Santiago de Peñalba
The Valle del Silencio is known as "La Tebaida Berciana" (the Bercian Thebaid) due to the abundance of sanctuaries and monasteries, dating to the 8th century.
Abbot Salomón promoted the construction of the church in the first half of the 10th century, a time of prosperity in the Kingdom of León. It was completed in the reign of Ramiro II, who expanded the limits of his kingdom beyond the Duero River. Ramiro II made multiple donations to the church and the monastery.
One of those donations, made to the Bishopric of Astorga, was the so-called Cruz de Peñalba (Cross of Peñalba), a symbol of El Bierzo's comarca. This cross is an example of Visigothic gold work, influenced by Mozarabic models.
The church's decoration is a mixture of Celtic elements, including lunar and astral symbols; Byzantine influences seen in its Greek-cross plant; Arab elements, especially a small umbrella roof dome which covers the principal altar; and Mozarabic influence, seen in its famous horseshoe arches.
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