Santa María de Valdediós Monastery

Villaviciosa, Spain

Monasterio de Santa María de Valdediós is a 13th-century Catholic monastery near Villaviciosa. The Cistercian monastery was founded by Alfonso IX and dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was built by master builder Gualterio between 1218 and 1226, according to an inscription on the northern portal.

Throughout its history, the monastery has had different uses, housing a secondary school and a seminary. After years of neglect, it was once again inhabited by monks until they finally left in 2012.

It was one of the most important and most powerful Cistercian monasteries in Asturias. The founding charter was granted by King Alfonso IX of León and Queen Berengaria in 1200, although construction did not begin until 1218 and lasted until 1226.

It can be said that the church was practically engulfed by other monastic buildings erected in the wake of terrible flooding. The new buildings, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, housed the cloister and different monastic buildings. The 16th century saw the building of the choir gallery, the vestry, the chapter house, the guest house and the abbot's residence. In the 17th century, a vaulted porch was added in front of the west façade and work began to raise the bell gable, completed in the 18th century.

The Latin cross ground plan adjusts to the Benedictine canon with three naves, a high transept and three staggered semi-circular apses, the central one being larger and more pronounced than those on the sides. The naves are separated by pointed Gothic arches resting on cruciform pillars in the nave and semi-circular arches in the aisles. Finely-hewn stone is the material used for the various vaulted ceilings: groin vaulting in the naves and transept, and barrel vaulting and cul-de-four in the apses. The church corresponds to the aesthetic canons of the Cistercian Order: proportion, clarity, clean lines and durability. The aim was to achieve an architectural structure with no ornamentation, making the visual arts secondary in importance, except in specific places such as the capitals, portals or windows, without figurative motifs or narrative cycles that might disturb meditation or prayer.

The interior is illuminated by means of two tiers of splayed archivolts windows.

The main façade has three Romanesque portals, the central, larger one being especially noteworthy, with three ornate semi-circular archivolts with typical zigzag motifs and plant-motif capitals. The tympanum conserves traces of frescoes depicting the image of Our Lady of the Assumption, surrounded by a choir of angels. In the north wing of the transept is the Door of the Dead, where the bodies of dead monks were removed to the monastery.

The cloister has a classical layout and is considered the largest of those existing in Asturias. It has three heights corresponding to different construction stages: the ground floor dates from the 16th century and is closed by semi-circular arches; the second floor is from the 17th century and has three-centred arches, while the top floor, dating from the 18th century, has simple lintels on columns. In the centre of the cloister there is an octagonal fountain and on one side a niche protects a statue of Our Lady of Antigua.



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Villaviciosa, Spain
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Founded: 1200-1226
Category: Religious sites in Spain


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Asunción De Miguel Vázquez (10 months ago)
If you are in the area it is very worth the visit. They give you a very entertaining audio guide with the tickets.
Marisa Garcia Irles (11 months ago)
It forms part of the Valdedios monumental complex together with San Salvador (Asturian pre-Romanesque). The two are visited together. Santa María is a Cistercian Romanesque monastery with a Renaissance cloister. The visit is done with an audio guide, very useful for non-scholars like me. The setting is spectacular, the getaway is highly recommended. It is seen in a couple of hours maximum. It is also a hostel for pilgrims on the Camino.
Jesus M. (12 months ago)
Nice Asturian Pre-Romanesque ensemble. We saw it under a light rain (orbayu, in Asturias) which made it even more beautiful. Entry 6.00eur with audio guide included. The Church and the Monastery are visited. There is a small gift shop. Free parking.
Olga S (14 months ago)
Interesting place. Need to visit with a pre-romanesque church nearby
Quique Casado (2 years ago)
Scaffolded right now. From November or December 2022 it will be devoid of them and the conventín will once again show itself majestic. In the monastery, if you are lucky with the tourists and there are few, the atmosphere is incredibly calm inside the cloister. The audio guides adequately fulfill their function.
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