Monastery Santa María La Real in Aguilar de Campoo
Recovered thanks to Jose María Perez Gonzalez (Peridis)
Monastery Santa María La Real in Aguilar de Campo. Its origin is very old for it was founded in the ninth century. In the 12th century, it was inhabited by the Premonstratensian monks until 1835, when it was abandoned and looted. In 1978, the Association of Friends of the Monastery of Aguilar was in charge of restoring it and putting it to good use. Today, its dependencies house an institute and the headquarters of the Romanesque Studies Center. The church, of the 13th century, consists of three naves and a chevet of three apses. They fully restored the cloister. Of Romanesque style, the first floor has pointed arches that hold on three small supports, double columns with capitals with a thematic variety. The National Archaeological Museum preserves some of its capitals. Finally, see its chapterhouse, a quadrangular space covered with ribbed vaults.
Monastery Santa María La Real Aguilar de Campoo
THE RENAISSANCE OF THE FALLEN CONVENT
Diderot affirmed with vehemence: “The ideas that the ruins awaken in me are great. Everything is destroyed, everything perishes, everything happens. Only the world remains, only time lasts, the world is old and I walk between two eternities. What is my existence compared to these crumbling stones? ” What fascination awakens before our eyes with the vision of a capital ruin, even more if it is fueled by childhood effervescence?
Living toy and real protagonist that animated the readings of the romantic adventures episodes. Children of the city, like José María Pérez Peridis and other people from Aguilar, had grown up playing and fantasizing among its walls. All of them fulfilled their dream and, with the passage of the years, rescued for their town the monastery. Thus, between the greatness that was glimpsed and the mystery of the arcane, the monastery of Santa María la Real was offered to the eyes of the villagers of Aguilar de Campoo in the middle of last century.
As shown by the image worn out by time and before the astonishment of the romantics and their fascination with the rubble of our past, the monastery rises again. A new era rescued a vision different from nostalgia and ambitious to endow the monument with a new and successful life. Characteristic of the youth of a town.
They did not conceive their work following the interpretative dictates of Viollet-le-Duc, nor did they let things be as formulated by the purist John Ruskin. Work was made according to Peridis, the architect responsible for the task of remembering those old times and to give new life to these remains. They inaugurated each newly recovered room with a cultural activity. A new vision that precedes the “open for works” that has been so successful in well-known current interventions. His project was even more ambitious and so, throughout the years, many of his ideas have been carried out. Teaching center, hostel, exhibition center of the Romanesque of the region, summer courses, conference and exhibition halls …. A new life for a reference monument in the cultural revitalization of the area.
EACH RUIN HAS ITS OWN HISTORY
As usual in monastic foundations, its real origins are confused with the legend. The cross and the sword forge their signs of identity, a repeated recipe to achieve perks and patronage. Namely: a Leonese hero with his sword, Bernardo del Carpio, “winner” of Charlemagne himself, buried in the skirts of the Peña Longa, where the foundations of the monastery are born. See also a miraculous Christ with great devotion. This one, more modern, needed the structure of the church to be modified in order to shelter him under a chapel that ennobled his deserved fame.
Premonstratensian Community. Monastery Santa María La Real Aguilar de Campoo
The royal protection offered the Premonstratensian monks and easy road since the late 12th century. This community of monks took over the monastery and gave it its best era of splendor. Due to their known apostolic labor, they ganed the appreciation of their fellow countryman, but the severity of the ecclesiastical confiscations put them in danger of dissolution. The town was on their side, but it was in vain, since in 1835, the definitive explusion takes place. In just a few years, the stone skeleton the monastery had become after the fall of its rooftop was covered in wild vegetation. Diderot, and later, the romantics talked about the divine aesthetical pleasure of ruins. The inexorable passage of time turnes into a natural landscape what was once a solid construction, a convent. Fallen but reborn today, it overcomed a sombre destiny.
PROVINCE OF PALENCIA
The Cerrato Palentino is a wavy territory, crowned by several hills, according to which the area was named. It is an extensive region with more than 1700 square kilometers located in south of Palencia.
The Pisuerga River, its tributaries and streams provide freshness and greenery with its riverside vegetation. Here the ocher tones dominate, allowing one to see among them the green of pines, holm oaks and kermes oaks. Between the hills and crops that dominate the line of the moorland stand out villages we suggest you visit.
ROUTE OF THE INTERIOR CERRATO
This route invites us to visit some of the least known although highly interesting areas of the Cerrato. We begin our tour in the monumental village of Palenzuela. There stand several monuments such as its medieval castle and the magnificent churches of Santa Eulalia and San Juan Bautista. Also we will have a look at the Arco de la Paz, vestige of a gate leading to the town. Moreover, one should visit the San Francisco convent and the Hermitage of Our Lady of Allende the River. From Palenzuela, on another occasion, we can make the Carlos V Route, which includes the villages of Torquemada and Dueñas.
Afterward we leave Palenzuela after crossing the Arlanza River and we cross the 622 national road to Villahán and Tabanera. Arriving to the village of Antigüedad, where after visiting its church of Our Lady of the Assumption, we will take the detour to the entrance of the town heading down towards Espinosa and Cobos to finally get closer to the Hermitage of Our Lady of Garón.
ROUTE OF THE RIBERA DEL PISUERGA
With this route we suggest you, fellow traveler, getting to know the north of the Cerrato. So we begin our trip in Astudillo, where we can enjoy a rich Artistic and Historical set. The Arch of San Martín and the Remains of the Castillo de la Mota (Property of Cultural Interest) are what remains of the old fortified town. We can visit the Monastery of Santa Clara, which is partly built on what used to be the Palace of King Pedro I. Today, an interesting Museum is located there.
In addition, the churches of Santa María, San Pedro and Santa Eugenia are conserved within the town. The Santa Eugenia church has become a large local museum. It displays part of the heritage of the aforementioned temples. One must visit the Cross Hermitage, which treasures the steps of Holy Week and the Hermitage of Torre Marte. Keep on strolling through the streets with emblazoned houses and go up to La Mota to see some wineries.
The river Valdavia crosses the village of the same name. In this area you will find oaks, junipers and various shrubs along with a variety of medicinal and aromatic plants. Wild boars, foxes, wolves, roe deer, coots, herons and ducks are some species that we can find in this area.
Following the course of the Valdivia River, we begin our route in Congosto de Valdavia. To the south of this town is the Dehesa de Tablares, where the Church of the Transfiguration is located. Also, it has an interesting Romanesque main front from the 13th century. In addition, it has two lateral reliefs, one with the Pantocrator and the other with the Calvary. Finally, images of Saints Pedro and Pablo can be seen on the sides of this facade.
We will continue to Puebla de Valdavia, Buenavista de Valdavia, Polvorosa and Renedo de Valdavia in whose church we will see an interesting baptismal font. Then we head towards Arenillas de San Pelayo to see the remains of the church and monastery of Saint Pelayo. Its three apses, the capitals of the toral arch and chapter house are a Romanesque work from the 12th and 13th centuries.
TIERRA DE CAMPOS, LAND OF CHURCHES AND MUSEUMS
The surprises offered by Tierra de Campos Palentina are many and varied. At first sight, it appears to us as an apparently homogeneous geographical space. With a closer look, its landscape, light and volumes are rich in contrasts, fluctuating according to the different seasons.
Here, the sunlight, the blue of the sky, the sunrises and sunsets are unique. Adding to this a great variety of temples, museums, and places of interest, your visit is more than justified. This rich diversity ranges from the great works of art by painters such as Pedro Berruguete, to the beautiful and unique dovecotes, an example of rural architecture in which adobe is the essential element of construction.
There are farmland cereal, fields laden with art, municipalities that deserve a careful and restful visit. Additionally, these lands are abundant in artistic works, most of them guarded inside their temples. There we will find first-order pieces, or as they say colloquially “with names and surnames”. Other temples tell us about the history of each locality.
Of all the styles and times there is something interesting in the Tierra de Campos Palentina. We suggest you take the time to walk through the streets and squares where these monuments and museums are located. For example you can find works made for kings, nobles, bishops, brotherhoods, civil orders. Look for simple signs of the passage of time and popular ethnography and culture while enjoying nature and landscapes.
We begin our tour dedicating a day to Palencia capital. There we can visit the Cathedral and the Cathedral Museum, which constitute a review of History and Art. The museum is installed in the anteroom and chapter house. In the inside we can find Greco’s San Sebastián, works of Mateo Cerezo, Alejo de Vahía, etc. It is completed with a visit to the San Antolín Crypt of the Visigothic and Romanesque era.
We can get to know more about the sacred art of the province without leaving the capital. We can see the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art located in the Episcopal Palace. Here, works around the provincial scope are kept, some of them by authors such as Pedro Berruguete, Juan de Flandes, Felipe Vigarny, Alejo de Vahía, etc. Also with Romanesque stacks, altarpieces, goldsmith’s works, etc.
This experience can be extended with the visit to the Museum of Palencia. Located in the Casa del Cordón, it exhibits different materials found in archaeological excavations carried out throughout the province. Prehistoric materials of the Bronze Age, ceramic objects and Celtiberian goldsmiths; funeral steles, portraits, bronze sculptures, coins and different remains of daily life from Roman times. For example, Visigoth, Romanesque and Gothic remains can be seen in the different rooms of this museum. Visiting the Diaz Caneja Foundation would be a good counterpoint to the Museum of Palencia. There we will learn more about the artistic legacy of this painter.