Monastery of Santa Maria de Meira

Monastery of Santa Maria de Meira
Monastery of Santa Maria de Meira

At other times we have talked about a medieval style, the Cistercian art, on horseback of the Romanesque and the gothic, and that occurred in various places in Europe. Especially in France, where the Claravalle Abbey originated, the seed of this order. And also in Spain, where examples of monasteries can be seen throughout the north of the country.


Meira Monastery

Another of these samples can be found in Galicia, in the Monasterio de Santa María de Meira in the province of Lugo. Actually, of the original monastery, today only the church remains, but it is enough to be able to appreciate the general characteristics of Cistercian art. Especially in its earliest phase and close to the Romanesque forms. And we are talking about a construction from the middle of the 12th century, although there are reports that there was already a Benedictine monastery on this same site beforehand.

Of the Cistercian style the sobriety of its forms stands out especially. There is hardly any decoration in this type of architecture, since the same principles that the monks followed in their daily lives are followed. Which were governed by the motto “ora et labora”, pray and work.

Thus when entering the church we immediately get an idea of ​​the nakedness of the stone and the architectural structures. It is a church with three naves, of thewhich the central one is covered with a slightly pointed half-barrel vault. While the roof on the sides is the groin vault.

The naves are separated by pointed former arches, which is another symptom of the Romanesque-Gothic fusion posed by the Cistercian style. As is the case with the pillars where they rest, to which columns are attached for those formers and also for the ribs of the vaults of the naves.

The same idea of ​​sobriety, of absolute austerity, inspires the façade of the church. A facade that, as usual in other Galician temples, is at a right angle to the monastery as a whole.

This façade is articulated in three bodies of vertical development, which obviously coincide with the internal naves. And of course its difference in height is manifested, since the central part of the façade is higher, and there appears the element that gives the whole the most attractiveness. A large rose window, which although not a marvel of decoration, enlivens the façade. Although it is true that it was conceived above all as something functional, since that is where the church should have been bathed in natural light.

And under the rose window is the flared doorway with several archivolts. And what is perhaps the most valuable of the whole: the original old wooden gate, which still has the ironwork from centuries ago. A jewel of medieval craftsmanship.

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