You’re looking at one of the examples of Romanesque architecture best preserved in Spain. This Collegiate, built in the year 1063, is more than a set of semi-circular arches and sheaves of columns acting as ornaments.
Julio Pérez Llamazares, who was abbot of this building in the crazy 20’s of the last century, dedicated his time writing its History, he tells us how the Asturias and León kings, after defeating the Muslims on the battlefield, tried to defeat them again by a war of symbols.
For this, they began by bringing relics of Christian saints… but of course, the relics needed to have a building according to its importance. And that’s how this Colegiata of San Isidoro was built.
The first remains to arrive were those of Saint Pelagius, who had been executed in Cordoba around the year 925, at the age of only 13, because he refused to deny his Christian faith while he was kept as a hostage in the caliphate. They also brought, they say, the real jaw of Saint John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus Christ himself.
And finally, they brought the body of Saint Isidore, who had been writing in the ancient city of Hispalis, in Seville, the first book about the Spanish History, after the Goths had finished with the few Romans that were left around Hispania.
Such accumulation of relics in this building you are looking at, was to try and leave a clear message to the Muslims: ¨our faith is more powerful than yours¨. In the end, almost five hundred years later, that is how it happened, when the descendants of the king Sancho I el Gordo (the fat) entered Granada. But that’s another story…
The story of this building is that it was made with the sole purpose of housing holy relics… which value, apart from their own, marked the quality of the building that housed them.
For that matter, do not forget to take a look at the Royal Pantheon, San Isidoro’s Museum, the Collegiate library and the Oriental and Biblical museum that you will find in here.
An impressive building that, for sure, is a must see!