San Juan de la Peña

The monastery inside a cave

It is an unusual monumental site located seven kilometers from the jacetana town of Santa Cruz de la Serós. It is perched in a surprising place that Miguel de Unamuno described as “the mouth of a world of spiritual rocks covered with a forest of legend”.

Plan your stay in San Juan de la Peña

To make the transfers and to visit what there is to see in San Juan de la Peña, it takes no less than two hours. Then we recommend you to go up the A-1205 road to visit the monumental city of Jaca. There it is also possible to contract numerous activities of active tourism that are offered in the Natural Park of the Western Valleys. The excursion can continue up to Canfranc, where there is a historic rail station recently themed. To know the dishes and be able to book an accommodation, we prepared the page Sleep and Eat in San Juan de la Peña.

Do you want to visit this place?

Nowadays, San Juan de la Peña is one of the greatest artistic representations of the Romanesque period in Spain and one of the main tourist landmarks of Aragón. The two spaces that make up the set have been adapted to the tourist interpretation, complemented by a hostelry, a museum and two interpretation centers.

There is much to see in San Juan de la Peña: The Old Monastery is located under the weight of a huge rock that seems to cover it completely while directing the very appearance of the place, digging the rock itself in several of its corners. It consists of two levels, being the superior fruit of the reforms undertaken from 1071. On the ground floor is the first Mozárabe Church, excavated in the rock, and the so-called Council Room. The Upper Church, consecrated in 1094, consists of a broad nave crowned by three semicircular apses. The legend tells that the central protected for a season the Holy Grail itself. Then, the Pantheon of Nobles shows several tombs embedded in the rock, many of which has in its ornamentation with checkered jaques. At the end of the visit you will arrive at the true jewel of the monastery, which is none other than the Cloister. Under the shelter of the rock, two of the four lines of arches topped by valances of taqueado jaqués that make up the original set are distributed in very good condition. The capitals stand out, works of the Master of Agüero (a reputed Romanesque artist of unknown name), which as a whole constitute a whole lesson in biblical history.

New Monastery of San Juan de la Peña

The New Monastery was built following the designs of the Miguel Ximénez from Zaragoza at the end of the 17th century on the meadow that crowns the rocky outcrop. It is a baroque brick building whose facade has three richly ornamented portals with scrolls, heads of angels or putti, acanthus leaves and vegetable stems. On the niche of the central portal occupied by San Juan Bautista two angels hold a shield. In the side niches San Indalecio (by the meadow) and San Benito (by the order to which the monks belonged). Its interior has been renovated at the beginning of the 21st century adapting it to the new times of the tourist industry. The Baroque Church has been converted into an Interpretation Center for the Kingdom of Aragon, which has an audiovisual explanation of the history of the region from its origins and the role played by the monastery. The ruins of the New Monastery that the monks left in the 19th century have become a continuous diorama with life-size figures of monks that constitutes the Interpretation Center of the Monastery. It has glazed passages, information panels, touch screens and 3D images to reconstruct the daily life of the monastic life.

The visit to the monastery should not miss Santa Cruz de la Serós. This is a small town located at the foot of the rock that is one of the most picturesque of the region and has in its possession the magnificent Church of Santa Maria.

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Claustro del Monasterio

Practical data

Coordenates

42° 30′ 27.77″ N, 0° 40′ 23.81″ W

Distances

Huesca 74 km, Zaragoza 145 km, Barcelona 446 km, Madrid 460 km

Altitude

1115 m (Monasterio Viejo) y 1212 m (Monasterio Nuevo)

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