Frómista is best known for its church of San Martín de Tours. construction of the church and its accompanying monastery (which has since vanished) began in the late 11th century at the instigation of the widow of Sancho el Mayor. her family was known for building churches and also commissioned the Catedral de Jaca and San Isidoro in León.
architects from the Jaca project designed San Martín as a reduced-scale model of the cathedral — a house of worship worthy of the Camino. designed in the Romanesque style, the large, evenly cut stones were quarried elsewhere and transported to Frómista; it also features an octagonal cupola, rounded apses, and remarkably detailed corbels and square metopes supporting the roof. the over 300 grotesques depict animals, vegetables, geometric knots and sirens (I thought I even spied a pineapple … but couldn’t decide whether that made sense in terms of chronology, trans-oceanic exploration, and native plants).
those painstaking attentions didn’t hold out in perpetuity, however — by the 13th century the monks abandoned the monastery; several ownership changes in the next 200 years saw some additions and expansions to the structure but it began to decay starting in the 15th century and by the middle of the 19th century it was deemed unacceptable for celebrations.
that’s when things took an interesting turn: in 1894, the building was de-consecrated, restored, reopened and recognized as a National Monument. now it’s open to the public, as I mentioned, and draws scads of coach tours from all over Spain to admire it.