San Salvador of Valdediós

Valdediós, Villaviciosa cradle of Cistercian

In the surroundings, the inheritance is unique: oakwoods, chestnut trees and heathers, all of them mixed together over the meadows and cultivated soils.

The valley is the most frequently chosen place to enjoy nature and relax, but even more so, if one wants to Take a walk through all the ages of man.

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The monumental enclosure is located in the valley of Valdediós, next to the town of San Pedro de Ambás, in Villaviciosa. In 1985 it was awarded the declaration of Humanity Inheritance given by the UNESCO.

Close to the enclosure, several prehistoric and later romanic ruins were discovered. Its living splendor was during the Middle Ages, in the 9th century, when Alfonso III ordered the construction of San Salvador's temple, and then later on, in the 13th century, the Cister monks decided to build the monastery. Over centuries of expansion, the decline began as a result of many disagreements. Then, the monastery was going to be occupied for different duties, which produces a change in its physiognomy on the one hand, but on the other hand it prevented the damage that was subsequently exposed to.

In the 80's the workshop-school got hold of the enclosure with a double aim in mind: to recover the old craftsmanship, linked to the Restoration period and, at the same time, to bring back the splendor of the past time.

San Salvador of Valdediós, commonly known as The Coventín was founded by Alfonso III and consecrated by the year 893 with the presence of six bishops.

From the start, the construction became a sacred enclosure, and the aim was the celebration of the cult. The existence of what is called Royal Portico and the platform make sure that Alfonso III may have been part of the cult.

This temple dealing with the Asturian Preromanic, has a kind of basilica floor with its marvellous vaults and its capitals, carefully carved with the typical ornaments belonging to the last stage of the Asturian style. This temple also keeps important original paintings from the 18th century and others from later periods.

But Valdediós is not the church of San Salvador, it is a large space where through many centuries is now the result of many architectural movements. The Cistercience monastery of Valdediós has existed since the year 1200, when the king Alfonso IX and his wife Doña Berenguela granted a Foundational Letter, in Santiago de Compostela, giving priviledges and territories to the new Cister monastery.

This last one was built using "white stone of special size", this shows the ascetic spirit, and also the use of the sobriety is a result of the architectural style marked by: simplicity, sobriety and proportion. From the 13th century the church had been suffering from fires and floods that eventually caused the destruction of the ancient enclosures.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the growth of the enclosure does not stop, with the creation of the stables, part of the lodge and the abacial house. The monastic dependencies were enlarged along the 18th and 19th centuries. Then, the Cloister is finished, a new chapter room and last, three baroque altars. This show the constant change and the improvement of the fittings.

Nowadays, the historical monument is opened for the people's admiration. Most of the people visiting this place find in it the spiritual calmness of this ancient island in the middle of contemporary times.

Text: © Ramón Molleda for

coordinates Latitude: 43.4380264 Length: -5.5071545


How to get there?
The AS-113 between the towns of Villaviciosa and Sariego is what brings us to the monument area. In the village of San Pedro de Ambas there is a detour that leads to the heart of the valley.

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