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The Romanesque Art along the Route to Santiago

The development of the Romanesque art, the first international style in the Middle Ages, took place after the consolidation of the Route, in the 11 and 12 C. The cultural interchanges derived from the pilgrimage caused the extension of this artistic movement, with its local variants, all over Europe. The Route to Santiago brought about many changes in the Medieval society that also contributed to the extension of the Romanesque: the strengthening of European kingdoms, the increase of the population, and the extension of trade. 

Religious orders, such as the Cluny Order, also played its part in the flowering of this style. The increasing number of parishioners brought about the construction of churches, more elaborated and carefully planned. The old constructions with roofs made of wood were replaced by majestical monuments.

But Romanesque architecture not only produced churches. The surge of pilgrims -along with the workers who built temples, and the merchants that filled the Route with their stalls- favoured the development of a civil architecture that complemented the religious one. These civil constructions included hostelries, hospitals, bridges and houses to give shelter to the crowds of people on their way to Santiago. The Medieval cities were established gradually, and on its centre rose a Romanesque church with its cupolas and apses.

The main feature of the Romanesque architecture is simplicity, the purity of lines and shapes. In Spain disappeared the prevailing eclecticism that combined Byzantine details with local, paleochristian and Germanic influences. However some local components continued to be cultivated, such as the fajón arch. Some Romanesque churches also show a Mudéjar influence.

The Romanesque temple is characterised by the latin cross ground plan; three naves (the central is higher and wider than the side naves); a transept with a tower (cupola) that limits the central nave on one of its ends; and a semicircular chancel, occupied by the high altar. Depending on the size of the construction, the transept arms can contain chapels.

l templo románico se caracteriza además por la utilización de la planta de cruz latina; tres naves (la central, mayor en altura y anchura que la laterales); un crucero con una torre (cimborrio) que limita un extremo de la nave central, y una cabecera semicircular donde se sitúa el altar mayor. A veces, según el tamaño de la construcción, los brazos del crucero albergaban capillas semicirculares llamadas absidiolos.

The temples were orientated towards Jerusalem; the chancels were built on the east façade, and the entrance, directly opposite, on the west side. This façade was richly decorated with mouldings, columns and capitals where scenes from the Bible were carved.