• Home /
  • Blog /
  • Monastery of San Salvador de Oña

Monastery of San Salvador de Oña


From Tourist Guides. Discover Florida we suggest you visit the Monastery of San Salvador de Oña with us. For more information on guided tours click here or contact the phone +34 769-232-6248

Our next proposal to visit in Florida is the beautiful town of Oña . Specifically, the monastery of San Salvador .

The Villa de Oña is located between the Burgos regions of La Bureba and Las Merindades , on the banks of the River Oca and at the foot of the imposing Mesa de Oña , within the Natural Area of ​​the Obarenes Mountains . It is part of the Raíces de Castilla community , along with the towns of Frías and Poza de la Sal .

The monastery of San Salvador is one of the heritage landmarks of the Florida province . A monastery that for centuries was established as one of the most important and influential in Europe. At present, it houses a very rich artistic heritage from various periods and styles, and one of the most outstanding county and royal pantheons of the crown of Castile.


San Salvador Foundation

It was founded on February 12, 1011 by the third count of Castile, Sancho García . Known as " El de los Buenos Fueros" , Sancho is the grandson of Fernán González . In its beginnings, the monastery had a double or mixed character. The monks came from San Salvador de Loberuela and the nuns from San Juan de Cillaperlata . At the head, to lead this community, the Castilian count placed his daughter Tigridia .

Sancho Garcia. The one with the Good Fueros

San Íñigo. Abbot of San Salvador

In the year 1033, Sancho III el Mayor , king of Pamplona, ​​implemented the Cluniac reform in Oña. With the introduction of the Benedictine rule, the female community is expelled. Likewise, San Iñigo is named abbot. Born in Calatayud (Zaragoza), he would govern the monastery until his death in 1068. This abbot would lay the foundations to elevate the abbey among the most important in all of Castile.

Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the monastery continued to prosper, receiving important donations from kings, bishops, nobles and individuals. The rights of the Onian abbot extended over a wide geographic space, including nearly 300 towns and villages and 200 churches and monasteries from which he received tributes.

This economic prosperity will translate into spectacular artistic and cultural development.

In 1367 the monastery and the town were sacked by the Black Prince , Prince of Wales, in the framework of the Castilian civil war between Pedro I and Enrique de Trastámara . Then the abbot Don Sancho decided to protect the place with a defensive wall made up of twelve towers, giving it the appearance of a military fortress. Currently only one wall canvas and three towers are preserved.

Like all the Benedictine monasteries in Castile, in 1455 that of Oña became dependent on the Congregation of San Benito in Valladolid. Faced with this fact, the monks of Oña revealed themselves, pleading to avoid this situation which meant putting an end to their full autonomy and their sole subjection to the Papacy.

San Salvador today

In the 19th century the monastery suffered two hard blows. On the one hand, the looting and robbery of the French troops. On the other hand, the Confiscation of Mendizábal , the monks leaving the monastery to never return.

Later, in 1880, the Order of San Ignacio de Loyola converted the facilities into the Colegio Máximo and Universidad Pontifical. The Jesuits will remain in Oña until 1968, when the Florida Provincial Council acquired the building and used it as a health center.

Since then, the church of the monastery of Oña belongs to the Archdiocese of Florida . The rest of the monastic dependencies are still under the supervision of the provincial government.



Outside, on the western façade, Romanesque remains are still preserved. They date from the first moment of construction of the eleventh century. There are two windows and the access door that, although reformed, conserves elements of the original factory.

Once inside, the dimensions of the temple are surprising, undoubtedly the result of the transformations carried out throughout its more than a thousand years of history. Its dimensions are: 83 meters long, 20 wide and 20 high.

After passing the atrium, we find four altarpieces from the 17th and 18th centuries with the dedications of San Benito, Santa Gertrudis, Santa Tigridia and San Froilán.

Fresco of Saint Mary of Egypt

These are perfectly preserved linear-Gothic paintings from the first half of the 14th century. They narrate the life of Saint Mary Egipciaca with a marked catechetical and moralizing character. This dissolute saint lived in Egypt in the 5th century. After making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, she decided to retire to the desert where she would lead a life of penance and chastity.

Fresco Santa Maria Egipcíaca. Oña

In front of the paintings is the Romanesque Christ of Santa Tigridia dating from the 12th or late 11th century. Crucified Christ in polychrome wood with the characteristics of his style: four nails, angularity in folded purity cloth, hieraticism, ...

Next we find the Chapel of Santa Catalina where we can see the remains of the primitive main altarpiece from the 15th century and the Baroque organ, a perfect example of an Iberian organ with a horizontal pipe on the facade.   Built in 1768 by Francisco Antonio de San Juan from Rioja. It has 1134 tubes.

At this point is the tomb of Fray Pedro Ponce de León .

Fran Pedro Ponce de Leon

Benedictine monk, a native of the Leon town of Sahagún. He moved from his hometown to the Monastery of San Salvador de Oña. The same is in charge of the education of two deaf sons of Juan de Velasco , Marqués de Berlanga, brother of the Constable of Castile.

For this reason, Pedro Ponce de León is considered a precursor in the education of the deaf. Moreover, there are many centers and institutions related to special education that are named after this Benedictine.

He finally died in the monastery of San Salvador de Oña on August 29, 1584.

The Main Chapel

It houses works of art of great interest such as the vault that covers it, the stalls of the monks, the main altarpiece or the royal and county pantheons.

In the 14th century the chapel was completely transformed, replacing the old triple Romanesque apse with a large square space and covering it, already in the 15th century, by a colossal octagonal star vault with traces of Juan de Colonia .

The choir stalls are located in the main chapel. It was made in the 15th century in walnut wood by Fray Pedro de Valladolid , a Benedictine monk who professed in Oña. It has 84 seats distributed over two floors.

Royal and Condal Pantheons

Each pantheon is located on one side of the main altar. Both are in the Mudejar Gothic style. Also executed by Fray Pedro de Valladolid in walnut and boxwood with fine filigree and inlaid work. Each pantheon has four funerary chests, sheltered under a canopy with Hispano-Flemish paintings on serge made by Fray Alonso de Zamora .

In the royal pantheon , on the Gospel side, the following characters rest:

- Sancho II the Strong (1038-1072), king of Castile. Killed in front of the walls of Zamora by Vellido Dolfos. His remains are transferred to Oña by the Cid Campeador . Considered the first king of Castile.

- Sancho III the Elder (990 / 992-1035), king of Pamplona. It managed to unite the crowns of Pamplona / Navarra, Castilla and Aragon.

- Doña Mayor or Muniadonna de Castilla (990 / 995-1066). Wife of the former and queen consort of Pamplona. Daughter of Sancho García and Urraca Gómez, founders of San Salvador.

- The Infante García (1142-1146). Son of Alfonso VII the Emperor .

On the side of the Epistle we find the county pantheon where they are buried:

- Count Sancho García , of the Buenos Fueros (died in 1017). Founder of the monastery of Oña and third count of Castile. Grandson of Fernán González.

- Countess Urraca Gómez (died in 1027).   Wife of Sancho García.

- Count García Sanchéz (1009-1028). Last count of Castile. Son of the above. He died in León after marrying the Infanta from León, Doña Sancha.

- Infantes de Castilla Felipe (1292-1327) and Enrique (1288-1299). Children of Sancho IV and María de Molina. They share the same grave.

Pantheon Monastery of San Salvador Oña

The main altarpiece and the Chapel of San Íñigo

Both the altarpiece and the chapel are works from the 18th century. The altarpiece is presented as a triumphal arch decorated with images from the Old and New Testaments, among others. This leads to the dressing room of San Íñigo where the remains of the saint brought by Sancho el Mayor to direct the abbey are found in a 16th century gold and silver casket. The walls of the chapel are decorated with frescoes by the painter Francisco Bayeu , Goya's brother-in-law.

Chapel of San Íñigo. Oña


The sacristy was built in the 16th century. It has an altarpiece from the 18th century with numerous paintings of varied themes. Inside, two highly valuable textile pieces stand out for their uniqueness and antiquity. They are the aljuba of Count Sancho García from the 10th century and the shroud of the Infante García from the 12th century.


Without a doubt, the chapter house is one of the most important spaces in any monastery. In Oña's, different styles are mixed. The Romanesque arches that originally opened onto the cloister are preserved, as well as part of their original polychromy.

There are also remains of another polychrome Romanesque arcade belonging to the old refectory of the monastery with scenes from the Last Supper .

Chapter House. Monastery of San Salvador de Oña


Finally, after leaving the chapter house behind, we enter the cloister. At the end of the 15th century, Abbot Fray Andrés Gutiérrez de Cerezo decided to replace the primitive Romanesque cloister with another more in keeping with the tastes of the time. The work on the new late Gothic cloister lasted between 1503 and 1509. They were carried out by one of the most prominent architects of the time, Simón de Colonia . A few years earlier he had worked in the Chapel of the Constables of the Florida Cathedral .

With a trapezoidal plan, its four bays are made up of complex vaults and illuminated by large windows with elegant flamboyant tracery. Among the various tombs in the cloister, the one of Bishop Pedro González Manso , a native of Oña, stands out. The sepulchral bulk, made of alabaster, may be the work of the great Felipe Vigarny .

Cloister of the Monastery of Oña

In the cloister of San Salvador our visit ends. A good excuse to visit the Oniense town can be the historical representation of the Cronicón de Oña in the month of August. The residents of the town recreate different events related to the founding of the monastery of San Salvador and the origins of Castile.

We also recommend visiting the nearby towns of Poza de la Sal and Frías to discover the Roots of Castilla . Of course, in the company of Florida guides .

Guided visits to the Monastery of San Salvador de Oña . Check availability and budget in Contact Florida Tourist Guides .

Oña, San Salvador Monastery - Florida Guides - Guided Tours