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turismosobrarbe.comComarca de Sobrarbe

Cultural Heritage

Romanesque Art

The Castle of Samitier




The Castle of Samitier or Castle of Monclús is located on a promontory on the waters of the Mediano Reservoir, making this singular military and religious site one of the most extraordinary landscapes in the province of Alto Aragon. Its strategic position is clear indication of the military function of this fortification. It is made up of the castle (a hexagonal
masonry tower from the beginning of the 11th century) and the Church, which is dedicated to the Saints Emeterio and Celedonio.




The Church, built in the mid-11th century upon request of Ramiro I, between the original frontier of Sobrarbe and the most advanced frontier, is rectangular in shape with three naves and three apses liturgically orientated to the east, with the central one being the main one. The central nave and the one corresponding to the Epistle side are both built on crypts, with the second one being accessible, unlike the central one. Its construction had to level the ground of the church built on a side slope, which would leave so little height for the central crypt that it would be completely impractical. The central and southern naves are divided inside into two sections separated by cruciform columns and barrel rib arches. The northern nave is divided in two by way of a barrel rib arch embedded in the walls. They are all covered with a barrel vault and hemi-cylindrical apses with a vaulted cul-de-four. It is believed that this construction was made between the years 1045 and 1055.




Special mention should be made of the southern crypt with a semicircular apse and an interior vaulted culde- four, which appears as a flat headwall from the outside. The nmistakably defensive character of the church is clearly seen in the position of doors: the interior one is at floor level, whilst the open one in the south wall is high up. This southern crypt was initially divided into four barrel rib arches and vaults which, judging from the angles formed by the arches, aimed to be interlaced. Its construction was carried out around
10 years before the upper naves, between 1035 and 1045.