Cámara Santa

Oviedo, Spain

The Holy chamber of Oviedo (Cámara Santa de Oviedo) is a pre-Romanesque church built next to pre-romanesque Tower of San Miguel of the city's cathedral. Nowadays, the church occupies the angle between the south arm of the cathedral transept and a side of the cloister.

It was built during the 9th century as a palace chapel for King Alfonso II of Asturias and the church of San Salvador of Oviedo. Apart from acting as royal chapel, the Holy Chamber was built to house the jewels and relics of the cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo, a function it continues to have 1200 years later. Some of these jewels were donated by the Kings Alfonso II and Alfonso III, and represent extraordinary gold artifacts of Asturian Pre-Romanesque, brought from Toledo after the fall of the Visigothic kingdom.

Consequently, the cathedral of Oviedo was also called Sancta Ovetensis; owing to quantity and quality of relics contained in the Cámara Santa. The Holy Chamber remains as the only sample of the early medieval complex. It was built as a relics' room to keep the different treasures associated with the Kingdom of Asturias (Cross of the Angels, Victory Cross, Agate box, Arca Santa and Sudarium of Oviedo), brought from Jerusalem to Africa, and after several translations was finally deposited at Oviedo by Alfonso II of Asturias.

It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1998.



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Founded: 9th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

David Carretero (9 months ago)
Nice chamber, the oldest in the cathedral.
Fran Fernández (11 months ago)
Disappointing restoration and "Chinese bazaar" layout of relics. He has asked for the magic of the place
AFR (11 months ago)
It is the oldest part of the cathedral. 9th century
Juanjo Castro Celeiro (14 months ago)
Alfonso II el Casto, who always considered himself a “humble servant of Christ”, had the so-called Holy Chamber built in the 9th century. It consists of two overlapping chapels and without any communication between them. The lower one is the "Crypt of Santa Leocadia" and the upper one is that of San Miguel; name that is given by the fact of being attached to the Tower of San Miguel, a building previous to it and which is one of the few vestiges that remain of the palace of the kings of Asturias. This tower can be seen today from the "Chapel of Our Lord of Covadonga" -at the beginning of the Cathedral's ambulatory- embedded in its walls. In the 12th century, this upper chapel underwent a profound transformation. The original wooden vault, typical of the pre-Romanesque, was replaced by a barrel vault and a series of columns decorated with a Romanesque apostolate was added to it, in order to try to tell us that, as well as the Romanesque apostolate, they support the roof of the chapel, in the same way the apostles –as a liturgical hymn beautifully says- are “columns of the Church”. The pious king, in constructing this building, wished that it would be the place where the holy relics that he had brought from nearby Montsacro were kept. Such relics had arrived in Asturias from Toledo -where they had been transferred "from different places" by the Christians to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Arabs, after the defeat of the Visigoth army in Guadalete. The most notable of all of them is the holy Shroud that corresponds, according to tradition, with the one that was placed on the face of Jesus Christ in the descent of the cross and until his final burial. The contemplation of this holy canvas reminds us that "by his blood we have received redemption, the forgiveness of sins." In this same place the crosses of Los Angeles and Victoria are guarded. It teaches, the first, of the Oviedo Church and the city of Oviedo and the second of the Principality of Asturias. As a result of the many relics that have been kept in this Holy Chamber for a long time, we could almost say, immemorial, the cathedral of Oviedo is called the "Sancta Ovetenesis".
Andres Vol (2 years ago)
Disappointing, I don't know why they put it if between the gate, people with audioguide attached to the gate, how far some things are behind the gate and the little exhibition space, you see nothing. Anyway it will be fine but ... I say it will not be.
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