Path of the Rural Romanesque of Guadalajara
The foothills of Sierra de Pela, in the extreme northwest of the Serranías of Guadalajara, are concealed among moors, ravines and isolated locations of tremendous and rugged rocky escarpments, one of the most extraordinary monumental samples of the historical-artistic heritage not only of Guadalajara but of all Castilla-La Mancha.
It is a group of singular mountain constructions characterized by their harmony, simplicity, originality and a peculiar Mudejar impression.
There are the churches of Santa Coloma, in the proximity of Albendiego, San Bartolomé, in Campisábalos and San Pedro, in Villacadima. These are three magnificent gems of Romanesque expressionism of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. It is known as the Rural Romanesque of Guadalajara, one of the most beautiful architectural examples of medieval Castilian art.
Together with these spectacular mountain corners, we find the medieval village of Atienza, one of the most beautiful walled enclosures in Spanish geography, where we are again surprised to see its awe-inspiring display of Romanesque temples and museums with unique pieces.
A bit further away, and as the final point of our thrilling journey through these highlands, the most elevated and northern regions of the Province of Guadalajara, with an average altitude of over 1,000 meters, we encounter, in the middle of a high plain, the small hamlet of Carabias, where the amazing and splendid arcaded atrium of its secluded Church of San Salvador, a Romanesque gem of the early thirteenth century, stands out.
This is a small and thrilling tour through an exclusive sample of the Rural Romanesque of Guadalajara, the one knowns as the “art of the repopulation”, an exquisite “bouquet” of the beautiful and singular churches of this medieval art
that are part of a long and extensive catalog of Romanesque buildings spread throughout the region of the Serranías of Guadalajara, possible to name some as significant as the churches of Romanillos de Atienza, Hijes, Pinilla de Jadraque, Bustares, Riofrío del Llano, Jodra del Pinar and Sauca, among many others…
We stand before a real architectural treasure before which a visitor will be dazzled by the harmony of its sizes and the fantastic imagination seen in the sculpted stone. Recollection, harmony, beauty, history, time, solemnity, terror, joy and fears all converge in the beauty of the Romanesque churches, nestled in very beautiful places smelling of damp earth and sweet smoke, silent places, surrounded by a nature of which they seem to form a part.
On the outskirts of the town, on a small path, there stands the Church of Santa Coloma, a genuine example of the Rural Romanesque and one of the most important monumental gems of the cultural heritage of Guadalajara.
In the apse there are three tall windows whose apertures are occupied by magnificent Mudejar latticework with geometric fretwork of Jewish inspiration, a genuine ornamental treasure of the Castilian Romanesque.
The next stop is Campisábalos, at more than 1,400 meters in altitude, where you can admire the Church of San Bartolomé, and its annex the Chapel of San Galindo, a splendid group of rural Romanesque art.
The temple is attached to the Chapel of Knight San Galindo, attached to the south wall, which is actually another small Romanesque church where you can see a complete “mensario” with a depiction of the agricultural labors in the months of the year.
Finally, in Villacadima, the visitor will discover the Church of San Pedro Apóstol, in the center of town, another beautiful prototype of the Romanesque of the late twelfth century, with a vaulted doorway in which its four archivolts stand out.
You can discover the Church of San Bartolome in the lower part of the town, built in the first half of the thirteenth century. It has a magnificent porticoed gallery with arches. The Museum of Religious and Paleontological Art occupies the entire temple, which offers a large repertoire of religious works of art and one of the best and most important paleontological collections in Europe.
Another extraordinary and singular example of the Romanesque is the Church of San Gil. Its interior houses the Museum of Sacred Art, with important works of art from all eras. Next to the wall we find the Church of the Santísima Trinidad, with its attractive Romanesque apse from the end of the 12th century. The spectacular carving of the Cristo del Perdón by Luis Salvador Carmona from the 18th century stands out in the Museum of Sacred Art. Finally, next to the high cliff of the castle we discover the Church of Santa María del Rey, the oldest temple from those preserved in Atienza, since its origins date from the beginning of the 12th century, a construction supported by King Alfonso I – The Battler. The most outstanding feature at the noon entrance door, very late Proto-Gothic, is the truly surprising sculptural profusion of its arches, of enormous beauty and grandeur.
The Church of San Salvador constitutes an extraordinary Romanesque example of the early thirteenth century. Its splendid arched porch with beautiful double columns with campaniform capitals decorated with austere and elegant plant motifs is amazing, very much in keeping with the Cistercian style prevailing at the time.