The palace complex formed by the church of Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo, pre-Romanesque architectural monuments, sits on the slopes of Mount Naranco, close to the capital of the Principality of Asturias and former capital of the Asturian kingdom, Oviedo. Ramiro I was a young king of the Asturian monarchy who had a brief but intense reign between 842 and 850. In addition to facing internal rebellions, Norman attacks and Muslim incursions, it is necessary to add his driving spirit of art and construction, this has made him go down in history as a promoter of Asturian pre-Romanesque art which is known as Ramirense art and that his mark has remained for posterity in the monuments of Mount Naranco.
In the middle of the 9th century, Ramiro I ordered that on the southern slope of the mountain, where there was a rich hunting ground, a recreational palace complex be built with a royal pavilion, a palatine church and its relevant service pavilions. From this royal complex and fortunately, for our admiration, the church or royal chapel, San Miguel de Lillo, and the royal pavilion or palace, which according to chronicles, around the year 857 was converted into a church under the invocation of the Virgin Mary, becoming known as Santa María del Naranco.
The architectural structure of Santa María served as a reference for later Romanesque constructions. The building has a rectangular floor plan and is divided into two floors, a lower one or crypt that can be accessed directly from the outside, it is completely closed with transversal arches that divide it into five sections, the central nave is covered, almost flush with the ground, by a low stone bench on which the wall seems to rest, the side rooms have the same dimensions and are in the same situation as the viewpoints on the upper floor being the only areas that are not vaulted and their decks are made of wood, one of them houses inside a deep pool and to enter the other we must do so through a small door located outside.
The upper floor is reached by a staircase located on the north side, is a single room with balconies on both sides and mullioned windows. The interior, with a barrel vault, is supported by fajones arches resting on a wall that repeats the exterior decoration of pilasters decorated with medallions topped with human and animal figures. The viewpoints are accessed through a triple arch, in the viewpoint located to the east is the current altar of consecration that is a copy of the original, which is preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Oviedo and belonged to the church of San Miguel de Lillo.
This church is located about two hundred metres from that of Santa María, its dedication, which has been confirmed since 908, links the temple with the cult of the archangel San Miguel, who was present in the Iberian Peninsula since the end of the 7th century. The building we are contemplating today corresponds to approximately a third of the original building. The church collapsed partly due to a landslide during the Middle Ages, today stands the primitive portico and one of the sections of the original nave, are preserved four of the original lattices of the monument, originally had a basilical plan of three ships the walls were decorated with mural paintings, at the foot of the main nave on the old portico is a tribune or choir, it climbs up a hole decorated by pilasters of marble, with narrow stone stairs. On the outside, some stones on the ground mark the contour that the primitive church may have had.
Religious acts continue to be held in these buildings and on occasions indicated. Thus, in Santa Maria takes place the annual feast in honor of the apostle Santiago with procession of the image from the Monastery and the feast of St. Michael can not miss every September 29 in San Miguel de Lillo. The parishioners of Santa María del Naranco, with all the right, can request to receive the sacraments in the Monuments. Eucharists are also celebrated on the occasion of the marriage anniversaries of those who were married in these sacred buildings.
On the altar, which stands on a table made of ashlar stone and at the bottom of which there is a cavity to store any relics, there is an inscription that resembles a penitential prayer, the translation of which reads: Christ, son of God, who entered the womb of the Virgin Mary without human conception and came out without corruption; who through your servant Ramiro, glorious prince with the queen spouse Paterna renewed this dwelling consumed by the great antiquity, and through them you built this altar of blessing to the glorious Holy Mary in this high place; hear them from your dwelling in heaven and forgive their sins. That thou livest and reigns for ever and ever, amen. Ninth day of the July kalendas of the era 886 (June 23, 848).
According to the text "Ordo Visigothorum", when the king marched to war with his armies, in the palatine classroom a court ritual of exaltation was celebrated to the military campaigns with marked religious character and it is said that this was one of the functions to which the palatine classroom of Santa Maria del Naranco was destined. In this ceremony, the king and the bishop entered the lower floor of the classroom, where the prelate immersed the king in the swimming pool filled, for such an event, with holy water, to receive the liturgical bath. Then a white tunic was put on him and they went up to the upper floor where the mantle was placed, he was anointed and the labarum was given to him, formed by an Asturian-type cross with the ends of the wider arms and that he had to carry in battle, presiding over the armies. The bishop then blessed the noble knights from the opening of the chapel on the upper floor. Finally the king went out to one of the viewpoints to receive the acclaim of the people.
Oviedo is connected by the A-66 and the N-630 with Mieres and León on one side and with the A-8, Cantábrico dual carriageway, and Gijón on the other. Oviedo is also reached by the N-634, which crosses Asturias inland, from Luarca on the west coast to Ribadesella on the east. Also in the bus station of Oviedo we find a great number of different lines that communicate it with the different localities of the Principality of Asturias, as well as with the main capitals of Spain. Oviedo also has a central train station that extends the different lines of communication with the localities of the autonomous community. And its airport offers direct flights to European and Spanish capitals.
We must head towards Mount Naranco to the northeast of the city, at the foot of which is the Church of Santa Maria del Naranco. The access will be found following the street Ramiro I, to which we will arrive by the street of the Lieutenant Colonel Teijeiro, from the near station of train Uría, in the avda. Foundation Prince of Asturias that coincidentally is located in part next to the route that followed the N-634 to its step by Oviedo. Also the line 10 and the 3 of the urban buses cover the route from Oviedo to the visitors' reception centre.
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