The Benedictine Monastery of San Pelayo was founded in the Middle Ages dedicated to St John the Baptist. However, with the transfer of the remains of St Pelagius to Oviedo/Uviéu to be deposited in this convent, it changed its name to the Monastery of San Pelayo.
It is a cloistered convent that forms part of the history of Asturias, as it has managed to amass an outstanding collection of documents during its thousand years of existence and currently serves as the Provincial Historical Archives. The nuns who occupy it have traditionally been known as "las Pelayas".
In its splendid archives can found collections from the monasteries of San Bartolomé de Nava, Santa María de Villamayor, San Vicente and Santa María de la Vega, alongside many objects and relics that have come to form part of the convent.
The church was built between 1592 and 1600. It has a simple ground plan, a single nave without any chapels. The simple façade, between side walls and above an elongated staircase, is built with perfectly hewn ashlar. It consists of three doorways with mouldings, the central one being higher. Above this, there is a large niche with the stone figure of St Pelagius and a glass rose window. The interior is majestic, thanks to the choir stalls which came from the old Convent of San Vicente. Carved in wood in the late 16th century, they are simply made in the Mannerist style. They comprise thirty-six seats of honour with an extensive iconographic repertoire on the backs, where kings and emperors are portrayed.
The ornate façade of the vicarage was designed in 1703, based on the design of Baroque palaces. The ground floor has three large arches between free-standing Tuscan columns that support the balconies on the first floor, which are decorated with lugged architraves between Ionic columns. The second floor bears the coats of arms of the Benedictine Order, below the royal coat of arms, which is situated between two Corinthian columns on a prominent attic below the curved pediment.
The cloister has three levels that make it a solid construction with a certain monumental air. Like the church, the cloister is supported by pillars and Tuscan columns.
In the 17th century, the old bell tower was replaced by a new tower topped with a Gothic tracery spire, reproducing at a smaller scale the verticality of the cathedral tower.