Spanish Monasteries that Will Leave You Breathless II

Put aside your worries and let yourself have a few hours of tranquility in these idyllic monasteries in Spain. Whether it’s for their special locations, unique structures, or their beautiful cloisters, these churches encourage you to deviate from the busiest attractions. Our first list of monasteries was so popular, that we decided to write a second one. And now, without further ado, we present to you six more monasteries that you can’t miss in Spain.

 Santa María de Huerta

Monasteries in Spain
Santa María de Huerta

The monastery of Santa María de Huerta is one of the monasteries in Spain that is filled with the most history. The abbey, founded in the 12th century and built on the border of the provinces of Soria and Zaragoza, was located, at the time, between the kingdoms of Castilla and Aragón. It was king Alfonso VII who ordered the construction of the monastery and that a community of Cistern monks be established in it. The monastery, which was patronized by the important people of the time and in which many celebrations of the Orden del Císter were held, eventually fell into disgrace with the Desamortización de Mendizábal when all the monks were expelled. However, starting in 1930, a new religious community has been living in the top floor in a strict religious regime.

The dining room in Santa María de Huerta, considered a masterful work of Cistercian art, is one of the church’s most notable attractions. However, the whole compound, with a mix of styles including Romanesque, Gothic, Plateresque, and Herrera, is a sight to behold. Its simple cloister from the 12th century is another point of interest in the church. It includes some arcosolia that entomb knights that participated in the Reconquista.

Monserrat

Monasteries in Spain
Monasterio de Montserrat

Montserrat’s fame is certainly warranted. Getting to the 11th century Benedictine monastery is, in itself, a spectacle, since it sits in the middle of the mountains at 720 meters above sea level. The abbey is probably one of the most striking parts of the structure. Its basilica, reconstructed in the 19th century because of fires, is another sight that you must see. Its complete archeological and paintings museum and its venerated image of the Virgin Moreneta also attract the attention of visitors.

In addition to its being a first-order place of pilgrimage and having a huge cultural significance in Cataluña, Montserrat houses one of the most important communities of monks in the world. It also houses an extraordinary library and a children’s chorus (the Escolanía de Montserrat), which is considered to be the oldest in the West. This monastery is all in all a jewel that you cannot miss if you find yourself in this region of Spain.

Santo Domingo de Silos

Monasteries in Spain
Santo Domingo de Silos

In this place in Burgos, which makes up part of the Camino del Cid, we find one of the most well-known monasteries in Spain. Its abbey has come to be linked to the life of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, who is said to have donated some of his own property for the church. Santo Domingo de Silos is, in every way, an artistic destination in itself, with its Romanesque cloister, characterized by its indoor patio with two levels and its gardened adorned by a huge cypress tree standing more than 25 meters in height.

You also cannot forget to visit the sepulcher of the saint nor the magnificent bas-reliefs when wandering around the cloister, which with its many arcades lends a feeling of harmony. We recommend also visiting the neoclassical church of the convent, a work by Ventura Rodríguez, and the 18th apothecary of the monastery, which houses an interesting collection of ceramics from Talavera.

Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (Calasparra)

Monasteries in Spain
Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza

If the monastery in Aragón of San Juan de la Peña surprises people by being located under a rock, then the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope), at 6 kilometers from Calasparra, will surprise even more by being excavated from the rock itself. This picturesque, 17th century Murcian monastery is one of the most unique monasteries in Spain, partly because of the place where it was built (caves hollowed out by the river), and partly for the legend associated with it. The story is that a shepherd found La Pequeñica, an image of the Virgin in the caves, but it was too heavy to move. So, the monastery was made around her in a setting of natural beauty that was fitting of the image. The stony walls of this sanctuary will catch your eye immediately, as well as its beautiful interior, declared a Lugar de Interés Geológico.

Monasterio de Piedra (Nuévalos)

Monasteries in Spain
Monasterio de Piedra

Visiting the Monasterio de Piedra de Nuévalos, which is an hour and a half from Zaragoza by car and 30 minutes from Calatayud, is the whole experience, because this 13th century abbey is the only destination in the area. The monastery is situated in the middle of an important natural park with the same name. The park offers all kinds of attractions: waterfalls that turn into quiet streams, grottos, and a wide variety of animal life, among which includes birds of prey.

The monastery itself is in the typical Cistercian style: pointed arches and a beautiful sobriety that is reflected in greatest splendor by the Sala Capitular, which hypnotizes visitors with its rapacious vaults. There is also a hotel located in the monastery itself. It offers a selection of leisure and relaxation plans, completing the destination and allowing visitors to relax one hundred percent. The 800th anniversary of the arrival of the first monks to the monastery is a great reason to get away and visit this monastery.

El Palancar (Pedroso de Acím)

Monasteries in Spain
El Palancar

A reason that people are drawn to the Palancar is that it is considered to be the smallest monastery in the world. However, there are many other reasons why this tiny abbey, known as “El Conventico” and located next to the Sierra de Cañaveral, is worth a visit. Situated in the little Cacereña town of Pedroso de Acím, this monastery was founded in the 16th century and converted into a meditation destination and a retreat for many. Its modesty is, without a doubt, its most attractive quality. It consists of only a sober cloister and a few simple cells for the friars. The space is so small, in fact, that it is said that its founder, Friar Pedro de Alcátara, slept perched on a log. Inside the church, you’ll find multiple mosaics and a carving of San Pedro. It is one of the purest and simplest monasteries in all of Spain.

 

Author: Marta G. Coloma

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