Monastery of San Juan de la Peña (Botaya, Huesca)

Built between the late 10th century and the early 12th century, this religious complex looks like it was carved out from the adjacent Pano mountain. Some of its most ancient rooms include the council room and the lower church, featuring Moorish-influenced Mozarabic decorations typical of those parts of Spain that had been occupied by the Moors. In the 11th century the complex became part of the Benedictine Order and was the first Catholic structure to offer Latin Mass in the whole of Spain.

Monastery of San Salvador de Leyre (Yesa, Navarra)

Located amidst the Picos mountains, this 9th-century structure was built along one of the routes that leads to Santiago, the one coming from the towns of Berdún and Jaca. During the 10th century, when Arab Caliph Abderramán III organized a raid against the local kingdom of Pamplona, many civilians from the area found refuge in this monastery. The main church was consecrated In 1057 and features two very important pieces of Romanesque architecture: the sanctuary and the Western façade, which are separated by a large nave in Gothic style.

Loarre Castle (Huesca)

This fairy-tale like castle is the most ancient and best preserved religious and military complex of Spain. Construction started in the 11th century; its expansion continued for the following two centuries. Each of its sections is an architectural treasure trove: on the main floor we find the church of San Pedro with an annex crypt containing arches and columns decorated according to Spanish Romanesque style. On the upper floor we find two impressive towers, the “tower of Homenaje” (literally “tower of the tribute”) and the “tower of the Queen,” with a private chapel dedicated to St. Mary of Valverde. If you get a “déjà vu” feeling while looking at this picture is because this majestic castle was featured in blockbuster movies such as The Name of the Rose (1986) and The Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

Cathedral of San Pedro (Jaca, Huesca)

Built at the end of the 11th century by order of local King Sancho Ramirez, this cathedral was the first Romanesque church ever constructed in Aragon, then an autonomous community in northeast Spain. Originally designed according to Romanesque style, it was heavily modified throughout the following centuries so its Romanesque elements, such as a three-nave structure, are mostly visible in the interior of the church rather than in its exterior facade. Many of the church interior structures such as columns and walls were richly decorated with elaborate bas-reliefs illustrating scenes from the Bible, local fantasy tales and daily life.

Church of St. Mary Royal of Sangüesa (Navarra)

The complex of St. Mary was built in 1052, when the town of Sanguesa became an important stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago by King García Sánchez III of Navarre. Originally, It featured a bridge built in Romanesque style that could connect the town with the opposite side of the Aragon river, allowing for easier passage for pilgrims. The southern gate is one of the best expressions of medieval architecture from the Navarra region, featuring a lower door with barred vaults and a upper door with double arches. The church was designated as a National Monument in 1889.

Basilica of St. Isidoro (León)

Built in the 10th century in the location of a former Roman temple, the complex of St. Isidoro has been considered as one of the best preserved Spanish Romanesque buildings in the region. The royal Pantheon, home to the remains of the Kings of León, currently holds one of the most important collections of Romanesque paintings in the whole of Spain. The basilica features some classic elements of Romanesque architecture, such as a carved tympanum -- a semicircular wall usually built over a gate or entrance -- decorated with bas-reliefs depicting the sacrifice of Abraham. And while it has had later additions including Gothic elements, it still presents as a well-balanced Romanesque structure.

Church of St. Mary of Eunate (Muruzábal, Navarra)

Located near the town of Muruzábal, a few miles before the Queen’s bridge (Puente de la Reina) that connects the Aragon and Navarra paths of the Santiago trail, this imposing structure was probably built in the 12th century by monks affiliated with the Templar Order. Both interior and exterior were constructed according to Romanesque architectural style, except that the floor plan is an incomplete octagonal shape with one corner leading to an annex surrounded by set of richly decorated columns.

Monastery of St. Martín de Frómista (Palencia)

Founded by the Countess of Castile, Dona Mayor, in 1066, the monastery of St. Martin de Fromista was considered one of the “purest” symbols of Romanesque architecture in the whole Palencia region. Unfortunately, most of the original structure was not preserved, but the distinctive elements of Romanesque architecture can still be spotted in the main church, with its three-nave structure and 50 capitals with ornamentation similar to the ones seen in other important Romanesque buildings along the Camino, such as San Pedro of Jaca and the Basilica of Santiago of Compostela.  

Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos)

Named after the shepherd turned Benedectine monk Dominic of Silos, who later became a saint, this Abbey conjures up elements of both early and late Romanesque style. Early Romanesque can be detected in the cloister, the oldest surviving part of the original structure, surrounded by lanes of semicircular arches with twisted columns. The second floor of the Abbey displays elements of late Romanesque, such as capitals decorated with bas-reliefs of biblical scenes like the Ascension and Pentecost.

Collegiate church of St. Juliana de Santillana del Mar (Cantabria)

Built between the 12th and 13th century, this monastic complex dedicated to St. Juliana, a martyr from what is now Turkey, displays some of the typical features of Romanesque style: a three-nave plant with semicircular apse and a series of capitals decorated with a variety of floral motifs. The main facade features a fresco of Christ Pantocrator, a typical image of Byzantine iconography, and as well as a depiction of St. Juliana herself.

Church of La Vera Cruz (Segovia)

It is said that the Church of Vera Cruz was built in 1208 by Templar knights in order to keep a fragment of the Holy Cross. A more likely hypothesis is that it was built by the Order of the Holy Sepuchre from the nearby town of Toro. Today, it’s not an active parish but rather a revered shrine that benefits from the patronage of many orders such as the Order of Malta and the Order of St. John, formally known as the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

Church of St. Dominic (Soria)

This 12th-century church dedicated to St. Dominic features many classic elements of Romanesque style, including a majestic rose window and several bas-reliefs depicting biblical scenes across the vaults, the tympanum and the capitals. The capital decorations of the facade, featuring scenes from the Creation and the Life of Christ, are particularly outstanding due to the complexity of their stone work. No wonder it is often defined as the “great facade of Spanish Romanesque style.”

Group of Duero Cimborrios (Zamora, Salamanca, Toro, Plasencia)

Spread over an area of 40 miles we find four religious buildings erected in the second half of the 12th century, referred to as “cimborrios,” which literally means “base of a cupola": the Cathedral of Zamora, the Old Cathedral of Salamanca, the monastic complex of Toro and the Old Cathedral of Plasencia. Art historians believe that the Cathedral of Zamora, built between 1151 and 1174, was probably the first built and later functioned as blueprint for the others. All of them have features typical of the late Romanesque and early Gothic periods, such as ornate domes.