Spanish Romanesque

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Spanish Romanesque

Spanish Romanesque refers to the development of Romanesque art within the Hispanic-Christian realms of the Iberian Peninsula during the 11th and 12th centuries. While sharing stylistic characteristics with the broader European Romanesque style, Spanish Romanesque exhibits distinctive regional traits across the peninsula. Notably, Spanish Romanesque art did not flourish in the southern regions, which were under Muslim control (Al-Andalus). Sparse examples exist in the central areas, primarily towards the later period, with minimal presence south of the Ebro and Tagus rivers. The majority of Spanish Romanesque structures are concentrated in the northern third of the peninsula. Scholars delineate regional variations based on the east-to-west spread of Romanesque influence, categorizing them into “eastern kingdoms” such as Catalan, Aragonese, and Navarrese Spanish Romanesque  , and “western kingdoms” including Castilian-Leonese, Asturian, Galician, and Portuguese Romanesque styles. The First Romanesque, or Lombard Romanesque, notably thrived in Catalonia, while the broader Romanesque style proliferated along the route of the Camino de Santiago, influenced by the foundations of the Order of Cluny. Late Spanish Romanesque developments in the 13th century are particularly evident in rural constructions.

Country : European


Spanish Romanesque : Architecture

From the 11th century onward, European artistic influences, particularly from Burgundian Cluniac and Lombard monasteries, intersected with local artistic traditions such as Pre-Romanesque, Visigothic, Asturian, Mozarabic, and Repoblación art, as well as Andalusi and Mudéjar Romanesque styles. This amalgamation of influences, along with the distinctive Mudéjar Spanish Romanesque characterized by brickwork, flourished in regions like the northern plateau, Toledo, and Teruel, resulting in a rich and distinctive artistic expression.

Map depicting the spread of Romanesque. In pink, the areas of the Catalan Romanesque. In red, the areas of the Aragonese Romanesque. In blue, the areas of the Navarrese Romanesque. In orange, the
Map depicting the spread of Romanesque. In pink, the areas of the Catalan Romanesque. In red, the areas of the Aragonese Romanesque. In blue, the areas of the Navarrese Romanesque. In orange, the

Architectural forms spread gradually from east to west, with notable examples like Sant Pere de Rodes in Catalonia (1022), the Cathedral of Jaca in Aragon (1054), and San Martin de Frómista in Castile (1066), culminating in the grandeur of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (begun in 1075). The 12th century witnessed the pinnacle of Spanish Romanesque style, exemplified by landmarks such as the Monastery of Ripoll and churches of Boí and Taüll in Catalonia, the Castle of Loarre and Monastery of San Juan de la Peña in Aragon, and the Cathedral of Zamora and the Old Cathedral of Salamanca in Leon. Transition to Gothic architecture began in the late 12th century, evident in structures like the Cathedral of Tarragona and La Seu Vella in Lleida. Notable exceptions include central-plan churches influenced by models from the Holy Land, such as the Church of Saint Mary of Eunate in Navarre, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Torres del Río, and the Church of the Vera Cruz in Segovia.

Spanish Romanesque
Spanish Romanesque
Lateral nave (with edge vaults) and central nave (barrel vault) of the church of San Isidoro de León (left, startup of lobed arch of transept).
Lateral nave (with edge vaults) and central nave (barrel vault) of the church of San Isidoro de León (left, startup of lobed arch of transept).

Spanish Romanesque : Sculpture

The earliest examples of Romanesque sculpture in the Hispanic-Christian peninsular kingdoms are seen in two lintels from the Roussillon area, notable for their shared iconography. One lintel is housed in the Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines Abbey, dating back to 1020, while the other is located in the monastery of Sant Andreu de Sureda. Other significant works from the 11th century include the tympanum of the Cathedral of Jaca, the gables of San Isidoro in León, the Platerías façade of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela by Master Esteban, and the cloister of the monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos.

Moving into the 12th century, notable examples include the façades of Santa Maria de Ripoll, the Church of Santa María la Real in Sangüesa, the monastery of San Pedro el Viejo in Huesca, and the cloister of the monastery of San Juan de la Peña. Towards the late 12th century, we see works like the facades of the Church of Santa María del Camino in Carrión de los Condes and Santo Domingo in Soria. The shift towards Gothic influences is evident in some works from this period, such as the apostolate of the Cámara Santa in Oviedo, the facade of San Vicente in Ávila, and the Portico of Glory of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, created by Master Mateo. Another notable sculptor of the era was Arnau Cadell, known for the capitals of the cloister of Sant Cugat.

Among the round bulge carvings preserved in polychrome wood, common themes include depictions of Christ crucified (known as Majesty) or the Madonna with Child (known as sedes sapientiae or “Seat of Wisdom”). A particularly exceptional sculptural group demonstrating a transition towards Gothic style is the Davallament of Sant Joan de les Abadesses.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Santa Maria la Mayor (Toro).
Santa Maria la Mayor (Toro).
San Martin (Frómista).
San Martin (Frómista).
Sant Joan de les Abadesses.
Sant Joan de les Abadesses.
Santa Maria de Ripoll.
Santa Maria de Ripoll.

Spanish Romanesque : Painting

The Spanish Romanesque period boasts a wealth of remarkable frescoes, including notable examples like the Pantheon of the Kings of San Isidoro in León, which remain preserved ‘in situ’. Others, like those from San Baudelio de Berlanga and the hermitage of la Vera Cruz in Maderuelo, are now housed in the Prado Museum, along with a collection showcased in the National Art Museum of Catalonia.

Panel painting during this era often took the form of antependiums or altar frontals, particularly influenced by Italian-Byzantine styles, especially evident in Catalonia from the 12th century onwards. Examples like the Altar frontal from La Seu d’Urgell or The Apostles exemplify this fusion. As the period progressed, painting transitioned towards the Gothic style, characterized by increased narrative capacity and a departure from the stiffness of earlier works, as seen in pieces like the Altar frontal from Avià.

Creation of Adam and Original Sin. Hermitage of la Vera Cruz (Maderuelo)
Creation of Adam and Original Sin. Hermitage of la Vera Cruz (Maderuelo)
Front Avià
Front Avià
Front of Seu d'Urgell or of the Apostle
Front of Seu d'Urgell or of the Apostle

Spanish Romanesque : Sumptuary Laws

The manuscript preparation within the scriptoriums of monasteries and cathedrals was a remarkable endeavor that upheld the tradition of Beatus of Liébana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse while integrating influences from across Europe. Among the standout examples are the Libro de los Testamentos, the Tumbos Compostelanos, and the Codex Calixtinus, each showcasing the meticulous craftsmanship and cultural fusion of the period.

Textiles from liturgical vestments and tapestries have also endured, exemplified by masterpieces like the Tapestry of Creation from the Cathedral of Girona. These intricate textiles not only served religious purposes but also displayed exquisite artistry and design, reflecting the spiritual and aesthetic sensibilities of the time.

Meanwhile, the influence of Andalusian ivory carving flourished notably at the Leonese court, producing remarkable works. Goldsmiths, too, left their mark with elaborate pieces like the Cáliz de las Ágatas, also known as “of Doña Urraca,” and the Ark of San Isidoro. Additionally, artists adeptly incorporated techniques such as Limoges enamels, as evidenced in the Frontal of Santo Domingo de Silos, further enriching the artistic landscape of Spanish Romanesque art.

Romanesque Church in Spanish

When delving into the architectural marvels of Spain, one cannot overlook the captivating presence of Spanish Romanesque  churches. Spanish Romanesque architecture emerged during the 11th and 12th centuries, characterized by its robust, fortress-like appearance and intricate decorative elements. These churches, scattered across the Spanish countryside, serve as timeless testaments to the artistic and religious fervor of the medieval period.

One of the most striking features of Spanish Romanesque churches is their solid, massive construction, often using stone blocks and sturdy pillars to create a sense of permanence and strength. The exterior facades are adorned with intricate carvings depicting biblical scenes, mythical creatures, and symbolic motifs, showcasing the skilled craftsmanship of the era. Inside, visitors are greeted by dimly lit nave, supported by thick columns and crowned with barrel vaults or simple wooden ceilings, evoking a sense of awe and reverence.

Spanish Romanesque churches not only serve as architectural gems but also as repositories of history and culture, preserving the legacy of medieval Spain. From the stunning frescoes adorning the walls to the solemn atmosphere pervading the sanctuaries, each church offers a glimpse into a bygone era of faith, art, and societal upheaval. Exploring these sacred spaces provides not only a visual feast for the senses but also a profound connection to the rich tapestry of Spain’s cultural heritage.

Romanesque Spanish Art Facts

Spanish Romanesque art flourished during the 11th to 13th centuries, embodying a unique blend of architectural, sculptural, and decorative elements. Characterized by its robust forms, thick walls, and semicircular arches, Spanish Romanesque architecture reflects the influence of both Islamic and Christian traditions. One of the most notable examples is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, whose intricate facade and imposing presence exemplify the grandeur of this period.

The sculptural adornments of Spanish Romanesque churches often depict biblical scenes, saints, and symbolic motifs with a distinct Iberian flair. Intricately carved capitals and doorways narrate stories from the Bible and serve as a testament to the artistic prowess of the era. Additionally, the use of polychrome decoration, particularly in the churches of Catalonia, adds vibrant colors to the stone surfaces, further enriching the visual experience.

In addition to architecture and sculpture, Spanish Romanesque art encompasses other mediums such as illuminated manuscripts and metalwork. Monastic scriptoria produced elaborately decorated manuscripts, showcasing intricate calligraphy and miniature illustrations. Meanwhile, metalworkers crafted exquisite reliquaries and processional crosses, often adorned with precious metals and gemstones, reflecting the spiritual devotion and technical skill of the artisans of the time.

Spanish Romanesque : Areas



Most frequent questions and answers

1. What was the Royal Fashion in the 1200s?

In the 1200s, European royal fashion epitomized opulence and refinement, reflecting the prestige and power of monarchs across the continent. Royal attire was characterized by sumptuous fabrics such as velvet, silk, and brocade, adorned with intricate embroidery and embellishments crafted from precious metals and gemstones. Men’s fashion saw the emergence of elaborate tunics and robes, often featuring ornate patterns and lavish fur trims, while women’s attire boasted voluminous gowns with exaggerated sleeves and intricate drapery. Royal garments were meticulously tailored to accentuate status and authority, with regal symbols and heraldic motifs woven into the fabric. Accessories played a crucial role in completing the royal ensemble, with crowns, scepters, and jeweled belts serving as symbols of sovereignty and majesty. Overall, royal fashion in the 1200s showcased the pinnacle of medieval craftsmanship and luxury, setting the standards for nobility and aristocracy throughout Europe.

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European fashion in the 1550s England epitomized the opulence and grandeur of the Renaissance era. The silhouette of the period was defined by elaborate and structured garments, reflecting the social hierarchy and status of individuals. Nobles flaunted extravagant attire crafted from luxurious fabrics such as silk, satin, and velvet, adorned with intricate embroidery and lavish embellishments like pearls and precious stones. Women’s gowns featured exaggerated cone-shaped bodices and voluminous skirts, while men donned doublets with padded shoulders and slashed sleeves, paired with fitted hose and embellished with intricate embroidery. Accessories played a significant role in completing the ensemble, with elaborate ruffs, jeweled belts, and feathered hats adding flair to the attire. Fashion in 1550s England was not merely a means of self-expression but a reflection of power, wealth, and social standing in a society deeply entrenched in hierarchy and tradition.

4. What is European men’s style?

European men’s style embodies a sophisticated yet effortless aesthetic, blending timeless elegance with contemporary flair. From the streets of Paris to the boutiques of Milan, European fashion for men exudes confidence through tailored pieces, attention to detail, and a keen sense of individuality. Embracing both classic and modern elements, European men effortlessly mix and match high-quality basics with statement pieces, creating looks that are refined yet approachable. Whether it’s the impeccable tailoring of Italian suits or the laid-back coolness of French streetwear, European men’s style emphasizes quality craftsmanship, subtle luxury, and a nonchalant attitude that sets it apart on the global fashion stage.

5. What is the European style of English?

The European style of English encompasses a unique blend of linguistic influences, shaped by centuries of cultural exchange and linguistic diversity across the continent. While rooted in British English, European English has evolved to incorporate elements from various European languages, reflecting the rich tapestry of cultures within the region. This style is characterized by its clarity, precision, and elegance, with a preference for formal expressions and nuanced vocabulary. Moreover, European English often emphasizes grammatical correctness and adherence to standardized spelling and punctuation conventions, reflecting a commitment to linguistic excellence. Overall, the European style of English serves as a testament to the continent’s linguistic heritage and its ongoing contribution to the global linguistic landscape.

European Fashion

European fashion is renowned for its sophistication, innovation, and timeless elegance, setting trends that reverberate across the globe. From the haute couture houses of Paris to the avant-garde designers of Milan, European fashion embodies a diverse range of styles that cater to every taste and occasion. With a focus on quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, European fashion seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, offering a curated selection of clothing and accessories that exude luxury and refinement. Whether it’s the understated chic of Scandinavian minimalism or the opulent extravagance of Italian glamour, European fashion celebrates individuality while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sartorial excellence. Embracing both heritage and innovation, European fashion continues to captivate and inspire fashion enthusiasts worldwide, cementing its status as a global powerhouse in the industry.

6. What was Queen Elizabeth’s fashion?

Queen Elizabeth I’s fashion was iconic and influential, reflecting the grandeur and elegance of the Elizabethan era. Her style was characterized by elaborate gowns adorned with intricate embroidery, jewels, and lace collars, known as ruffs. She favored vibrant colors, such as rich reds, deep blues, and luxurious golds, to signify her royal status. Elizabeth’s fashion choices were not only a reflection of her personal taste but also a means of asserting her power and authority. Her extravagant ensembles set the standard for European fashion during her reign, inspiring trends that endured for generations.

7. How tall was Elizabeth 1st?

Elizabeth I, the iconic queen of England, stood at an impressive height for her time, towering above many of her contemporaries at approximately 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm). Her stature not only commanded attention but also influenced the fashion trends of her era. Elizabeth’s regal presence set the stage for European fashion, as her court became a hub of sartorial innovation and extravagance. Her preference for intricate gowns adorned with jewels and elaborate ruffs sparked a craze for opulent attire among the nobility. This period witnessed the emergence of sumptuous fabrics, intricate embroidery, and voluminous silhouettes, all reflecting the grandeur associated with the Elizabethan era. As a trendsetter and style icon, Elizabeth I left an indelible mark on European fashion, shaping the aesthetic sensibilities of her time and leaving a lasting legacy that continues to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts to this day.

8. Why did Queen Elizabeth the first wear makeup?

Queen Elizabeth I’s use of makeup was not merely for vanity but also served strategic and symbolic purposes in the context of European fashion and politics of her time. During the Elizabethan era, pale skin was considered a mark of aristocracy and refinement, as it signified one’s distance from outdoor labor. The queen’s application of white lead-based makeup, which gave her skin a starkly pale complexion, was not only fashionable but also served as a visual representation of her royal status and purity. Additionally, her use of cosmetics, including vibrant lip colors and rouge, allowed her to project an image of youthfulness and vitality despite her advancing age. Moreover, the elaborate and theatrical makeup worn by Queen Elizabeth I reflected the grandeur and spectacle of the Elizabethan court, reinforcing her authority and power over her subjects and foreign dignitaries alike. Thus, her makeup choices were as much a political statement as they were a fashion statement, solidifying her iconic status in the annals of European history.


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