Mozarabic Basilica and Bobastro Ruins, Ardales (Unique Site)
Recommended month to visit it: March.
In a place of inaccessible nature known as Las Mesas de Villaverde, with narrow and winding paths, deep precipices and tall ravines, the Muladi rebel Omar Ben Hafsun established his headquarters to prepare the revolts against the Caliphate of Cordoba.
The ruins of a Moorish fortress, a Muslim necropolis and, above all, a purely unique Mozarab country church suggests that there is still much to discover in these archaeological remains of the of the 9th and 10th centuries. The church, probably built by Ben Hafsun when he converted to Christianity, is the only one known to be of Mozarab origin in what were the lands Al-Andalus.
- Bobastro: 341344 / 4085220
Mozarabic church in the form of a cave stands out from the rest of archaeological medieval monuments from the 9th and 10th century on this location. It has a plan of basilica, three naves and horseshoe arches. It was caved in a rock round 917 AD and connected to a hermitical convent.
It was discovered by F. J. Somonet in 1869 and excavated by G. de Mergelina in 1927. Bobastro was designed and built by Omar Ibn Hafsún at an unassailable place that was the centre of operations in the war against the Emirate of Córdoba.
Although the temple is the most famous part of this complex, the site includes as well the surroundings of ‘Las mesas de Villaverde’, which is the name of this place. Next to it, there is a rocky temple and a small quarry.
Thanks to its location and uniqueness, this complex is considered to be a Heritage of Cultural Interest. The Bobastro ruins are of great historic and tourist value.
The basilica has three naves, a rectangular form and it is canonically pointed eastwards. The central nave is little wider than the side aisles. There is a transept which is as broad as the naves, and three apses with squared sides. The central apse has a horseshoe form, which slightly crosses the lines of the rectangular plan.
The entrance to the apses and the sections had door posts and ironwork screen, which are typical for Mozarabic liturgy, were used to separate the space, and were carved on the rock. The level of the floor in different areas goes down east to west, possibly for liturgical reasons. Under the central nave floor, on the eastern side, there is an entrance to a crypt that was caved under the church.
Being traced somewhere between history and legend, this incredible monolithic construction and its surroundings are waiting to be studied in details. In a meanwhile, it gives an incredible picture of Spanish history from the end of the first millennium due to its astonishing features, location and scenery.