San Martín church in Frómista: Romanesque pilgrimage perfection and a figurine of a one-armed hobo

San Martín church in Frómista, Spain is the archetype of a Romanesque pilgrimage church.  Obviously I’m crazy about the place.


It’s the clarity of the structure I love most of all.  Notice the precision of the architectural elements and the way the building cleanly meets the plaza.

San Martín was built quickly—in about 15 years beginning in the 1060’s—which explains it’s stylistic coherence.


The lantern is in the shape of an octagon and check it out—three apses for the price of one!

Why yes, that is a UNESCO World Heritage insignia on the sign on the left side of the photo.




If Mies van der Rohe were to design a Romanesque pilgrimage church it would look like San Martín.


I wonder how many similar Romanesque beauties were torn down and replaced with overblown Gothic mega-churches?


We visited Frómista during our Cultural Camino across Northern Spain.  Judging by the many benches and ample plaza space surrounding the church, it is a popular stopping point for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.  In early February however, we were the only pilgrims stupid intrepid enough to be tramping around in the frigid outdoors all day.


Perfect proportions with modest but elegant details (and the church ain’t too shabby either).


Checkered trim on the eaves.


The church’s minimal but charming specific exterior decor.


View of the nave with graceful barrel vaults.


Aisles are nearly the same height of the nave and there’s lots of natural light.


See the octagonal lantern inside the crossing tower? It starts out square then turns into an octagonal dome which was quite innovative for the time.


Pillar detail.


13th century crucifix.


Capital carving featuring two magi shoving Joseph, who is holding both Mary and baby Jesus on his lap.


Crotch shots and wind-barfing: the best themes of medieval art.


Group Heimlich Maneuver?


The hostal we slept in at Frómista. (Why do I always insist on standing like a flamingo?)

onearmhobo (2)

The One Armed Hobo Man, a figurine inside our hostal room.  I worked really hard on the placement of his dismembered hand, so I hope you admire it.


Frómista has a great, cheap grocery store—so cheap that we bought way too many groceries.  That €1 bag of oranges that seemed like a great deal at the time, was less endearing after we shlepped it across Castile and León.

Our train was 2 1/2 hours late.


How we got to Frómista: train from Burgos to Palencia followed by another train from Palencia to Frómista. Where we slept: Hostal Camino de Santiago.  Price: €45 for a double.  Recommended: yes.




  1. Congratulations for the beautiful pictures ! Your text is so interesting ! I was in this area 40 years ago. I visited Ripoll in Pyrenean Spain in 2008. Same impression inside …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Were there a lot of Camino pilgrims 40 years ago? The pilgrimage seems to have become more popular recently.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was not a real pilgrimage for me, but there were a lot of pilgrims … perhaps less than before, during centuries;

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That is elegant in a way that forces you to pause and take a closer look (the church, not the one-armed hobo).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL–that hobo should have UNESCO status too. There was another surprisingly large statuette of a wistful Shepherd in the stairwell of the hostal.


  3. What a gorgeous church! Nice work on that one UNESCO 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s like a perfect model for a pilgrimage church, as if you could have a little scaled down version in your pocket and you could say “here it is: perfection!”.


  4. Reblogged this on fastfeettraveller and commented:
    I can’t help but love the purity of the Spanish cathedrals. The vast space inside makes me feel so small. I love adoring the greatness of humanity every time I walk under the arches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Purity” is a great word to describe this church. As a rabid humanist, I share your reaction to the architecture.


  5. Your first shot is wonderful. We must get down to see these churches in Spain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dennis. I have more churches in Spain burning on my “must see” list too.


  6. […] is written by a married couple who call themselves Wife and Husband of Bath.  The post is entitled San Martín Church In Frómista: Romanesque Pilgramage Perfection And A Figurine Of A  One-Armed Ho….   Now, what does all this have to do with Maniobra de Heimlich, Heimlich Maneuver, which is my […]


  7. I looked forward to that town and that church for a long time during my camino last year. I am a St. Martin groupie, because he has been present in my life for many years and in many countries, and a fanatic of Medieval art and architecture, both Romanesque and Gothic. I even stayed at the hotel across the street so I could gaze at the church from my window. My only disappointment was that it has been deconsecrated and, for the practicing Catholic, has lost its heart and soul.
    My other disappointment, sorry to say, is with your spelling and grammar. It’s ‘its’ not ‘it’s’ in the possessive. And it’s (n.b.) Shepherd. I know artists aren’t often word people but I am one and seeing the misuse of common English words is like the sound of fingernails on a blackboard.


    1. It must have been a wonderful Camino for you, liffster, as both a medieval art fanatic and a Catholic. I hope you had extra time in your schedule to explore the more spectacular churches on the way.

      Thank you for taking the time to correct my spelling and grammar. I have corrected the offending errors. Please allow me to correct you as well in your assumption that artists are not word people. I’ve been living and working with artist my entire life, and while not all of them are word people, many of them are the biggest nerds you’ll ever meet. While I freely admit to my own iffy spelling and occasional grammar errors (which are not helped by my chronic insomnia) I am also a dedicated reader and lover of the literary world in general.


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