Its present appearance is the result of the long and controversial reconstruction of a building identified when the elevation preserved was not more than 50% of the original construction. As a result of this fact, it presents unsolvable aspects preventing all the meaning from being extracted from this enigmatic temple. However, it seems certain that the tower located next to the SW angle did not belong to the original project, its construction date remaining unknown.
We have no coetaneous reference allowing us to establish the chronology of this building on solid bases. The only valid data are the paint remains from the intrados wall of the arch when entering the central chapel, with a pattern similar to those preserved in Santullano. This circumstance allows us to propose the 9th century as a date, without excluding a dating of even the beginning of the 10th century, as testified by the survival of the same pictorial tradition in San Salvador de Priesca, consecrated in 921.
It ids made up by a wide and luminous transversal nave, opening up to a rectangular triple header, embedded in a single straight head wall. It is preceded by three-part portico, with simple elevation, whose laterals quarters remain isolated from the nave, only communicating with the central hall. Two rectangular premises appear both on the northerly and southerly sides of the nave, whose function is yet to be clarified given the lack of details on its original open or closed nature. In the first case they would be interpreted as porticos; in the second case they would correspond to the usual lateral quarters of the Asturian basilica kind. Over the central chapel of the header a well-based blind supraapsidal chamber has been reconstructed.
The naves, porticos, lateral quarters and lateral chapels of the header are covered with wooden frames, employing the vault exclusively in the central chapel. This circumstance singles out this building from within the Hispanic High Middle Ages architecture, as the sanctuaries are generally vault-roofed in all the buildings whose elevations have reached our days. Only the central chapel provided data on the presence of an altar in it. The existence of altars in the lateral chapels can be gathered from the presence of traces for the encasing of inner doors before the central and southerly chapels. Rings that were to serve as a hook for lamps and reliquaries were found hanging from the vault of the central chapel, as documented for other High Middle Ages Asturian temples.
Oviedo. Parish of Bendones.
Bus TUA line 3 (stop: San Esteban). Information on: www.tua.es.
Consult the visits: “El Mirador de Bendones” (985 94 23 65).