The Cathedral of San Salvador de Oviedo, also known as Sancta Ovetensis, is a Gothic temple whose construction began at the end of the 14th century and was delayed for three more centuries. It is one of the most important cathedral complexes in Spain, with more than 1,200 years of history, it has witnessed the evolution of the Christian kingdoms of the north of the Peninsula during the Middle Ages.
It houses artistic styles such as pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. This historic complex of temples has its origins in the original basilica built by King Alfonso II of Asturias, was built in the fourteenth century on a pre-Romanesque complex of the ninth century of which some buildings survived, such as the Holy Chamber, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Several buildings make up this historic complex of temples, starting with the Holy Chamber. A palatine chapel that is integrated into the structure of the cathedral. The function it could have had is martyrial, whose years date back to the reign of Alfonso II. It consists of two floors, on the lower level, are the remains of Santa Leocadia and San Eulogio. The upper floor was renovated between the 12th and 13th centuries, as this part was badly damaged during the Asturian Revolution of 1934.
Romanesque Tower or Old Tower, is another addition to the Cathedral of Oviedo, on the southern side. Two floors of Romanesque masonry were erected, a first level with a semicircular opening with a blind arch and a decorative impost. And the upper floor, covered with a schiffed vault, whose faces have openings covered with semicircular archivolts. In addition the motifs of the capitals are themes of antiquity as: birds apicadas, sogueados or interlacing.
The Gothic cloister, located to the south, impresses visitors. Its construction was prolonged during the 14th-15th centuries. This cloister replaced an earlier Romanesque one from the 12th century. It has two floors that are articulated in galleries of four and three arches. On the lower floor, one can contemplate the three Gothic stages it has. It was restored in 2004, and since then the galleries have been used for the exhibition of relics.
The Cathedral of Oviedo is of vital importance for the history of the Camino de Santiago, since it was from here that Alfonso II the Chaste left for Compostela to worship the remains of the Apostle Santiago, in what is known as the first Jacobean pilgrimage and the original Camino de Santiago. Today, the pilgrims who walk this stretch of the route follow the so-called Primitive Way, starting from the cathedral of Oviedo itself.
Surely you have heard the expression: "he who goes to Santiago and not to the Savior, visits the servant and not the master", which is related to the Cathedral of Oviedo itself, its very important relics and the so-called Camino de El Salvador. This pilgrimage route was born in the Middle Ages along the French Way, attracting numerous pilgrims, who took a detour to visit the cathedral and its famous relics.
According to tradition, among these relics is kept the Holy Shroud of Christ (the burial garment of Jesus of Nazareth), with a great power of attraction among medieval pilgrims.
The great European Gothic cathedrals have two tall towers on their sides, but Oviedo Cathedral has only one. This is because the architects experienced many problems during construction and decided to make only one.
Despite what many people may think, Oviedo Cathedral is not the oldest cathedral in Spain. This honour goes to the Basilica of San Martín de Mondoñedo, located in the town of Foz (Lugo), which was built in the 6th century.
The temple is located in the Plaza Alfonso II el Casto, s/n in the city of Oviedo (Principality of Asturias).
During the Revolution of 1934, specifically on the night of 11-12 October, the revolutionaries gained access to the interior of the Cathedral and burnt the priceless choir stalls, as well as filling the chapel of Santa Leocadia with boxes containing 400 kilos of dynamite and blowing up the whole complex.
Inside the Holy Chamber of the Cathedral we can find relics such as the Holy Ark, the Holy Shroud, the Victoria Cross, the Cross of the Angels and the Ark of the Agates, among others.
According to tradition, the interior of this 11th century goldsmith's work came from Jerusalem and contains relics of Jesus and Mary, as well as the shroud of the face of Jesus. This monumental reliquary was paid for by Alfonso VI of León and Castile and his sister Urraca.
The Holy Shroud is located in the Chapel of San Miguel, also known as the Holy Chamber of Oviedo, which today belongs to the city's cathedral, but in the early Middle Ages was a separate pre-Romanesque church near the Tower of San Miguel.
This relic is exposed to the public only three days a year: Good Friday, the Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September), Saint Matthew the Apostle's Day (21 September). The rest of the year it is kept in the Holy Chamber.
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© Copyright LA VOZ DE GALICIA S.A. Polígono de Sabón, Arteixo, A CORUÑA (ESPAÑA) Inscrita en el Registro Mercantil de A Coruña en el Tomo 2438 del Archivo, Sección General, a los folios 91 y siguientes, hoja C-2141. CIF: A-15000649