Oviedo Cathedral

Oviedo, Spain

The Cathedral of San Salvador of Oviedo today displays an array of architectural styles, from Pre-Romanesque to Baroque, including Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance parts. It began as a large Pre-Romanesque basilica in the present location of the Gothic cathedral, but nothing more is known about that first building, built by order of King Alfonso II of Asturias.

The cathedral was founded by King Fruela I of Asturias in 781 AD, and enlarged in 802 by his son Alfonso II of Asturias, who made Oviedo the capital of Kingdom of Asturias, and resided in Oviedo with his court. The present edifice was begun by Bishop Gutierre of Toledo in 1388, and the tower added by Cardinal Francisco Mendoza de Bobadilla in 1528.

During the Late Middle Ages, Oviedo Cathedral underwent major changes, becoming the most important architectural workshop of Asturias: between ca. 1300–1550, the old pre-Romanesque basilica, as well as its presumed Romanesque premises, were demolished and replaced by a set of classic and flamboyant Gothic elements, including the chapter room, the cloister, the main chapel and the aisles, as well as the western facade and tower. The chapter room was probably built between 1293-1314: it is the cathedral's oldest Gothic structure, a diaphanous, square-plan hall covered by an eight-sided dome, under which several noble lineages decided to build their burials. The Gothic cloister was already a work in progress around 1300, although it wasn't finished until the mid-15th century. It's a rectangular space surrounded by galleries, whose tracery windows reflect the evolution of the Gothic style, from early classic to late flamboyant.

Oviedo Cathedral's magnificent tower was finished in 1551. In 1575, lightning destroyed the original pierced spire, which was rebuilt by Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón combining Gothic and Renaissance elements. The main chapel's altarpiece, which combines statuary and paintings in a gilded, wooden frame, is an excellent example of the transition from Late Gothic to Renaissance.

During the Early Modern period, Oviedo Cathedral received new additions, including the ambulatory (designed by Juan de Naveda and built in the first years of the 17th century), as well as the sacristy and several Baroque side chapels (Capilla de Santa Bárbara, Capilla de los Vigiles, Capilla de Santa Eulalia de Mérida). In the 18th century, the adjacent church of Santa María del Rey Casto—an old, pre-Romanesque basilica built by king Alfonso II as a funerary pantheon for the Asturian monarchy—was torn down and replaced by a new, late Baroque chapel with exuberant decoration. The Early Modern period also saw the furnishing of the cathedral with several altarpieces.

The chief feature of the cathedral is the 'Camara Santa', with its venerable relics. Bishop Pelagius relates that the Agate Box, a coffer made by the disciples of the Apostles and containing the most precious relics of the Holy City, was taken from Jerusalem to Africa, and after residing in several locations was finally placed at Oviedo by Alfonso II. In the 16th century, Bishop Cristóbal de Sandoval y Rojas wished to open it, but could not, being overcome with religious fear.

Oviedo Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias.



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Founded: 781 AD
Category: Religious sites in Spain


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ayesha Visser (2 years ago)
30 cents Always better to find a toilet than no toilet at all... went here twice. First time there was no toiletpaper and the faucet did not work. Second time I found paper but the faucet and handblower still did not function. It smelled too, of toilet ? It would be nice to get the basics at least when paying for the toilet...
Vladimir Titin (2 years ago)
Cathedral with a mixture of styles, from pre-Roman, Gothic to Baroque. Built in the 13th century and finished in the 16th on the remains of temples from the 9th century. Very interesting to visit because of the history it contains, as well as the importance of the first pilgrimages it received. I recommend a guided tour to understand its greatness. Curious to see a single tower since the city's money ran out in a great fire on December 24, 1521.
CK D (2 years ago)
€7 to go inside when Spanish government give funding to the Church? Shameful
Mikaella Bodeux (2 years ago)
Beautiful architecture with interesting exhibits - the tour itself was limited by the fact that many artifacts had no description and audio had to be used. As a result, you cannot move through the museum at your own pace.
Carlos Bracero (2 years ago)
An amazing cathedral with tons of history. I have visited Oviedo several times for a group research about the Spanish Civil War (specifically the Siege of Oviedo). The tour is only a few euros and you can request for an English audio guide. It is self-guided but definitely worth the price. There are countless artifacts, images, and paintings of religious, historical, and cultural value. The cathedral is surrounded by many local bars and restaurants that make it a must-see. Across from the Cathedral is a building with bullet holes from the Siege.
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