San Martín de Gurullés Church
Following the discovery of its foundation stone in 2000, it is now known that this church began its life as a women’s order abbey dating back to 1177. The inscription of the headstone is the third oldest of its kind for a religious temple in Asturias, coming just after San Miguel de Lillo and San Salvador de Valdedios. From the 13th century onward, the abbey became a male order monastery.
This is the best preserved Romanic church in the west-central area of Asturias. The configuration of the exterior volumes and its decorative elements obey a Romanic purist design that coincides with the classical style of that time.
The church has a single nave, a straight section with a groin vault and a sole semicircular apse with a pointed quarter sphere. At the south façade, there is a lengthened portico.
The western façade of the exterior extends out with significant support. It has triple semicircular archivolts without decoration resting on double slender pillars of white stone with vegetal capitals. The structure is finished off with a pentice that covers cantilevers and a bell gable from the 18th century. The semicircular apse presents a hollow for light to enter through looped circles and a cornice with cantilevers.
Despite the loss of original features due to damage and renovations, which sometimes where not very favorable, the interior of the building still preserves elements of exceptional interest. The four columns that support the vault of the presbytery consist of pedestal, stylized shaft and truncated cone shaped capitals with vegetal motifs of summarily size. The only anthropomorphic representation appears on one: a thoughtful man resting his large head between his hands. It offers a typical aesthetic of Romanic plasterwork: disproportional, symmetric, hieratic attitudes and simplistic forms with a final result of the unnatural and with a didactic intention.
The last renovation of the temple, at the beginning of the 21st century, was executed in a very careful manner and is evidence of the desire for the parishioners to respectfully preserve the buildings great patrimony and its place in history.