Church of Santa Marta de Tera

Church of Santa Marta de Tera
Church of Santa Marta de Tera

That the city of Zamora is one of the most outstanding urban centers of the Spanish Romanesque, nobody doubts it, not in vain the city is one of the cities that accumulates the most Romanesque churches. However, this does not mean that in the rest of the province there are few examples of Romanesque. The church that we are analyzing here today is located about thirty kilometers from the town of Benavente, in a small town located on the banks of the Tera River, in Santa Marta de Tera. The homonymous church has its origins linked to the Camino de Santiago, specifically to the Sanabrés branch that the pilgrims who came up from the South of the Peninsula took to save a few kilometres.


Throughout the 10th century the bishops San Genadio and San Frontis participated in the repopulation of the northern territories of Castile promoting the opening of numerous monasteries and this is supposed to be precisely the origin of the first monastery and the one that Today, only its church remains. It was specifically around the year 979 when the monastery of Santa Marta de Tera was mentioned for the first time in documentary sources.

We find ourselves before a temple in which the Asturian and Leonese pre-Romanesque tradition is evident; it is a typically Romanesque church with a Latin cross plan with a single nave and which is divided into three sections. The transept is marked in plan and elevation and the headwall is straightcovered by a barrel vault.

Experts agree that in the construction of the temple there must have been two different construction stages: one of them around the year 1077 where the works of the head and the dome and a second stage, already in the twelfth century. The studies carried out in this regard suggest that either there was some collapse or that the temple was too small for the growing number of parishioners who attended.

Regarding the decoration of the temple, we must speak of a master who shows special skill in the field of sculpture and who can be related to the Silversmiths Workshop who worked in the Cathedral of Santiago or in the Temple of San Martín de Frómista.

Special attention deserves the equinoctial effect that takes place on March 21 and September 23 of each year, when the light of the equinox enters through a small oculus located to the head of the temple and affects a capital that represents the Annunciation.

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