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

Sam (10 months ago)
Astonishing gothic cathedral with one of the most beautiful cloisters I’ve ever seen. It’s worth the 7€ entry and the free audio guide is absolutely recommended.
Josefina Riesco (10 months ago)
Not big, yet beautiful cathedral
María Eugenia Robles (16 months ago)
Amazing place. You have to pay to enter but in some times it's free
Alejandro García Castro (17 months ago)
Beautiful gothic Cathedral. It's a must go in Oviedo. For sure. The fee is around 7 € and it worths it.
Federico Price (2 years ago)
Beautiful cathedral full of fascinating architectural details and well worth spending time inside contemplating the detail. Sadly, the 7 euro entry fee is a bit steep and off putting, but at least one imagines that the money goes to help preserving this magnificent and historic cathedral church.
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