Tourism in Palencia, Spain: a trip through the Romanesque North (II)

Palencia has the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in the world. Today we visit with you the monuments of Villavega de Aguilar, Cillamayor and Matalbaniega

We continue our series of articles dedicated to the Romanesque in Palencia. After visiting the temples of Aguilar de Campo, Becerril del Carpio and Mave, we will continue touring the magnificent monuments of Romanesque North in Palencia. And this land has the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in the world, which are kept in a good condition.

Today we follow another of the routes proposed by the book Las mejores rutas por el Románico de Palencia (The Best Routes through the Romanesque of Palencia), written by Carlos M. Martin Jiménez, which visits the towns of Villavega de Aguilar, Cillamayor and Matalbaniega, all belonging to the city of Aguilar de Campoo.

#1 – Church of Santa María La Real in Villavega de Aguilar

In Villavega de Aguilar we find an example of late Romanesque, with elements of a Gothic which began to emerge in the early Thirteenth century. At first we can admire its door, decorated with architrave and four archivolts and zigzag moldings in their interior arches. The capitals are decorated with animals and plant motifs.

Another element in which we will stop is the apse, with a wide range of ornamental resources, highlighting the scenes of animals and a bear hunting.

#2 – Church of Santa María La Real in Cillamayor

Santa María La Real Church, in Cillamayor, has been disrupted by construction elements added later, but it still keeps interesting elements of Romanesque.

Built in the early Twelfth century, with added Cistercian components in the end of that century, in the temple of Cillamayor highlight the windows of the apse, decorated with threads of simple and capitals garnished with palm leaves. It is also interesting the ornamentation of the capitals of the triumphal arch, in one of which there are three rows of overlapping lions and an eagle with outspread wings.

#3 – Church of San Martín in Matalbaniega

We come to one of the most important temples in the Romanesque of Palencia: St. Martín, in Matalbaniega, which was built in the middle of the Twelfth century. Everything indicates that this church was actually a monastic complex with outbuildings that have disappeared.

In Matalbaniega we can admire the capitals with double and overlapping structure, garnished with human and animal representations. But certainly we will take attention to the cantilevers: more than 70 different ones, such as the musicians, the woman whose breasts are bitten by snakes, fabulous animals, spheres, geometric figures…

The opinion of our expert: Cristina Párbole
Historian. Director of “La Huella Románica”

The three churches selected in this route are usually unnoticed for our visitors, but they are spectacular examples of the beauty of our Romanesque.

In the church of Villavega de Aguilar, is curious the presence of a “glouton”: a monstrous head engulfing the shaft of the column.

In Cillamayor, we must emphasize its baptismal font with the inscription “Pedro de Cilla me fizo” (Pedro of Cilla made me), his labyrinthine truss and the mysterious figure who accompanies him.

The collection of cantilevers of the church of Matalbaniega is one of the most completes: no less than 70 figures decorated the cornice of the temple.

Undoubtedly, thousands of details make it unique our Romanesque, they often go unnoticed, but this jewelry is the true essence of the Romanesque North style in Palencia.

My recommendation: to get lost to meet a legacy still undiscovered

FOTOS (Matalbaniega y Cillamayor):