Visigothic art and architecture

Visigoths remains in the Crypt of San Antolín of the cathedral of Palencia, Spain

The Visigoths entered Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal) in 415 and they rose to be the dominant people there until the Umayyad conquest of Hispania of 711 brought their kingdom to an end.

This period in Iberian art is dominated by their style. Visigothic art is generally considered in the English-speaking world to be a strain of Migration art, while the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking worlds generally classify it as Pre-Romanesque.

Branches of Visigothic art include their architecture, crafts (especially jewellery), and their script.

Visigothic architecture[edit]

The only remaining examples of Visigothic architecture from the 6th century are the church of San Cugat del Vallés in Barcelona, the hermitage and church of Santa Maria de Lara in Burgos, Saint Frutuoso Chapel in Braga, the church of São Gião in Nazaré and the few remnants of the church at Cabeza de Griego in Cuenca. However, their style developed over the next centuries, though the prime remaining examples of it are mostly rural and often run-down. Some of the characteristics of their architecture are:

  • Generally basilican in layout, sometimes a Greek cross plan or, more rarely, a combination of the two. The spaces are highly compartmentalised.
  • Horseshoe arches without keystones.
  • A rectangular, exterior apse.
  • Use of columns and pillars with Corinthian capitals of unique design.
  • Barrel vaults with cupolas at the crosses.
  • Frequent use of marble as material.[1]
  • Walls of ashlar blocks, occasionally alternating with Roman brickwork.
  • Decoration commonly of animal or plant motifs.

Examples include:

The Pre-Romanesque church of San Pedro de la Nave in San Pedro de la Nave-Almendra, province of Zamora, Spain was formerly regarded as an exemplar of Visigothic architecture, but current thinking as to the date of the building suggests that it is better described as Mozarabic or Repoblación. A similar redating has been suggested for the Church of San Juan Bautista in Baños de Cerrato, province of Palencia, Spain.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Domingo Magaña, J. A. (2015). "The use of marble in Hispanic Visigothic architectural decoration". The Use of Marble in Hispanic Visigothic Architectural Decoration: 527–535.
  2. ^ a b c González-García, Antonio César; Belmonte, Juan Antonio (2015-07-01). "The Orientation of Pre-Romanesque Churches in the Iberian Peninsula". Nexus Network Journal. 17 (2): 353–377. doi:10.1007/s00004-014-0231-7. ISSN 1522-4600. S2CID 253593505.
  3. ^ Sánchez-Pardo, José C.; Blanco-Rotea, Rebeca; Sanjurjo-Sánchez, Jorge (August 2017). "The church of Santa Comba de Bande and early medieval Iberian architecture: new chronological results". Antiquity. 91 (358): 1011–1026. doi:10.15184/aqy.2017.83. ISSN 0003-598X. S2CID 164322469.
  4. ^ "Group of Mozarabic buildings on the Iberian Peninsula". Retrieved 2019-06-15.

External links[edit]