ROMANESQUE CHURCHES OF NORTHERN SPAIN PART 1: Itineraries with Aguilar de Campóo (Palencia) as a base. Itinerary 3

Itinerary 3

This itinerary includes two churches – San Juan Bautista in Moarves de Ojeda and Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos in Olmos de Ojeda – and the Monastery of San Andrés de Arroyo. They are all close to one another and are located a short distance southwest of Aguilar de Campóo. The quality of sculpting in all three is of a remarkably high standard. All can be visited on single trip in a morning or afternoon.

Moarves de Ojeda, Palencia
Moarves de Ojeda is 16 kilometres southwest of Aguilar de Campoó ‘as the crow flies’. Take the A-67 or N-611 south from Aguilar. At Nogales de Pisuerga take the P-223 west. After 3.4 km turn left, still on the P-223. At the crossroads reached in another 2.2 km, turn right (north) on to the P-227 and drive the 5.1 km to Moarves de Ojeda. The church of San Juan Bautista is in the middle of the village. Its coordinates are 42°42'15.66"N, 4°24'42.44"W and it is an altitude of 905 metres.
1. South entrance.

San Juan Bautista was built ca. 1185. It has a single nave with a square apse. It is constructed of well-fitted, golden-coloured ashlars. The stone was coloured by immersing it in lime water mixed with some iron oxide. This not only gave it this wonderful warm hue but it also protected the stone because, over time, the combination of lime water and pigment crystallised on the surface and allowed the stone to breath. The main entrance is on the south and it is considered to be one of the jewels of Romanesque in the province of Palencia. The entrance and the frieze above it, which project from the wall, have kept their golden colour better than the rest of the church because they are protected by an overhanging roof supported by a cornice decorated with flat beads in the manner of St Andres de Arroyo. It has a blocked small entrance on the north which was obscured by an accumulation of soil, and has only very recently been rediscovered.
2. Frieze above the south entrance.

Frieze above the south entrance
Directly above the entrance is a frieze supported by a corbel at each end. The right corbel has a knight fighting a dragon, symbolising good overcoming evil. The one on the left has the carving of a slave with Negroid features – thick lips and curly hair – and with an iron collar around his neck. It is remarkable that a Negro slave appears at such an early date; perhaps he came from North Africa with the Arab invaders. 
3. Left corbel carving of a slave.

The frieze has Christ in Majesty in the centre, surrounded by the Tetramorph, with the three-dimensional figures of the apostles lined up on either side of him, each holding a book or parchment roll with their name on it. Each apostle stands within a multi-lobed arch supported by columns topped with floral capitals derived from San Andres de Arroyo. Above each arch is a representation of the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Two sculptors worked here – one on the frieze and one on the capitals supporting the entrance arch. The figures of the frieze are rather hieratic. The folds of their clothes are treated in a staid manner – straight and angular by comparison with the folds on the capitals which are full of movement, resembling figures in the late-Classical period, clearly indicating they were carved by a different sculptor to the one who worked on the frieze. Some art historians feel that this second artist was a Frenchman who had worked in St Pons (Hérault) or St Etienne of Toulouse and probably also in Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos (transept capitals Samson). They point out the similarities in style with the north capital of the chancel arch and others in Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos and in Barrio de Santa Maria. During this period, at the end of the 12th century, many churches were built in Palencia under the protection of Alfonso VIII – such as Santa Maria la Real, Aguilar de Campóo, San Andres del Arroyo, and Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos – and it would not have been difficult to find itinerant French stone masons working in Palencia.
The source of this apostolate is to be found in Santiago from Carrión de los Condes and it was also widely used in the provinces of Burgos and Palencia. Christ sits within a mandorla carved with undulating stems and four petal flowers, each having a cross at its centre; it is very similar to the frieze in Carrión. This one is older by 5 or 10 years and is more static. Both churches also have a similar Matthew (man), standing in water and offering Christ his Book. Kingsley Porter, in his Romanesque Sculpture of the Pilgrimage Road, vol. VI, studied this church and he considered it to be a copy of that of Carrión de los Condes. Porter feels that the apostolate influenced other compositions placed within arches like the capital of the three Marys in Santa Eufemia de Pozuelo or the archivolt of Revilla de Santullán. Garcia Guinea dates the frieze to 1185. He also believes that the capitals were the work of a different sculptor to the one who carved the frieze. The capitals were carved before the frieze.
South entrance
The plain arched entrance is surrounded by 5 archivolts and a dripstone with two narrow concave mouldings. From inside out they are:
1: Acanthus leaves with their tips rolled over.
2: A round moulding with, on either side, a concave one with balls.
3, 5: Four rows of billet decoration.
4: Plain round moulding.

They rest on an impost forming right angles. The left impost is carved with palm leaves and the right with palm leaves within interlacing – a detail frequently found in the churches of northern Palencia.
South Entrance Capitals
The theme of the capitals is the unfolding of a spectacle with animal tamers, lions, musicians, wrestlers and finally a couple of well-dressed men, singing or reciting poetry from a book as part of the festivities. On the right capitals there is a couple of guards in charge of keeping public order, holding daggers and shields, followed by some noblemen watching the festivities which usually took place in front of the church.
Left capitals, from outside to inside
4. Left capitals.

1. A couple of wrestlers grasping each other’s arms. One has his foot behind his opponent’s legs, trying to trip him over. They both wear long clothes.
2. Two beast tamers subduing a lion. This is not a scene depicting Samson like many books claim – the two men are part of the itinerant entertainers taking part in the festival.
3. A musician playing a vihuela, an ancient kind of guitar.
4. Two kneeling acrobatic dancers, their legs bent behind them. To the right there is another musician, playing a kind of tuba in the form of a small barrel with a mouth piece.
5. A harpist.
6. A much damaged seated figure.
Right capitals from the inside out
5. Right capitals.

1. A large acanthus leaf, deeply undercut.
2. Two fierce looking combatants, each holding a short dagger and shield. It seems as if one has his foot behind his opponent’s legs trying to trip him over.
3. Two deeply undercut acanthus leaves with two faces wearing diadems appearing on top of leaves, each looking at the scene in front of them.
4. A pair of animal tamers. Two men holding sticks, fighting a lion.
5. Acanthus leaves.
6. Two men reading or singing from the same book.

The two splayed loophole windows of the south wall
The right window is surrounded by an inner archivolt decorated with large acanthus curled at the tips; it rests on capitals with confronted griffons. The outer archivolt is decorated with a narrow floral strip and rests on a continuous impost. The dripstone is concave; it rests on the impost. The left window has an archivolt with incised chevron decoration on the arch. It is surrounded by a concave dripstone. Both the archivolt and dripstone rest on an impost. The capitals have acanthus leaves.
To the right of the door there is a game board engraved into the surface of the stone. The game is known as quirkat which the masons used to play on the stone blocks they sat on and which were eventually incorporated into the wall. There are many such examples found in Spanish churches.

6. Game (quirkat) board.

The nave has a wooden ceiling. The triumphal arch is surrounded by a second arch with three rows of moulding. The capitals are Romanesque but were left unfinished. The square apse was altered at a later date and now has Gothic vaulting. The wood statue of St John dates to the 12th century.
Romanesque Font, early 13th century
7. Christ in Majesty.

The font rests on a platform. It is an inverted cone 120 cm in diameter by 66 cm high. It depicts a seated Christ in Majesty and a row of apostles within an archway. It was obviously carved by a different artist to the one responsible for the church entrance and parts of it do not appear to have been finished – for example, Christ’s left trouser leg is horizontally pleated while the right trouser leg is smooth.

 8. The apostles with St Peter in the centre.

Originally the font was placed on the west side of the church but, due to dampness in that location, it was moved to the apse. This resulted in the font breaking up. From 1989 to 1995 there have been several unsuccessful attempts to consolidate and restore it and remove the nails from the iron girdle around its lip. 
Enciclopedia del Románico en Palencia, Fundación Santa María La Real, Volumen 2, pp.763-772
Románico Guías, Palencia 2006, Fundación Santa María La Real, pp.144-7

Olmos de Ojeda, Palencia
The church of Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos is part of a private estate and is located 750 metres north of the village of Olmos de Ojeda. It is open daily from 09:30 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00. To get to the church take the PP-2131 west out of Aguilar de Campóo for 15.7 km to where it joins the PP-227. Turn south on the PP-227 and after 2.5 km you will reach the church which will be on your right. Its GPS coordinates are 42°43'48.41" North, 4°25'28.65" West and it is at an altitude of 925 metres.
The first written document naming Santa Eufemia as a monastery dates from 946 when the Count of Monzon was the governor of this area. Other monasteries were built in the vicinity and were dependent on, or attached to, Santa Eufemia.
1. West and south façades.

967: There was a monastery here with Egrerio as abbot and with a church named San Justo y Pastor. It was under the protection of the nearby Castel of Ebur which defended the passage to the Pisuerga River and the Liebana mountains.
1011: The churches of San Miguel, San Pedro, San Pablo, San Facundo, and San Primitivo were built on the other side of the Cozuelos River. They were founded by Doña Angela Eilo. The abbot was Beila.
1100: At this time the monastery of Santa Eufemia belonged to Alfonso VI who gave it to the Burgos diocese.
1135: The abbot Pedro Miguel was given the lordship (señorio) of the village of Olmos by Alfonso VII which means that, if there was an abbot, there must have been a monastery.
1186: On the 4th December 1186 Alfonso VIII donated to Don Marino, Bishop of Burgos, the monastery of San Pedro in Cervatos in exchange for the monastery of Santa Eufemia de Cozuelos. The King then ceded the monastery of Santa Eufemia to the Order of the Knights of Santiago. About thirty widows of the Knights of Santiago took it over and it became a nunnery. Doña Sancha Alfonso – the sister of San Fernando III (1230-52), King of Castilla and León – was the abbess at that time. She died in 1270 and was buried here. However, her body was removed in 1608 but her original sarcophagus remains in situ.
1502-28: The nuns were transferred to the Convent de San Pedro de las Dueñas in Toledo and Santa Eufemia was abandoned. This was ordered by the Queen Isabel the Catholic before she died.
1854: The land and the remains of the monastery were sold to Domingo Diaz Bustamente whose family still owns it.
The church is one of the most beautiful and harmonious buildings in the province of Palencia. It was built entirely with good local sandstone ashlars. There is no written evidence for the actual building of the church but its decoration and architecture, especially the apses and transept, show a great similarity with Frómista (1066), the archetype of Palencia Romanesque of the 11th and 12th centuries. However, there seems to have been three phases of construction and workshops involved in the decoration:
·         The first workshop was responsible for the ornamentation of the apses sometime in the mid-12th century.
·         The second workshop, which was connected with the apse of the monastery in Santa María in Aguilar and with the façade of Moarves, was responsible for the transept between 1160 and 1170.
·         The third workshop was formed in San Andres de Arroyo. It finished the church from the west side of the transept to the east wall and built the cloister which has now disappeared. This must have happened after 1200 when the monastery belonged to the Order of Santiago.
The single nave church has a projecting transept surmounted by a square lantern and three round apses, the central one being higher and twice the size of the lateral ones. The apses rest on a plinth. The central one has two stepped buttresses which end at the height of its windows; they appear to have been left unfinished. The lateral apses have one buttress and one unadorned splayed loophole window. Throughout the church the corbels are concave and unadorned.
The three loophole windows of the central apse are framed by arches with roll and concave moulding. The concave part is decorated with balls. Each is surrounded by a billet dripstone resting on billet decorated abaci which extend the width of the apse, crossing over the buttresses. The south window has, on the left, a capital carved with an open-winged eagle, symbol of Christ. The one on the right has acanthus leaves. The capital on the left of the central window has confronted lions, symbol of divinity. The right capital has floral lacework. Both capitals of the north window have superimposed animals.
The square lantern is divided horizontally into sections by two string courses of billet decoration. The central one has a window on each side, facing the cardinal points. The upper sections have a column at each corner.
The south doorway has a pointed arch surrounded by three archivolts. The inner archivolt has chevron decoration. The middle archivolt is beautifully carved with undulating vines – a band of rinceau – which is so lightly and deeply undercut that it resembles embroidery, similar to some capitals found in San Andres del Arroyo. The outer archivolt has a roll and cavetto moulding. The archivolts and arch rest on continuous cavetto abaci decorated with flattened three quarter height arches known as andresinos, a name derived from  the monastery of San Andres del Arroyo where they originated. The left capitals are carved with beautifully executed upright leaves. The right capital rests on the door jamb and has a pair of confronted winged harpies (symbol of passion) wearing Phrygian caps. The other three capitals on the right have leaves. All the capitals and jambs have astragal.
2. South transept and south apse (on the right).

There is another doorway in the south transept which was the original entrance to the church from the cloister. It has a pointed arch resting on jambs. On its right side it has the name of one of its masons, ‘Ioanes’, and on its left the name of another ‘Nicolao me fecit’ (Nicolao made me). Above there is a window with an oculus above it. The south transept window is framed by an arch with cyma recta moulding decorated with balls. It rests on floriated capitals and is surrounded by an arch which has four receding rows of billet decoration.
3. Engraving by the mason, Nicolao (left side of south transept entrance).

The south transept loophole window is framed by two archivolts. The inner arch has roll and concave moulding with ball decorations in the concave part. It rests on floral abaci and capitals carved with leaves. The outer arch has four rows of billet decoration separated by fillet. The dripstone has a double cavetto moulding. There is an oculus above the window.
The bell-cote is on the west façade flanked by two sturdy but graceful buttresses. Below it there is an arch window surrounded by two archivolts with cyma recta moulding resting on floriated capitals, also resembling San Andres del Arroyo.
The wide nave has two rib-vaulted bays. It differs from the Spanish style of the 12th century in that it is typically Cistercian and was obviously influenced by the Cistercian convent of San Andres del Arroyo, 5 km away. The transept has arms that extend beyond the nave and give access to the two lateral apses. The straight presbytery has pointed barrel vaulting. A chancel arch precedes the central apse. The three apses have semi-circular vaulting
4. The nave, looking towards the central apse.

The central apse has two imposts dividing it horizontally into two sections. The upper section sits where the wall and apse meet and is decorated with interlaced palmettes. The lower one has three rows of billet and is at the level of the windows.
The transept is identical to that of Frómista. The circular dome (the celestial abode) rests on four squinches with carvings of the Tetramorph in each corner. There is a window in between each squinch. The drum rests on four chancel pointed double arches with plain voussoirs, each with a historiated capital.
The Capitals
5. Plan of the capitals.

1: Chancel arch, north capital. On the left are two men, one standing on the other’s shoulders. In the centre there is a man with lions above him. On the right side of the capital there are two superimposed lions.
6. Chancel arch, north capital (Capital #1).

2: Chancel arch, south capital. It has five rows of striated flattened caulicles, crossed-over and forming volutes. The same capital can be found on the apse arcade of Cervatos.
3: East transept arch, north capital. Two rows of confronted lions; the upper row has rearing lions and a mask in the upper centre.
7. East transept arch, north capital (Capital #3).

4: East transept arch, south capital. An eagle with wings displayed at each corner of the capital. Above them are two addorsed lions with their heads turned back and looking upwards. Resting on the back of the right lion is another small one.

5: West transept arch, north capital. Four rows of acanthus leaves with their tips turned over. There are four volutes.
6: West transept arch, south capital. Two rows of crocket leaves.
7: Nave north capital. Stylised crocket leaves.
8: Nave south capital. Stylised crocket leaves.
9: North transept arch, east capital: Leaves.
10: North transept arch, west capital. In the centre Samson rides a lion and is prizing open its jaw.  The scene of Samson and the lion symbolises the soul fighting physical passions. On either side of the capital, emerging from each volute, is a diamond-shaped leaf that extends halfway down the capital. On the right, a man stands holding a lion’s tail. On the left, a man stands holding a mace. Below him a boy holds the lion’s mane.
9. North transept arch, west capital (Capital #10).

11: South transept arch, east capital: Large leaves, possibly unfinished.
12: South transept arch, west capital. It has seven rows of superimposed flattened and striated leaves, ending in spirals at the centre and at the corners of the capital (similar to one in Cervatos; to the chancel arch left capital in Olmos de Ojeda, and to a chancel arch of San Cipriano in Revilla de Santullán). Above the leaves, and on either side of the head of a bishop or abbot holding a staff, there are two bearded faces with flowing hair.
10. South transept arch, west capital (Capital #12).

There are several tombs. In the north transept is the sarcophagus of Doña Sancha Alfonso resting on four lions and richly decorated with coats-of-arms. There are also lions couchant with rich manes as well an incised sword of the Order of Santiago. Written on the upper part of the lid is: MCCCVIII D(omi)NA SANCIA A(l)FONSO. In the south transept there is a similar sarcophagus but nameless. Garcia Guinea who researched the archives of the monastery believes it belonged to Don Hernando de los Ríos. There is a tomb stone on the floor opposite the central apse with the writing: …TRMO… de FERNANDEZ. AVE MARIA
The Museum
In the small museum there are some capitals from the convent’s cloisters. One has the three Marys by Christ’s tomb on one side with, on the opposite side, a scene with a corpse surrounded by weepers. On the other two sides there are four bishops. A hand of a thuriferous angel descends over the body. All are placed under tri-lobed arches with a schematic representation of the Heavenly Jerusalem above them, similar to the doorway of Moarves de Ojeda.
Enciclopedia del Románico en Palencia, Fundación Santa María La Real, Volumen 2, pp.791-805 

The monastery of San Andrés de Arroyo is 14 kilometres southwest of Aguilar de Campoó ‘as the crow flies’. Take the A-67 or N-611 south from Aguilar. At Nogales de Pisuerga take the P-223 west. After 3.4 km there is a junction (the P-223 goes to the left) at which you continue straight ahead on the P-222 for 3 km to the monastery. Its GPS coordinates are 42°42'2.87" North, 4°22'50.85" West and it is at an altitude of 925 metres.
The monastery was founded in 1181. Stylistically it was very influential for many of the Romanesque monuments of northern Spain. It has a very spectacular cloister. San Andrés de Arroyo is well worth a visit; however, the nuns do not allow photographs to be taken.
1. Cloister arcade.


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