Our first day of Spring, or so we thought, and Fermín and I were off on another excursión to the Ermita de San Esteban. What is an ‘ermita’ you ask? It’s a small church or chapel, and in this case, very, very small. It is speculated that this ermita was constructed between the X and XIII centuries. What is so special about this ermita is that it does not have a roof!! The builders, so long ago, took advantage of the way that the large rocks of the mountain gave a sort of coverage over the top of the ermita and therefore did not feel the need for a roof! I’m not sure if you can see from the picture, but on the right side where there seems to be a ‘hole’ or indention in the mountain is where the ermita is located.
As you can see it does have a ‘ceiling’ but there are no tiles, bricks, or any other material covering the top of the ermita to protect it from harsh weather conditions or large animal invasions! Amazingly enough, I guess they were right, because this little ermita has been situated here for over 1,500 years and is still standing in practically perfect condition!
As we headed into Viguera, were the ermita is situated up on a mountaintop, we first had to stop in to see Sra. Carmen, the keeper of the key. She was delighted to see us and first had to give us a tour of her house that she had recently remodeled. After showing us around she gave us the key and some ‘very vague’ instructions on how to reach the top…let’s just say, good thing Fermín is a great navigator of the mountainside! Sra. Carmen equipped us with walking sticks and a pamphlet that provided us with a lot of history about the ermita. Fermín and I sat down on an old fallen tree trunk and took a little time to read about the history of the ermita and what we would find inside before finally starting our journey to the top!
On this beautiful warm day we enjoyed our little hike to the top to finally find the ermita quietly situated beneath some very large overhanging rocks above. A perfect place of tranquility for one to come and reflect or pray. We opened up the door to the ermita and found inside some amazing paintings still conserved on the walls in colors ranging from red, yellow, white, and black. Although it was a bit difficult to make out some of the paintings, with our handy dandy guide we could figure out what they were. Above the alter, we could see the figures of the 12 apostles surrounding Jesus. Well, we could only see 5 apostles, but the pamphlet assured us that at one time there were 12. There were many other very interesting paintings as well including angels, the Virgin Mary, and a very descriptive seen of the 24 elders of the apocalypse as described in Revelation. It was incredible to see that so many years ago they were painting these scenes with such detail and even more incredible that they are still around for us to see today! Enchanting!
As we headed back down the mountain, we took in the sun and the warmth that this day shared with us! We were so happy to finally see some light and blue skies!!