It might seem that the term pre-Romanesque defines a period that is still incomplete, prior to the hegemonic Romanesque; however, it actually refers to the brilliant final stage of traditions that go back to paleochristian art, that stem from the classical world and that demonstrate Asturias’ participation in the European cultural avant-garde of the Early Middle Ages. We possess works dated between the 8th and 10th centuries that attest to the development of the Kingdom of Asturias, comparable to that of the Byzantine or Carolingian courts, but also of small monastic communities, demonstrating an intellectual wealth whose artistic legacy we now appreciate. These promoters had the backing of expert artists, with great technical mastery and symbolic capacity, integrating sculpture and painting or safeguarding the delicate goldwork.
It is considered to be the most complete and homogeneous ensemble of late medieval architecture in Western Europe, geographically concentrated and exceptionally well preserved in its original state, factors that make it unique. It was developed at the height of the splendour of the emirate of Cordoba and transcended its time, influencing later European architecture.
Not surprisingly, back in 1985 Unesco added several of these works to its World Heritage list, extending the list in 1998 to the six ninth-century Asturian monuments that enjoy this status today. In addition to these, there are other outstanding constructions and works of art to be discovered in various municipalities.
In Oviedo / Uviéu we can find several of the most emblematic and rich architectural elements of this architecture; Holy Chamber, San Julián de los Prados, San Miguel de Lillo, Santa María del Naranco and La Foncalada.
Other buildings are also within the Xacobea route such as Santa Cristina de Lena or Santiago de Gobiendes, configuring their own and characteristic style.