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Cultural Heritage

St. Victorian Monastery

St. Victorian Monastery

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Visita también la página web del Real Monasterio de San Victorián Real Monasterio de San Victorián

Real Monasterio de San Victorián

There is no doubt that St. Victorian's Monastery is a milestone in Sobrarbe County history. According to experts, it is the oldest one in Spain, since it has a Visi-Gothic origin, being built in the 6th century.

The legend tells that St. Victorian was born in Italy in 480. Fleeing from earthly temptations, he arrived at the Pyrenees. After a whole life as a hermit in La Espelunga cave, working wonders, he was appointed Abbot of the former San Martín de Asán Monastery. Later, in the 11th century, the monastery was named after this saint, being known as St. Victorian's Monastery.

It was refurbished during King Ramiro I rule. It was in this monastery where King Ramiro II of Aragon and Ramon de Berenguer IV met in order to decide the marriage between the last one and Petronila, a marriage which was the origin of the Corona de Aragon Kingdom.

St. Victorian's Monastery was protected by kings and Popes, and it was a political, economical and spiritual centre in Sobrarbe for centuries. It also controlled towns in Ribagorza and Somontano counties and also in Valencia.

St. Victorian's is a royal pantheon, where the sepulchres of King Gonzalo I and Iñigo Arista are still preserved.

At the end of the 16th century, the decadence of this monastery begins, as a consequence of the loss of properties, due to church and royal politics, especially with the appearance of the Bishopric of Barbastro. Thus, it gave up ruling more than 50 villages to rule only 20.

In the 17th century, thanks to the help of the king, the monastery and the hospice were restored. During the 18th century, the Abbot is supported by King Philip V in order to rebuild the church, which was decorated with the choir stalls. A lightning and strong winds caused damages in the building, restored thanks to the Marques of Avilés and Marques of Esquilache's help, who convinced King Charles III to donate 60.000 reales.

The Ecclesiastical Confiscation ordered by Mendizabal meant a coup de grâce for the monastery wealth, losing most of its properties. In 1844 it was about to be sold, but the auction was suspended due to the historical value, according to the Royal Decree passed on 25th March 1844. St. Victorian belongs, from then on, to Los Molinos municipality.

The 20th century was extremely ill-fated: it was looted, set on fire and bombed during the Spanish Civil War; a resolution from the Barbastro Bishopric in 1950 took its altarpieces and other artistic works out from the monastery. Therefore, the most valuable goods were moved to the Cathedral and the Episcopal palace in Barbastro, especially a 12th century mitre, the 17th century major altarpiece and the 16th century oil painted tables and canvas, the furniture pieces were shared among near churches; the roof was dismantled and the monastery was definitely in ruins.

In the 1990's, the monastery is partially restored. In 2002, it is declared as part of the Cultural Heritage.

The Church

Built in the 18th century on a former medieval church, with a Latin cross plan, three naves, straight chevet westwards oriented and adjoined chapels.

The stalls at the old low choir are carved in wood, being kept in the Church in Boltaña currently. On both sides of the chevet, we find two vestry rooms. The one on the southern side shelters a crypt for burials. On the south front, a tower with two levels stands up, topped by an octagonal cap.

The cloister has three Roman arches and pointed vaulted galleries. On a lintel, we can find a small 12th century medieval relief, framed by a round moulding.

The southern doorway opens under a Roman arch, framed by two pilasters and a mixed pediment. In the tympanum, we find the Royal coat of arms of King Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese. Plaster relief is preserved in the church, being specially remarkable those moulding depicting King Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese.