The vault of Villaviciosa is one of the oldest existing examples of a true ribbed vault, and is the first of the crossed-arch type. Though its perfection suggests earlier trials, none has been found so far. It predates more than a Century the oldest Romanesque ribbed vaults. Notwithstanding its importance, no constructive and structural study has ever been made, neither a precise survey has been published.
The purpose of the present work is to fill this void in the history of vault construction. A detailed survey has been made, providing the first accurate drawings of the vault. A close inspection of the extrados, completed with a visual inspection of interior damages, has allowed ascertaining the main constructive features. With the geometry and the material, data a structural analysis has been made. This analysis explains the fundamental structural behaviour of the vault and throws new light in some historical issues; for example, allows to discard the widespread belief that the ribs are decorative: they are supporting the weight of the vault.
Fuentes, P. and S. Huerta. 2016. Geometry, Construction and Structural Analysis of the crossed-arch vault of the Chapel of Villaviciosa, in the Mosque of Córdoba. International Journal of Architectural Heritage.