Cuevas visigodas Valdecanales

Valdecanales estate Visigoth rock chapel

 

At the estate there is a national monument that has been declared of cultural interest, the Visigoth chapel where the Visigoth monks lived.

It was declared as national heritage on the 21st of March of 1970 due to its great cultural interest by decree 1052/1970. It was estimated to have been built between the 6-7th century. It is the only Visigoth Hypogeum in the south of Spain, and therefore, the most southern hypogeum in Europe.

The Visigoth Hypogeum’s are located on an old road that communicated the Visigoth capital Toledo and Granada, which passes through Úbeda. This location leads us to imagine that the main purpose was to welcome or host travellers passing through the area. 

The complex has three caves, the principal cave and two other attached caves. The biggest one was probably the public building where celebrations took place. The second cave was probably where the monks lived and the third cave seemed to be a chapel or a baptistery.

Cuevas Valdecanales

If we analyse the architectural features, even with all the erosion which the caves have suffered during the years, because of weather conditions and the natural decay produced by time, we can distinguish without any difficulties, the different architectonic elements; it maintains its shape and structure. We can also observe the remains of what must have been Visigoth paintings.

The façade has 12 horseshoe arches, with elongated pictures engraved on to the rock. On top of this, there are eroded cornices that must have been used for protection in the entrance of the caves.

Within each cave there are barrel vaults on square pilasters, which have a fretwork on the transversal arches.

As we know, Visigoths organized their kingdom in territorial entities, named county provinces. The demarcation that followed was the Territorium, and this is where the monasteries were developed, as for example this chapel.

It is believed that in addition to welcoming travellers and for liturgical functions; and after the Visigoth period, it was also used as Muslim quarters. 

We can also observe that the complex is located on a clayish land, as the rest of the estate.

It seems as if the complex was dug into sandstone and protected by granite rocks.