Photograph: Guillermo Maestro CasadoPhotograph: Guillermo Maestro Casado


Name of Monument:

Church of San Tirso

Location:

Plaza de San Tirso, s/n, Sahagún, Leon, Spain

Date of Monument:

First half of the 12th century

Period / Dynasty

Mudéjar

Description:

The church is located very near to the ruins of the Monastery of San Benito in Sahagún. It has Romanesque stone foundations supporting a brick structure, and there were difficulties fitting the shapes of the two materials together: blind arches with brick mouldings and material of different proportions.
It has a basilical layout with three naves separated by two large semi-circular arches of different sizes. These are the result of alterations that transformed the physiognomy of the interior, although the outer shape remained unchanged. Previously, the naves were separated by five semi-circular arches beneath two pairs of frames separated by a small pilaster. The inner walls of the naves were altered continually until the construction of the north door and the arcade in 1897. The fourth section of the church is the transept, which does not protrude on the outside and is slightly wider than the naves. It is made up of horseshoe arches that give it a structure similar to pre-Romanesque iconostases (screens separating sanctuary from nave on which icons were placed). The supports are bent pillars rising from a large cylindrical base. The sanctuary is the most original part of the church, although the left-side chapel (Gospel) is a 20th-century reconstruction. The central apse rests on the Romanesque structure. The solid ashlar wall sits on columns whose drums follow the pattern of the ashlars. Neither the apse nor the supports were finished according to the Romanesque design. Pilasters and double-voussoir semi-circular arches were subsequently added to the columns. These pilasters are of interest as it was this model that later spread towards the Douro River. Their structure is cubic, but they are twice stepped using scotia brickwork up to the wall, and supported on the existing structure. The upper half of the apse has a uniform brickwork design. The arch/frame decoration is repeated modularly nine times and finishes with eaves formed by a double scotia moulding.
The tower is situated on a straight section of the central chapel. It is prismatic, rectangular and solid but with numerous apertures. It is 4.70 m high and 2.80 m wide, and the walls are 0.50 m thick. The first volume is compact. In the second, four apertures form twin windows supported on Romanesque columns. The third is surrounded by a row of six arches on the larger sides and four on the smaller sides. Finally, there is a fourth volume consisting of semi-circular brickwork arched apertures beneath the eaves. The use of the modular arch/frame combination used in the church is reflected in the north wall of the San Mancio chapel, also in Sahagún. Its early construction places the building in the 'pre-Classical' period, this term being used with reference to the generic divisions established to identify different styles. The church has recently been restored.

View Short Description

Churches constructed at this time were built in a Romanesque style with stone ashlars. The foundations of this church follow this pattern, but it was finished in brick, as this was cheaper and more widely available than stone in this area. The use of brick is combined with a typically Mudéjar building technique, joining walls with blind arches to support the weight of wooden roofs, which were lighter than Romanesque stone vaults.

How Monument was dated:

The church is mentioned in two documents: the first is from 1123 and the second is a deed of donation from Doña Sancha, sister of Emperor Alfonso VII (1126–57) to the nearby Monastery of San Pedro de las Dueñas, dated 1126.

Selected bibliography:

Gómez Moreno, M., Catálogo Monumental de España: Provincia de León, Madrid, 1925; facsimile edition: León, 1979, p.350.
Lavado Paradinas, P., “Iglesia de San Tirso”, El Arte Mudéjar. La Estética Islámica en el Arte Cristiano, Madrid, 2000, pp.179–80.
López Guzmán, R., Arquitectura Mudéjar: Del Sincretismo Medieval a las Alternativas Hispanoamericanas, Madrid, 2000, pp.190–1.
Valdés Fernández, M., Arquitectura Mudéjar en León y Castilla, León, 1981, pp.121–6.
Valdés Fernández, M., “Arte de los Siglos XII al XV y Cultura Mudéjar”, in Historia del Arte de Castilla y León, Vol. IV, Arte Mudéjar, Valladolid, 1994, pp.60–2.
Mudéjar Art: Islamic Aesthetics in Christian Art, pp.179–80.

Citation of this web page:

Ángela Franco "Church of San Tirso" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;es;Mon01;28;en

Prepared by: Ángela FrancoÁngela Franco

Ángela Franco es Jefa del Departamento de Antigüedades Medievales en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional.
Obtuvo el Grado de Doctor por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid con la tesis Escultura gótica en León y provincia, premiada y publicada parcialmente (Madrid, 1976; reed. León, 1998); y la Diplomatura en Paleografía y Archivística por la Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica, con la tesis L'Archivio paleografico italiano: indici dei manoscritti, publicada en castellano (Madrid, 1985). Becas de investigación: beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1974-75); beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1975-77); beca de la Fundación Juan March de Madrid (1978).
Tiene en su haber 202 publicaciones, fundamentalmente sobre arte medieval cristiano, en especial la iconografía: Crucifijo gótico doloroso, Doble Credo, Danzas de la Muerte, temática bíblica en relación con la liturgia (el Génesis y el Éxodo en relación con la vigilia Pascual) o con el teatro (Secundum legem debet mori, sobre el “pozo de Moisés” de la cartuja de Dijon). Es autora de cuatro catálogos monográficos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional, entre ellos el de Dedales islámicos (Madrid, 1993), y de publicaciones sobre escultura gótica y pintura en la catedral de León y sobre escultura gótica en Ávila, así como de numerosas fichas para catálogos de exposiciones.
Ha participado en innumerables congresos nacionales e internacionales, presentando ponencias y mesas redondas, y ha dirigido cursos y ciclos de conferencias. Es Secretaria de Publicaciones en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional desde 1989.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 32

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