Los Ausines (Burgos) is home to one of the treasures of our Romanesque period, none other than the church belonging to the old Castilian monastery of San Quirce.
The monastery is said to have legendary origins. According to tradition, it was founded in 929 by the Count of Castile, Fernán González, to commemorate his first victory over the Moors.
Although the church itself is Romanesque, the top of the tower is Baroque. It was built in the 17th century and it’s here that the magnificent gargoyles can be seen.
San Quirce Church (Burgos, Spain).
From time to time we’re lucky enough to find some really unusual gargoyles, figures unique to a particular building that would be difficult to find elsewhere. This is the case of the San Quirce gargoyles and although they belong to a fairly common type, they have a very peculiar style. They are all superb and very stylised gargoyles.
Despite being quite badly weathered, which as you know, prevents us from appreciating their fine detail and even identifying their type, they are all very eye-catching figures.
There are three quadrupeds, two of which are winged. One has slightly almond-shaped, hollow eyes, a large triangular mouth and on the body you can just see a snake-like shape that might be part of a figure. On the other two you can see a head underneath, although both of them are badly damaged.
There is also a man pulling the hair of two human figures underneath him, which could perhaps be an anthropomorphic devil grasping two sinners.
The anthropomorph has the body of a winged quadruped and a human head with hair that resembles a crown.
The human figures are splendid. They are clothed men, two with long tunics and one crouching with his arms down the side of his body. We can also see another two men with gestures commonly seen in gargoyles: one is pulling his hair as a sign of anger or madness, and the other is pulling his mouth, a gesture with a variety of meanings, depending on the author (unconcerned, related to greed, etc.).
Here are some images of these beautiful, suggestive gargoyles from the magnificent Spanish artistic heritage.
Winged quadruped with head underneath.
Quadruped with head underneath.
Human with tunic.
Human with tunic.
Human pulling his hair.
Human pulling his mouth.
REBOLD BENTON, J., Holy Terrors. Gargoyles on medieval buildings, New York, Abbeville Press, 1997.
DE PINEDO, DOM. R., El simbolismo en la escultura medieval española, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, S. A., 1930.
Doctora en Historia del Arte. Investigadora especializada en el estudio de las Gárgolas.