After Sarria and having walked through beautiful forests of oak and chestnut trees, the pilgrim will reach the parish of Barbadelo where he will find a traditional village and a splendid Romanesque church devoted to St. James. The church and village of Barbadelo owe their origin in an ancient priory that was dependent on the near Samos Abbey, whose origin explains the medieval name of the place “mosteiro” (abbey) still used at the time of the Codex Calixtino.
The present church is a jewel of Galician Romanesque, with capitals and sculpted tympanums and, above all, one of the few Romanesque towers that remain in Spain. The original apse, however, was lost when renovation work was done in the seventeenth century.
The most interesting thing about this architecture is the fact that its tower does not stand apart from the building but it is integrated into its northwest corner.
Three doors of the church remain, of which the South is the least interesting having lost almost all the original ornamentation. The northern front has a smooth drum with pentagonal lintel and is framed by two columns with decorated capitals facing one another with lions and snakes with a dragon’s head.
The best of the doors is the main one on the West façade. It has archivolts supported on bent columns with capitals decorated with interesting figures, animals and hybrids from the medieval bestiary. There is also a mysterious human figure, a character sitting on a throne or chair, but there is no way of knowing whether it is a religious or civil, saint or king figure. As for the tympanum of this main portal, it presents an interesting relief with a figure with its arms open, in a praying position.
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Text: Rosa Vázquez
Photos: Commons Wikipedia (José Antonio Gil Martínez)
This post is also available in: Spanish