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Fountain of Foncalada

World Heritage


The fountain of Foncalada is the only civil building conserved in the Asturian pre-Romanesque style. Its date is uncertain: it was built in the reign of Alfonso II “the Chaste” (791-842), but there has also been speculation that it might be of Roman origin.

The structure is monumental in nature and shaped like a small shrine or tabernacle, characterized by the use of square ashlar stones with gabled roof and vaulted interior. It was built on a base consisting of quadrangular slabs.

The fountain operated by siphoning off water directly from a spring, which, starting from a small channel, was intended to flow into a pond in front of the fountain.

In the upper part of the eastern façade, right at the vertex of the frontispiece, there is a cross with the Alpha and Omega of the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse and an inscription, supplemented with others also located on the façade at either side of semicircular arch, in very poor state of conservation.


 “This sign protects the pious man. This sign conquers the enemy”. “Lord, place the sign of salvation on this fountain, and do not allow the angle who strikes us to enter”.

The Latin text matches that of a prayer for sanctifying water, and its model is found in the Liber Ordinum of the Hispanic liturgy:

May you be made holy by God’s word, Heavenly Water; may you be made holy, water that Christ has tread upon with his feet; the mountains that gird you do not enclose you; the rocks that strike you do not break you; you are spread over the earth, but not exhausted. You sustain the solid land; you support the weight of the mountains and you do not collapse. Sprinkled over everything near you, the vertex of the heavens encompasses you; you cleanse everything and are not cleansed. Hardened like ice, you compressed yourself for the fugitive Hebrew nation. And the opposite: dissolved in salted whirlpools, you destroy the habitants of the Nile and pursue the enemy troops in a stormy sea. You are a single thing, but both the salvation of the faithful and punishment for the guilty. The rock that Moses struck sent you for and although you are secluded, you could not stay hidden in the rocks, since you emerged by the orders of Majesty. Transported by the clouds, you fertilize the fields with your pleasant rain” (Spanish translation of José Antonio Valdés Gallego) (English translation based on the Spanish translation by Zesauro Traducciones).

This allusion to the power of water as medicinal balm is symbolically related with the purity of Christianity. The biblical allusions of the engraved tests shows us the dominant ideology in the Asturian kingdom, always battling Islam and based on the connection between the throne and the altar.



Antique photos

Selection of photos of Santa María del Naranco that can be viewed at the following button



Calle Foncalada, s/n, 33001 Oviedo


Acceso Libre