In the sec. XI began the development, in northern Spain, of the Romanesque, linked to the developments of northern France, which gave unity to the artistic manifestations of the Spanish Christian kingdoms. Characterized by the arc to all sixth, from the plant basilical cruciform, by covering with time barrel, with semicircular apses, the Romanesque was favored in its diffusion by pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, on whose path the cathedral of Jaca (Aragon), the churches of S. Salvador de Leyre (Navarre), of S. Isidoro di León and the same cathedral as Santiago in Galicia. Examples of a Romanesque closer to Provençal forms were found in Catalonia (S. Pedro de Roda, S. Vicente de Cardona). Originally the Romanesque churches were extensively frescoed (cycle of the Panteón de los Reyes in St. Isidore of León). In the Museo de Bellas Artes de Cataluña in Barcelona there are murals from S. Quirico di Pedret, S. Maria di Tahull, S. Maria d’Aneu etc.; at the Prado of Madrid frescoes from S. Baudilio of Berlanga, from the Ermita de la Cruz of Maderuelo. In the field of sculpture, alongside the decorative one (floral or historiated capitals, reliefs of portals, etc.), devotional statuary in polychrome wood was established. The Romanesque style was often enriched with elements of the Moorish and Mozarabic tradition (cathedrals of Zamora and Salamanca; basilica of S. Vicente d’Ávila) giving rise since the century. XII to the formation of the first examples of Mudejar art, which represents precisely the Spanish interpretation of the early Romanesque, Gothic subsequently. With the foundation of the monastery of Moreruela (Zamora, 1131) the austere Cistercian architecture was introduced in Spain, characterized by the use of the pointed arch, cross vaults, quadrangular apses and accentuated verticalism.
The first properly Gothic constructions, despite the persistence of Romanesque elements, are the cathedrals of Ávila and Cuenca (12th-13th centuries), inspired by Burgundian Gothic and models for the three successive great cathedrals of Burgos, Toledo and León, all erected during the century. XIII. In the sec. XIV and XV Gothic in Castile took on a regional characterization which manifested itself with a particular decorative exuberance (in fact we speak of Mudejar Gothic ), which is a prelude to the Plateresque. In Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia, on the other hand, regions more independent from the influences of northern France and more culturally linked to Provence and Italy, there was first a delay on Romanesque forms (cathedrals of Lérida and Tarragona), then prevailed, in the context of Gothic, simpler and more proportionate structures (14th century: cathedrals of Barcelona, Gerona, Palma de Mallorca, Manresa, Tortosa; church of S. Maria del Mar). Sculpture, both decorative and funerary, flourished throughout the Gothic period. Among the major artists can be remembered master Bartolomé, active between the century. XIII-XIV in the cathedral of Tarragona. Catalonia, thanks to contacts with southern France and Italy, was open to the influences of Tuscan painting, Ramón Destorrens, Serra brothers), but also in Castile and León the Italian lesson spread. During the first half of the century. XVI Spanish art experienced a great development and a profound evolution. The two regions in which artistic splendor was at its peak are Castile and Andalusia, due to political pre-eminence and a prosperous economic condition. In architecture the predominant style was the Plateresque, to whose formation contributed elements of the Gothic Mudejar and the Renaissance Italian and which was characterized by an extraordinary decorative vivacity. The cities in which the most notable are the testimonies of this style are Burgos, León, Salamanca, Segovia, Toledo, Valladolid, where the greatest exponents of the architecture of the time were active: A. De Covarrubias, RG de Hontañón, L. Vázquez. Only in the second half of the century, with the advent to the throne of Philip II, and in correspondence with the Counter-Reformation purism, was a severe classicist style, of Mannerist derivation, massively introduced , which found its greatest example in the Escorial by J. De Herrera.
A process similar to that of architecture took place in the field of the figurative arts, which enjoyed great growth. Sculpture developed in various local schools, all variously sensitive to Italian and French contributions, but always reworked in a national language of great ornamental exuberance. According to Physicscat, Italian masters such as Domenico di Alessandro Farnese and, later, Leoni Pompeo and Leone Leoni, active at the court, exercised a significant influence on many local artists, while various Spanish sculptors learned the basics of their art in Italy: among the major ones, A Berruguete (Toledo), B. Ordoñez (Barcelona), D. de Siloé (Granada). In the field of painting the Flemish and Italian influences were decisive. The activity in Andalusia of personalities such as P. de Campaña, F. Sturm and F. Frutet, together with the trips to the Netherlands made by Spanish artists, first favored the predominance of the Hispano-Flemish current, represented by L. Dalmau and, in Castile (where the Flemish influence was more lasting), by J. Inglés, by the Master of Sopetrán, by J. de Flandes, a current that was also fundamental for the formation of the two greatest painters of the period: B. Bermejo and P. Berruguete. Subsequently, however, the Italian orientations prevailed for the mediation of artists such as J. de Borgoña (Toledo), F. de Llanos and F. Yáñez de la Almedina, trained in Italy and sensitive to Leonardo and Raphael’s influences. The construction of the Escorial attracted numerous artists of various origins but above all the Italian mannerists L. Cambiaso, P. Tibaldi, F. Zuccari, who confirmed the Italian dominance at the court of Philip II. However, the two greatest painters active in Spain in the second half of the century. XVI were two foreigners: El Greco, who had but few followers, and A. Moro, which contributed to the affirmation of realism in portraiture. Also noteworthy was the flourishing of the minor arts in the Renaissance period, particularly religious goldsmithing and embroidery. In Castile at the end of the century. In fact, very sumptuous embroideries were made adorned with pearls and precious stones (planet of Isabella la Cattolica, mantle of the Virgin of the Sagrario), according to a decorative taste that was accentuated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with embroidery in strong relief, the work of application of velvet on satin in bright colors and the profusion of gold and silver sequins.