The Cathedral of San Salvador de Oviedo is located in the center of the historic center of the Asturian capital, in the place where King Alfonso II the Chaste (791-842) promoted the construction of several palatine and ecclesiastical buildings as a result of the transfer to this city of the capital of your monarchy.
As it has come to our days, Oviedo’s cathedral is a Gothic temple, built between the 14th and 16th centuries, built on previous pre-Romanesque buildings (of which the Holy Chamber survives) and Romanesque, and to which new ones were later added. elements, especially in the baroque period.
Outside the cathedral, the cathedral complex is dominated by the only Gothic tower located at one end of the portico (conceived as a loggia), at the foot of the naves, and which, with its height of 80 meters, dominates the profile of the ancient city ovetense.
The cathedral has a total length, including the portico and ambulatory, of 84.55 meters, and its width, at the height of the transept, is 47.80 m. The temple has a Latin cross plan, with three naves, the central one being wider and taller (67 m long, 20 m high and 10 m wide, compared to the 6 m wide side naves). The central nave ends, after a previous straight section, in the only apse that has survived to this day, presided over by the monumental late Gothic altarpiece. The lateral apses gave way in the XV II century to the mouth with the ambulatory then open. The transept is very marked in plan and height,
In the baroque centuries, different chapels were opened, enriching the plan of the complex. Among them are those dedicated to Santa Eulalia, Santa Bárbara and the so-called chapels of Los Vigiles and Santa María del Rey Casto (on an old pre-Romanesque temple and at whose feet stands the pantheon of the Asturian kings).
The set is completed with the Gothic cloister, from which you can access the chapter house, and which on its upper floor houses the Museum of the Church of Asturias.
The Holy Chamber, the great reliquary of the cathedral, dates from the pre-Romanesque period (9th century), located next to the old tower built at that time for its defense.
The Cathedral of San Salvador de Oviedo is located at the connection point of three routes of the Camino de Santiago. It is the point of origin of the Camino Primitivo, since according to tradition, as soon as he heard the news of the discovery of the apostle’s tomb in Compostela, King Alfonso II left his palace in Oviedo (of which today the Holy Chamber is preserved, including in the cathedral complex) to honor the tomb of Santiago. Likewise, the cathedral is the destination point of the Camino del Salvador, the detour from the French road that allowed pilgrims to deviate from that route in León to cross the Cantabrian mountain range and visit the relics preserved in the Oviedo cathedral. Finally, San Salvador de Oviedo also has a branch that starts from the coastal road in Villaviciosa.
There are historical news alluding to the passage of pilgrims through the cathedral of Oviedo from very early times. Thus, in 1075 King Alfonso VI visited the relics of the Holy Chamber and disclosed their wealth and variety (highlighting the Holy Ark with the Holy Shroud and the crosses of the Asturian monarchy), thus fostering the desire of many pilgrims visiting the Oviedo temple, which came to be considered the second most important pilgrimage site in Spain only behind Santiago de Compostela.
The Cathedral of Oviedo has had its own jubilee since 1438, known as that of the Holy Cross, granted annually (and not only in Holy Years as in the case of Compostela). In this way, all pilgrims who visit the cathedral between September 14 and 21 gain full indulgence (the so-called Forgiveness).
Inside the cathedral there are a series of places that every pilgrim should visit. In the first place, there is the Holy Chamber, the main reliquary of the Spanish church and testimony of the first construction period of the complex, in pre-Romanesque times. In medieval and later times, access to the Holy Chamber was through the so-called Puerta de la Perdonanza, in the south transept, ascending from there through the interior of the San Miguel tower to the upper floor of the Chamber. Numerous graffiti of ancient pilgrims survive on the walls of these stairs, thus leaving testimony of their passage through San Salvador.
Another essential rite of every self-respecting pilgrim is the prayer before the image of San Salvador, a large stone sculpture from the 12th century located today at the point of confluence of the main chapel and the southern access of the Girola. Before this image the pilgrims prostrated themselves for centuries, and there are even songs alluding to it, in the case of the famous French woman who points out that “Whoever goes to Santiago and not to the Savior, visits the servant and leaves the Lord.”
The Jacobean tour of the Oviedo cathedral continued with the visit to such important relics as the Santa Hidria, a jar that is said to have been present in the biblical episode of the wedding at Cana, and which is now preserved in a niche in the North transept. .