On September 16, 893, in the beautiful place known as Boiges (current-day Puelles), next to the small Asta River, a new church was erected in honor of San Salvador. To understand the importance of the moment, it should be noted that no less than seven bishops participated in the concelebration.
In that isolated place sheltered by a beautiful forest but easily accessible by sea—the Villaviciosa Estuary was navigable at the time—Alfonso III the Great would spent his forced retirement after being deposed in 909 by his three sons, García, Ordoño, and Fruela. Therefore, the church was accompanied by a palace about which practically nothing is known today.
In the year 1200, King Alfonso IX and his wife Berenguela acquired the property, and on November 27 in Santiago de Compostela, the charter for a monastic community was signed and the monastery came to be called Valdediós (Valle de Dios, meaning “Valley of God”). The White Monks, who always settled in secluded places, customarily evoked divinity directly, even with the names of the settlements they founded.
The first monks to populate the place came from the Galician locality of Sobrado, and starting in the 13th century they accumulated royal privileges and possessions. To build the great medieval monastery, they had to alter the course of the river and finished construction in 1225.
As with all buildings of its age, the monastery has suffered many hardships. The worst fires occurred in the 13th, 14th, and 16th centuries. In 1522, after coming under direct control of the Cistercian Congregation of Valladolid, there was a flood that left only the church standing, requiring serious reconstruction. The renovations were interrupted in 1590 by the arrival of a plague that depopulated the monastery, leaving one monk and the abbot as the only survivors. On August 14, 1691, the church was flooded by waters three meters high due to a second devastating rise in the level of the river.
Valdediós in the early 20th century
In 1810, Valdediós was plundered by Napoleonic troops, and in 1835, it was secularized due to the ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizábal. In 1843, an individual acquired the property for 891,300 reales and it was converted into a seminary and school.
During the war of 1936, psychiatric patients from the evacuated Oviedo Hospital were able to stay in the monastery until October 27, 1937, when Carlist troops arrived and killed 17 members of the staff, 11 of which were women. The reason behind the massacre remains unknown.
In 1986, a comprehensive restoration plan was undertaken and it regained its monastic function until 2009, when the Cistercian community was dissolved and the Community of St. John came in, but abandoned the monastery in 2012 due to their inability to assume the costs.
Valdediós currently functions as a hostel.