara Santa in the 9C to house important relics. It is a double-storey building with no internal connection between the two levels. In the upper chamber, the Chapel of San Miguel, there are the most beautiful carved columns which were added in the 12C. The lower chamber is the Crypt of Santa Leocadia. The Camara Santa is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Victory Cross dates to the 9C and was a gift to the Cathedral by King Alfonso III. Also in the Camara Santa is the Arca Santa, dated to the 11C/12C, and used to protect sacred relics. It is built of oak and covered in silver-gilt.

Arca Santa in the Cathedral in Oviedo
Arca Santa
The Victory . Cross 10C in the Cathedral in Oviedo
The Victory Cross 10C
Camara Santa in the Cathedral in Oviedo
The Crypt of Santa Leocadia
Camara Santa from the outside
Camara Santa from the outside

Refreshments!

Exploring is hard work which demands a little refreshment. We also enjoy ‘people-watching’ and so we settled down in a cafe overlooking the busy square. This was our ‘go-to’ place and on our third visit the waitress took out the glasses before we ordered!

Tortilla and a glass of wine
Tortilla and a glass of wine

Further information

The Camino Primitivo
World Heritage sites in and around Oviedo
Full information about the Cathedral
Interesting website!

2 Responses

  1. World Heritage Sites in Oviedo | London Traveller

    […] King Alfonso II of Asturias built a palace in Oviedo which included a Chapel, The Santa Camara (9C). The Chapel also contained special reliquaries, such as the Arca Santa and the Cross of the Angels. These relics were removed from the south of Spain where the Moors were in control and where they might have been destroyed. Over time the Chapel became part of the Cathedral of San Salvador. […]

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