Santa Maria Piasca

Santa Maria Piasca
Santa Maria Piasca

The church of Santa María de Piasca is located in the well-known Valle de Liébana, in the autonomous community of Cantabria, Spain, and although a priori this area does not seem to stand out for its architectural heritage, it is true that its proximity to the Camino de Santiago would make it a very prominent place of transit at the time, in addition, the influence of the different pre-Romanesque styles such as Asturian or Castilian converged in the Liébana Valley to give rise to careful constructions that have arrived in good condition until our days.

The first written notices we have about the church are dated in the 10th century, around the year 930 AD, however it seems that the monastic complex of which this church was part was prior to this date, and Its origin must be sought in the repopulation attempts that were carried out during the first years of the reconquest. Thus, the origin of the church was linked to that of a monastery of some importance in the area that, although for some time it housed a mixed community, in the 11th century it was segregated into two monasteries, with only the monks remaining in Piasca.


Notwithstanding the entire monastic complex -which during its time had to be expanded on several occasions- hardly any remains remain, except for the church of the complex, which today is one of the most outstanding Romanesque monuments of the Cantabrian community. The church of Santa Maria de la Real dePiasca is a small Romanesque temple built in stone that is configured as a church of small proportions and dark, typical of the Romanesque aesthetic. In the temple we find three naves, with the central one wider and higher than the lateral ones to allow the lighting of the interior and configured in four different sections. The transept is not marked on the ground plan, since its walls do not extend beyond the aisles, although it is marked in height.

Originally the head of the temple was tripartite, semicircular on the outside and polygonal on the inside, however today we only find two of the three chapels since the one on the left was replaced by a quadrangular sacristy. The roofs have ribbed vaults both in the lateral naves and in the transept space, this is due to one of the remodelings of Gothic origin that were carried out later.

Special attention is paid to the front doors of the temple, with multiple structural and decorative elements; In the decoration, religious iconography and plant and geometric elements stand out. The access to the temple is decorated with a semicircular arch and flared archivolts in which we can see animal heads, leaves and bouquets… the supports of the archivolts are different and while three of them rest in one of the corners of the wall, the two others do it on columns whose capitals are very worn.

The Piasca complex was declared a National Monument in July1930.

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