The Romanesque of the Llanada
The Llanada has one of the highest concentrations of Romanesque buildings in all of Europe. Its eastern part has 14 remains per 100km2, which corresponds to the density of 1 church for every 7 km2. In other words, at every step, almost in every village, we come across Romanesque elements of all kinds. Sometimes a remaining simple window or a doorway from the reforms of the modern era can be spotted. Besides, temples preserve parts of their original structure, such as Estibaliz or the hermitage of Ayala.
In this section, we have made a small selection of the churches that seemed most representative of the Romanesque of the Llanada. Thereby, in a small space we can discover from simple and picturesque hermitages such as that of Saint John of Arrarain to famous places of our Romanesque style such as the Basilica of Armentia.
Digitally opened churches
Located on the Zadorra’s riverbanks just 7 km away from Vitoria-Gasteiz, the town of Lopidana preserves a surprising temple with Romanesque origin: the parochial church of Our Lady of Purification. Besides, the church keeps inside an ensemble of high quality vaults that show the successive innovations incorporated into the medieval architecture.
Betoño’s council is almost integrated in the urban fabric of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the city to which it belongs. Saint Stephen church maintains its medieval past with the façade and other Modern Ages elements from several modifications.
Located inside the neighbourhood of San Martin, and fully integrated in the urban fabric of Vitoria-Gasteiz, this medieval hermitage is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. Even though it has been into many modifications through history, it still preserves its medieval structure, and an outstanding painting ensemble.
Saint Stephen’s church was built in the end of the 12th century. It underwent important modifications and high-quality renovations. However, the current simple temple houses one of the richest Romanesque façades from Alava.
From Vitoria-Gasteiz to the council of Lasarte there is a pleasant walk that can be done on foot or by bicycle. Once there, we come across an imposing church that announces that we are in a town full of history. Although most of the building is from the 16th century, it preserves some of the most impressive Romanesque remains in the province of Alava.
Legarda is a town near Vitoria-Gasteiz located at the foot of the port of Arrato. In addition to its unusual Romanesque tower, the church of Saint Andrew preserves, partially hidden, one of the most important medieval paintings in Álava
Located on a small hill near Argómaniz, the church of Saint Peter of Quilchano, despite its apparent modesty and simplicity, is a great example of how Romanesque churches have adapted over the centuries, reaching surprising solutions.
Romanesque style in Alava is varied and original in its forms, creating a huge number of typologies and solutions. The Hueto Abajo case perfectly exemplifies this spirit, as it presents one of the few polygonal headwaters in the province with a surprising sculptural and architectural quality.
The area of Los Huetos has been an inhabited place since ancient times due to its strategic location near the most frequented traffic routes. The most outstanding element of this church is without a doubt the baptismal font, one of the most outstanding jewels of medieval art in Alava.
In the small town of Alaitza you will find one of the most surprising churches in the Basque Country. From the outside what we can see is a simple Romanesque temple with a semicircular apse with two naves and a porch. However, the true wealth is found within, as it contains an extensive and rich program of medieval painting that has become an enigma that is difficult to answer.
The apse of the church of Añua is one of the richest examples of medieval art that we have in the entire Llanada Alavesa. But it is also a temple that was reformed in modern times with contributions of great artistic quality.
Oreitia is geographically located in the western Alavese Plains, ten kilometres away from the capital, Vitoria-Gasteiz. As the vast majority of the small towns that are scattered across this region, its history starts in the first medieval centuries and, at the same time, the history of its church also begins.
Saint John of Amamio is a beautiful Romanesque hermitage of the 12th century that dominates the landscape from above. This would cause certain maintenance problems to the building throughout its history. This small hermitage is usually set as one of the most eloquent examples of what a church of a small village would be like in the Romanesque centuries in Álava, since, as it was abandoned a few centuries after its creation, there were no major renovations or remodellings that would vary its appearance too much.
The basilica of Saint Prudencio and Saint Andrew of Armentia, see of the cult to the patron saint in Alava San Prudencio, is located on the outskirts of the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz. It was built as a collegiate church during the 12th century, but when its neighbouring town became more important, Armentia went into decline. Its worst moment was during the 18th century, when the basilica lost the cloister and other spaces from the ensemble.
On the outskirts of the town of Elburgo, between crop fields, we find Saint John’s hermitage. This building is the only standing remnant that testifies the existence of an ancient small village, named Arrarain, that prospered in the area until the 14th century, when it was abandoned.
Ezkerekotxa is a village located in the heart of the Alavese Plains and crossed by the Camino de Santiago. In the church of Saint Romanus we find a good summary of all the different historical periods that the population has gone through.
On the edge of the Camino de Santiago in Álava while passing through Gazeo is the church of Saint Martin of Tours. Its advocation of Xacobean resonances reminds us of the thousands of pilgrims who have contemplated its walls over the centuries.
Just a kilometre from Alegría-Dulantzi stands the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Ayala, one of the best-preserved Romanesque temples in the Alavese Plains. Find out the details of its corbels and the paintings inside.