Art and Mystery on the Saint Jacques's Way: Palentina Mountain, San Salvador de Cantamuda

Juan Carlos Menendez @juancar347July 2019 · 5 min read


I have a very special memory of this church of San Salvador that, according to some experts (1), has characteristic reminiscences of that Asturian school located beyond the natural border formed by the impressive Picos de Europa.
Indeed, located 14 kilometers from Cervera de Pisuerga, once left behind the Requejada reservoir, and approximately 30 kilometers from Potes, this temple, with a Latin cross plan and three small apses, combines the perfection with the mountain environment in which it is located.

Balance, measure and proportion combine in harmony to enhance an aesthetic that, at first, forget the details to be enveloped by the magic underlying the whole.

It was more or less in this way, wrapped, as I say, in a cluster of sensory circumstances, and while I was photographing the abscess area, if I remember correctly, I observed how a person who had not seen in my life approached, and he called me by the name with which I sign all my tickets: juancar347.

The person in question-a friend of Barcelona-observer, I have no doubt, I had recognized by the photo I have in my blog of Soria, and it was a real pleasure-I confess, with the dose of vanity that corresponds to me- To know that the places and the personal experiences described in the most dean of my blogs, had served for something.

But there was still more, because our Catalan friend also knew the blogs of the friends that we composed the group (Health and Romanesque / Romanesque Labyrinth) who, I imagine that with identical and pleasant surprise that mine, will keep a pleasant memory of this meeting.

So unexpectedly, the visit began to a place we know, among other things, that it was founded in 1123 and declared an Asset of Cultural Interest 870 years later, in 1993. A place through which it passed, anonymously as usual, but masterly, one of those mysterious guilds that, in the most absolute secrecy, left their personal imprint on some of the exterior blocks of the temple: the leg of goose.

And not only the leg of goose, symbol esoteric and emblematic where they exist, but also, using the inexhaustible resources of that little less than dream language that underlies every symbol, left some references to an ancient wisdom, carved in the interior capitals , as, for example, the figures of two bulls.

The bull, another possible ancestral representation of Tradition and Knowledge, that reminds us of the mythological figure of the Minotaur, associated, at the same time, with another form very used by les compagnons: the labyrinth.

This interesting and at the same time enigmatic symbol, we find it again, as a decorative model, in a stone sarcophagus located in one of the side chapels. But there is still more, because if we consider the figure of the bull we mentioned before-remember that all, or almost all the cultures that populated the Iberian Peninsula gave him a cult, say, special enough to survive to this day, even As the indisputable protagonist of the well-or-so-called national holiday-no less interesting is, on the other hand, the presence of another figure of particular relevance: the dog or the wolf.

Both one and the other - it is true that sometimes it is not easy to identify them, although the ears can give a clue - are usually associated, not only to stonemason's guilds, but also to sacred figures highly venerated by the people, whose lives, in the end, they constitute a real mystery. Take, for example, San Roque and perhaps a less venerated, but very enigmatic figure, known as Santa Quiteria.

In this respect, and because of the size with which they were carved into the stone, the canid representations located on the front of the church of San Miguel, in Olcoz, Navarra -gemela, are more interesting, from the cover of Santa María de Eunate-, as well as that one that is located at the entrance of the Santa Quiteria crypt, in the Huesca castle of Loarre.

Now, apart from the knots and interlacing, of certain Celtic origin, they are also located -both in capitals and in one of the exceptional bases that serve as support to the altar- those abundant, curious and controversial figures that, commonly known as men Green, allude, with probability, to that primordial state of man before the Fall, which recalls, in the words of the writer Mircea Eliade, the myth of the eternal return.

Special mention deserves, too, that figure -probably Gothic- that represents the Savior, with the fingers of one hand pointing to the sky -or what would imply its divine origin- and the other hand carrying a typical object of the Romance Marian figures: sphere. This concept that, applied to the Earth, was considered heretical until relatively modern ages.

Aesthetics and symbolism, primordial characteristics of this temple of San Salvador de Cantamuda, whose visit I recommend to all lovers of Romanesque and Art in general.

Notes, References and Bibliography:

(1) Julio César Izquierdo Pascua, 'Romanesque Routes in the Province of Palencia, Castilla Ediciones, 2001, page 167.


NOTICE: Originally published in my blog ROMÁNICA, ENIGMAS DEL ROMÁNICO ESPAÑOL. Both the text and the photographs that accompany it are my exclusive intellectual property. The original entry, where you can check the authorship of juancar347, can be found at the following address:

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Original content by @juancar347

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[Martial, latin poet]

Ars vtinam more Animvm qve effingere. Posses pulchrior in ter. Ris nvlla tabella foret.
Arte Ojala pudieras representar. el carácter y el espíritu. No habría sobre la tierra. Imagen más bella

mariposas-1 (1).jpg

@Tximeleta tiene nuevos retos.
Toca la imagen y participa.
Diviértete y disfruta.


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What a great post I love old churches like this and thanks for sharing all the wonderful detail shots

and isn't that so cool when someone calls you by your Online or photography name and knows your photos :)


Thank you very much. I believe that these anecdotes, deep down, come to demonstrate that old saying that the world is a handkerchief. Fortunately, Spain is a country that, in spite of everything, still conserves a rich historical-artistic heritage that I think is worth getting to know. It is an authentic legacy that is part of us, our peoples, our culture, our traditions. For many years I have traveled, losing myself in God's ways. Years I've been able to enjoy seeing these wonders. And the most important thing: meeting people and making friends. Because deep down, that's what it's all about, too. Cordial greetings


I only visited a couple of areas in Spain but loved it there especially for the historical buildings and more so for the respect for history which is so clearly visible there


Spain has an interesting historical and artistic wealth. Fortunately, since a few years ago, there are more and more people interested in getting to know it, and this is also useful for official bodies to undertake care and restoration measures. I hope the next time you come to visit us, you can see some of this cultural richness.


It is great when I country is making strides to preserve and restore its historic sights, Sadly i will not be visiting there again, I do not fly anymore these days


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Thank-you very much


Cantamuda? Pero los mudos no pueden cantar!!!!


Ja, ja eso es lo que tú te crees. Antiguamente había muchos 'milagros' y de ellos derivaban muchos nombres de pueblos y ciudades


Ohhh I love that see through bell tower!
Very atmospheric shots overall...


Remind me that when you come to Spain, I show you some of these places, to see what impression you make. A hug