Quintanilla de las Viñas
Relief of “the Sun”. Quintanilla de las Viñas hermitage.

Arrival of Visigoths implied no important rupture with Roman architecture. It is easy to understand: architectural level got in old Empire is much better than the one of invasors. Changes could be seen after many years of social and religious evolution.
From the fall of Roman Empire until the first Visigothic kingdom created in Peninsula -king Gesaleico year 507-, design and building were the same as Roman ones. Only in 6th century, because of disappearance of arrianism and institution of christianism, new ways of construction could be seen. They followed old models but there was a new esthetic and functionalism. Nothing of this first phase of Visigothic architecture remains nowadays, not even in his capital, Toledo. No rest has survived.
But 7th Century does show a new way of constructing that we call Visogothic or rather Hispanovisigothic architecture, since it only exists in Peninsular area. Buildings that came to our days in a satisfactiry state are few. Moslem conquest from year 711 -battle of Guadalete- destroyed an important part of churchs, specially in visigothic cities -Toledo, Tarragone and Cordoba -, leaving rare samples in rural zones, since they were less important buildings in its age.
There are different influences on this kind of architecture: Roman, paleochristian and even Byzantine.
Arco hispano-visigodo
Horseshoe arch visighotic (Presione para ampliar)
Common features would be:
  • The use of ashlar blocks -perfectly worked-, built “at bones” -with no mortar- with the technique of “rope and brand”: i.e. few bricks are perpendicular to the most part in order to create stability. In this way irregular rows with different levels are often seen. Seldom, bricks.
  • Use of horseshoe arch with special features:
    • Extension of the curve 1/3 of its radius.
    • Line of extrados falls vertically on the projecting, it is not parallel to intrados.
    • It has no key voussoir: double voussoir is used.
    • Origin of this arch is uncertain. Some scholars talk of it as an original creation of Visigoths; others think about an oriental influence.
  • Capitals on columns or pillars are “inverted trunk pyramidal” or from very schematic corinthian order.
  • Very divided plans, in form of cross, enclosed by a rectangle or in many varied styles -basilical, shape of greek cross, combinations- and flat heads.
  • Wooden covers or barrel vaults -edge with an elevated head, made by the cut of four vertical plans, parallel two by two-. For crossings they used groin vault or dome.
  • Very thick walls with narrow windows to support heavy domes.
  • Sculptorical decoration of capitals and friezes is based on repetition of geometrical elements; also flowers, animales and sometimes human representations. Carving is beveled. There is no exent sculpture.
We can point out to the next constructions:
Santa Lucia del Trampal
  • Church of Saint Lucia of Trampal in Cáceres.

  • Santa Lucia del Trampal
  • Church of Saint Comba of Bande, in Saint Comba of Bande, Ourense.
    It was built at the middle of 7th Century on the bank of Limia river, devoted to Saint Comba.
  • Santa Lucia del Trampal
  • Church of Saint John of Banos, in Banos de Cerrato, Palencia.
    History tells that king Recesvint founded in year 611 Monastery of Saint John the Baptist.
  • Santa Lucia del Trampal
  • Hermitage of Quintanilla de las Vinas, in Quintanilla de las Vinas, Burgos.
    It only remains a part of the church: the head and the transept.
  • San Pedro de la Nave
  • Church of Saint Peter of the Nave in El Campillo, Zamora.
    From the end of 7th or beginning of 8th Century, it is one of the most outstanding churchs in Visgothic architecture.
  • San Pedro de la Mata
  • Church of Saint Peter of La Mata, in San Pedro de la Mata, Toledo. It was built at the middle of 7th Century as a church for a Monastery.
    Ruinous state of this church let us give limited features of it.
  • Santa María de Melque
  • Church of Saint Mary of Melque in San Martín de Montalban, Toledo.
    Difficult to date and classify, this ermitage has been seen as a Visigothic or Mozarabic one by different studies and different scholars.