Asturias holds a unique position as one of the few regions in Spain that was not completely overtaken by the Muslim Moors. The Battle of Covadonga in 722, in what is today Asturias, marked the beginning of a series of numerous battles between Christian and Muslim forces lasting until the final year of the Christian Reconquista in 1492 in Granada, Andalucia. This fact is also a source of historic pride as well for many Spaniards. In fact, many consider Asturias to be the birthplace of the Spanish Reconquista. It was in these early centuries (8th – 10th), in the new kingdom of Asturias, that a new artistic and architectural style was developed that is unique to Asturias, the Asturian Pre-Romanesque style.
This style is described in detail and well-documented by numerous sources and will not be discussed extensively in this post.
Although the Pre-Romanesque Asturian style has some external influences, I truly appreciate the predominately “homegrown”, indigenous uniqueness of the style. While the Iberian Peninsula is marked by numerous impressive monumental examples of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque, (Mudéjar, Manueline, Mozarabe, and Moorish Andalusian styles I’ll leave for possible future posts), the Pre-Romanesque style in Spain is synonymous with the region of Asturias and nowhere else in the world. Although not as imposing and grandiose in size like the cathedrals of Leon, Burgos, or Santiago de Compostela, the monuments of Asturias in my opinion convey a sense of architectural distinctiveness noticeable even by laymen such as myself. They do not follow a “lock-step” adherence to any other style (e.g. gothic cathedrals) from either before or after its architectural zenith. The photos above (in order) are of: the Victory Cross of Asturias, Pillar Base from San Miguel de Lillo Church, the Old Tower of the San Miguel Cathedral, the Cámara Santa (Holy Chamber) and detail shot, the Crypt of Santa Leocadia, San Tirso arches and detail shot, Santa Maria del Narranco and detail shots, the Fountain of Foncalada and detail shot, followed by the San Miguel de Lillo Church with detail shots. Some of my photographic survey was curtailed due to inclement weather, surprising for Asturias.