Santa Cruz de la Serós and its First Romanesque churches

Santa Cruz de la Serós (in Aragonese: Santa Cruz d’as Serors) is a village at the south-west of Jaca, in the province of HuescaAragonSpain. It is located at a hill side on the way to the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña.

Main attractions

The village is known for its two First Romanesque churches from which the village takes its name: Serós is a derivation of Sorores, Sisters, i.e. nuns.

Santa María de Santa Cruz de la Serós is a former Benedictine nunnery. In the 11th century it functioned as a “family monastery” for the royal family of Aragon. Female members of the family ruled the monastery from within while family members outside the monastery patronised it.

The date of Santa María’s foundation is unknown. It is first mentioned in a document of 1070. In that document, Sancha de Aibar, mother of King Ramiro I, grants some land to Ramiro I’s daughter Sancha on the condition that she leave them to the nuns of Santa María on her death.

The nuns’ church, which was at least under construction in the late 11th century, is one of the earliest buildings in Aragon in the Romanesque style. The plan of the small church, which is the only building of the complex that still stands, is that of a Latin cross. The exterior is ashlar masonry. The interior has sculpted capitals and intricate mouldings. The nave is barrel-vaulted with a semicircular apse. The south arm of the transept has a high tower with a dome on squinches. The bunched and massive look of the church probably stood out less when it was merely the central building among many, but today it stands alone. Many of the architectural elements have traces of polychrome: they were once painted in bright colours.

San Caprasio is a church, in First Romanesque style. The church is dedicated to St. Caprasius, a 4th-century Gaulish-Roman saint connected to the pilgrims who, during the Middle Ages, took the Way of Santiago. The town of Santa Cruz de la Serós was located some 3 km from the route.

It was erected in the early 11th-century in Lombard-Romanesque style, perhaps with support of artists and craftsmen from northern Italy. In 1089 the diocese of Jaca gave the church to monastery of San Juan de la Peña, which, for some time, converted it into a priorate.

The church did not undergo substantial modifications since its construction in the 11th century, with the exception of the 12th-century bell tower, which is however separated from the interior.

The main body, in stone, has a single nave, with two cross vaults. The apse, of small size, is surmounted by a barrel vault and sided by fake arcades and three windows. Fake arcades and columns are also present on the external perimeter.

How to get to?

From Huesca 1 hr 18 min (94.1 km) via A-23

From Zaragoza 1 hr 58 min (161 km) via A-23

From Madrid 4 hr 48 min (477 km) via A-2

Main information

Area: 27 sq. km

GPS coordinates: 42°31′23″N 0°40′28″W

Language: Spanish, Aragonese

Population: 193

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1, in summer +2

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