Basilica of San Vicente, Ávila

Basilica of San Vicente, Ávila
Basilica of San Vicente, Ávila

Throughout history we have been able to verify how the restorations carried out on some works of art, especially in the field of architecture, have been rather disastrous for the work itself than beneficial, since it was It was common for the primitive structure of the building to be altered according to the taste of the restorer. A good example of this is the well-known church of San Martín de Frómista, in which its current appearance has more to do with a subjective interpretation than with what the church itself really was and, in all, is still being studied as one of the the main examples of Spanish Romanesque. The work we are analyzing here is one of the best examples in which the restoration has been completely respectful of the building and the Romanesque style, the Basilica of San Vicente in Ávila.

The story goes back to the year 306 when three brothers, Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta were martyred by Diocletian for refusing to admit that they had worshiped Roman gods. Their bodies were buried under a large rock and according to legend, the perpetrator of their massacre repented and built the first temple to honor these saints. His remains did not rest definitively in Ávila until years later, since with the invasion of the Muslims the area was not considered safe.


The current church dates from 1130 although its construction lasted a few more years in time and it was notfinished until the fourteenth century. It seems that the author of this set was the maestro Giral Fruchel,who also worked in the Cathedral of Zamora and in the Church of La Magdalena in the same city and is also considered, as the introducer of the Gothic style in Spain. The building is built in sandstone extracted from the area that is called caleña and has a particular yellow and reddish coloration. It is a building with a Latin cross floor plan with three naves topped by semicircular apses and a marked transept in plan and height. At the foot it has two unfinished towers and under the main altar chapel there is a crypt.

As for the sculptural decoration, the most outstanding is the western doorway, so much so, that on many occasions it has been compared to the very Portico of Glory of the The Cathedral of Santiago of Compostela. It consists of five archivolts topped by an eaves of human figures in strange postures. In the tympanum there are scenes of the resurrection of Saint Lazarus and in the mullion an image of Jesus Christ.

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