Slightly apart from the main roads, the small town of Añua still preserves the emblazoned palaces and a magnificent church that tell us about its rich past. Since the 14th century, and due to a privilege issued by the King Alphonse XI of Castile, it is part of the municipality of Elburgo. Although today it is not part of the official route of the Way of Saint James, the roads varied over time and this church has traditionally been considered as one of the great milestones for pilgrims. In 1294, chronicles tell us about a contribution of the town of 900 maravedíes to a campaign against the Arabs, a far from inconsiderable amount that informs us about an economically prosperous situation. In that same century, the building of the magnificent octagonal apse of the church started, one of the medieval jewels of the Alavese Plains.
The church of the Nativity of Our Lady
The apse of the church of Añua is one of the richest models of medieval art in the entire Alavese Plains. It is a work from the early 13th century, built at a time of particular interest when the masters that worked on the area started to experiment with Gothic forms that came from France as well as other places of the peninsular kingdoms. Thus, with one foot in the Romanesque tradition and the other in the new construction trends, they built a surprisingly ambitious work for the humble rural context in which it is located. The five wall sections feature a series of blind arcades with columns that highlight the verticality of the building. Besides, some of the walls have beautiful flower-shaped oculi that give the temple a great personality.
The upper cornice presents one of the most interesting collections of corbels in the province. Running along the apse from its south side northwards, we can see grotesque heads and faces of animals and people, monsters, vegetal elements… but, above all, characters like a minstrel with a pointed hat, a stonemason with his tool and a nice couple of exhibitionists stand out.
Inside the temple
The entrance to the building is made through a Gothic door carried out by a workshop different from the one that made the east end. Inside the temple, we perfectly see the extension that was made in the 16th century. Preserving the medieval east end and the chancel, the main body of the nave was raised with two sections covered with good tierceron vaults. The web spandrels are decorated with Renaissance grisaille paintings, in which saints, apostles, evangelists and characters of the Old Testament appear.
Current photographs: © Alava Medieval / Erdi Aroko Araba
Old photographs: Archive of the Historical Territory of Alava