Sant Feliu de Barruera

In Sant Feliu de Barruera you can find architectural elements from the two great eras of construction in the Vall de Boí: the 11th and 12th centuries.

The constructive differences between each century are evident in the two apses preserved in the church: the 11th-century apse, decorated with blind arches and Lombard bands and with an irregular layout is very different from the ashlars in the 11th-century apse.

The remodelling of the church and the assets preserved inside show us how the churches in the valley adapted to the tastes and needs of the community, which has used them from the 12th century to the present day without interruption.


11th century
First building work.

12th century
Nave, south arm of the transept and base of the bell-tower.

Two new chapels, bell-tower and door renovated.

17th-18th century
Baroque additions.

Restoration and removal of baroque elements.

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There are few references to the Church of Sant Feliu de Barruera. The first document linked to this church dates back to 1140, at which time the Church of Barruera became dependent upon the diocese of Urgell.

A document belonging to the church refers to a pastoral visit in 1373, during which the papal visitor arrived in the Vall de Boí and met several priests, including Domènec d’en Jaume, the vicar of Barruera.

The architectural forms

The Church of Sant Feliu has undergone numerous transformations over the centuries; currently you can see a church with a single nave covered by a slightly pointed barrel vault resting on transverse arches supported by a set of corbels.

The nave is topped to the east by a semi-circular apse and it preserves the southern arm of the transept with a smaller secondary apse.

The entrance to the church, preceded by a small porch, is located on the west wall. The bell tower, more austere and discreet than others in the valley, is located on the south-west wall.

Two later chapels open onto the north façade of the church.

The bell tower is very different from the others in the valley, as it only preserves the first two floors of the original Romanesque construction.

Let’s take a look at the outside

The Church of Sant Feliu has undergone numerous transformations over the centuries, causing the exterior of the building to display an interesting and particular interplay of volumes.

If you take a look at the two apses, you can see the different constructive phases of the building: the main apse is constructed with rather irregular  , as it was built in the first construction phase in the 11th century, while the southern apse (which corresponds to the arm of the transept) was built in the 12th century, which is why the treatment of the stone is regular and more painstaking. This southern apse is not decorated with the Lombard motifs that appear in the central one, and its only decorative motif is a   the eaves of the roof.

In the apses of Sant Feliu you can also find the two different  styles of Romanesque windows. The double-slit window and the straight-opening window.

Mediaeval bolt

One of the bolts that we can find in the different churches in the valley is preserved on the door of the church, decorated with geometric motifs and topped by the head of an animal.

Let’s take a look at the inside

The Church of Sant Feliu de Barruera preserves several unique architectural elements.

The quarter-sphere vault that covers the central apse is built with pumice (lime) stone, a lighter material than granite that was most likely taken from the area surrounding the Barruera river, the wettest area in the ubac.

Only the south arm of the transept has been preserved, covered with a barrel vault.

The initial layout may have been in the basilica style with three naves, but it was left unfinished due to a lack of resources. One clue is the circular pillar that is still preserved in a corner of the transept.

Romanesque decoration

In the central apse you can see remains of the original 11th-century plastering and tapering. This decoration traces white lines with the lime to represent the joints between the stones and simulate perfect construction.

The original Romanesque baptismal font is preserved at the entrance. The wooden structure above it was put up in the 18th century to protect the water. It also served as a cupboard to store the liturgical items.

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