Visiting art historian delivers lecture on architecture

Spanish art historian and coordinator of museum for Romanesque Studies Cesar del Valle Barreda gave a lecture about the monastery of Santa Maria la Real in Wriston Auditorium on Monday, Feb. 11.

He presented the 900-year history of the monastery, and he introduced the architectural style of Santa Maria la Real that is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic art. Santa Maria la Real is a school and a museum now, and the lecture conveyed the activities people do in it today.

The monastery is located in Aguilar de Campoo, a province of Palencia, Spain. It was founded by King García Sánchez III and his wife Doña Estafanía de Foix who commissioned its construction in 1052.

The main compositions at the monastery are the cloister, Church of Santa Maria la Real and the tower bell. On the plan, one could also find the pantry, refectory, sacristy, library, entrance courtyard and parlor.

Romanesque architecture refers to an architectural style of medieval Europe. Combining features of the Roman Empire and Byzantine buildings, Romanesque buildings are known for their massive quality, thick walls, round arches, sturdy pillars, large towers and decorative arcading.

Gothic architecture is a style that was popular in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture. The main features include the use of rib vaults, flying buttresses and stained glass.

The Monastery of Santa Maria la Real is a combination of both architectural styles. It uses rib vaults in the church, chapter room, old bedroom and in the north wing of the cloister. The portal of Santa Maria la Real applies multiple round arches in a symmetric form, and that is a feature symbolizing Romanesque architecture.

The original capitals found in this monastery, the Capital of the Triumphant Christ and Capital of the Victorious Knight, are now reserved in National Archaeological Museum of Madrid.

This monastery was ruined in the early twentieth century and it was renovated for new uses in 1977. It now functions as a high school and a museum as well.

The museum intends to make known the monastery and its history and to promote the Romanesque art. Barreda pointed out three disclosures of cultural heritage: education, emotion and entertainment. People can learn about architectural style and artistic style in terms of education. In addition, the museum also offers many activities including theatrical visits, guided tours at sunset and guided tours of Romanesque art. There are also medieval workshops for schoolchildren. Concerts are held there as well. People can have sports activities through the building like riding bikes. Barreda concluded by expressing his wishes that people could feel the emotion when they walked in this cultural heritage.

This lecture was sponsored by The Chaney Fund. The William A. Chaney Fund for Excellence in History was established in 2010. It enables students to become productive historians through collaboration with departmental faculty. This fund provides support for senior experience projects, trips to archives, researches and other activities that immerse students in the real world of history.