Monasteries in Spain

Convent of Las Descalzas Reales

The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, literally the 'Monastery of the Royal Barefooted', resides in the former palace of Emperor Charles V and Empress Isabel of Portugal. Their daughter, Joanna of Austria, founded this convent of nuns of the Poor Clare order in 1559. Throughout the remainder of the 16th century and into the 17th century, the convent attracted young widowed or spinster noblewomen. Each w ...
Founded: 1559 | Location: Madrid, Spain

Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes

The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes was founded by King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile to commemorate both the birth of their son, Prince John, and their victory at the Battle of Toro (1476) over the army of Afonso V of Portugal. Toledo was chosen as the site for building the monastery due to its central geographic location and because it had been the capital of the ancient Visigoth kin ...
Founded: 1477 | Location: Toledo, Spain

El Escorial

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as El Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain about 45 kilometres northwest of Madrid. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and has functioned as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university and hospital. El Escorial comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: the royal ...
Founded: 1563 | Location: San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

Convento de las Dueñas

The Convento de las Dueñas is a Dominican convent located in the city of Salamanca. The convent was founded in 1419 by Juana Rodriguez Maldonado in her own palace. The church and the cloister were built around 1533. The convent preserve same of the original mudejar gates of the palace. One of them leads to the cloister. The capitals of the uppeer story are among the more prominent examples of the Plateresque.
Founded: 1419 | Location: Salamanca, Spain

Convento de San Marcos

The Convento de San Marcos is today an operating luxury parador hotel. It also contains a consecrated church and museum, and is one of the most important monuments of the Renaissance in Spain. It is one of the greatest architectural jewels of León. It has a highly ornamental plateresque facade. The origins of this building lie in the twelfth century, in the days of Alfonso VII of León. His sister, the Infanta Sa ...
Founded: 1514 | Location: León, Spain

Convento de San Esteban

Convento de San Esteban is a Dominican monastery situated in the Plaza del Concilio de Trento. The Dominicans settled in Salamanca in about 1255, but their original monastery was demolished to construct the parish church of St. Stephen in 1524, at the initiative of Cardinal Juan Álvarez de Toledo. Construction took until 1610. Although the church is considered to be an excellent example of the Plateresque style, ...
Founded: 1524-1610 | Location: Salamanca, Spain

Monasterio de San Jerónimo

The Royal Monastery of St. Jerome is a Hieronymite monastery in Granada. Architecturally, it is in the Renaissance style. The church, famous for its architecture, was the first in the world consecrated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The monastery was founded by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in Santa Fe outside the city of Granada, during the siege of the latter city, ...
Founded: 1504 | Location: Granada, Spain

Monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas

The Monastery of Santa María de las Cuevas, also known as the Monastery of the Cartuja hosts today The Andalusian Contemporary Art Center (The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo). Legend holds that the area, in Moorish times, was honeycombed with caves made by potters for ovens and to obtain clay, and that after the capture of the city by Christians in the thirteenth century, an image of the virgin was revealed ins ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Seville, Spain

Santo Domingo de Silos

The monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos dates back to the Visigothic period of the 7th century. In the 10th century, the abbey was called San Sebastián de Silos, but acquired its current name when Santo Domingo was entrusted to renovate the abbey by Fernando the Great, King of Castile and León. The abbot designed the church to have a central nave with two side aisles and five chapels attached to its apse and ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain

Monastery of Saint Dominic of Silos

The Monastery of Saint Dominic of Silos (the Old) (Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos el Antiguo) is a Cistercian monastery in Toledo. It was first founded in the 6th century and rebuilt in 1085 by Pedro Alcocer during the reign of Alfonso VI of Leon and Castille. It underwent major rebuilding work in the second half of the 16th century, in which the mudéjar church was demolished. The new building was begun by Ni ...
Founded: 1085 | Location: Toledo, Spain

San Juan Monastery

Monasterio de San Juan was founded in 1091, when the kings Alfonso VI and Constance of Burgundy donated a small land to monk Lesmes, who came from the Chaise-Dieu abbey. In 1537 a fire destroyed practically the whole monastery. The reconstruction lasted until the confiscation. During the first half of the 19th century, several confiscations destroyed the heritage of the monastery and the hospital of San Juan. The monks ...
Founded: 1091 | Location: Burgos, Spain

Santuari de Lluc

The Santuari de Lluc is a monastery and pilgrimage site located in a basin on a height of 525 metres and is surrounded by a number of high mountains. The sanctuary was founded in the 13th century after a Moorish shepherd found a statue of the Virgin Mary on the site where the monastery was later erected. Lluc is considered to be the most important pilgrimage site on Majorca. It is also known for its boys" ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Escorca, Spain

Monastery of San Juan de Duero

Monastery of San Juan de Duero, built in the Romanesque style, consists of a single nave with a wooden roof, semicircular apse, and a pointed barrel vault. From the 12th century it belonged to the Knights Hospitaller of Jerusalem, until it was abandoned in the 18th century. The 12th century church and the 13th cloister, with Gothic and Mudéjar elements, are still standing.The arcades combine the various architectural sty ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Soria, Spain

Miraflores Charterhouse

Miraflores Charterhouse is an Isabelline style Carthusian monastery built on a hill (known as Miraflores) about three kilometers of the center of Burgos. Its origin dates back to 1442, when king John II of Castile donated a hunting lodge located outside city of Burgos, which had been erected by his father Henry III of Castile 'the Mourner' in 1401, to the Order of the Carthusians for its conversion int ...
Founded: 1442 | Location: Burgos, Spain

Sacromonte Monastery

The Abbey of El Sacromonte was founded in the 17th century. Under the church there are the catacombs where St. Cecilio, the first bishop and actual Patron of Granada, suffered martyrdom. The monument was designed by Juan de Maeda and finished in 1567. The front façade, by Pedro de Orea, is a magnificent example of the Renaissance period in Andalusia at the end of the 16th century.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Monastery of la Ascensión de Nuestro Señor

Monastery of la Ascensión de Nuestro Señor in Lerma was founded in 1604.
Founded: 1604 | Location: Lerma, Spain

Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas

The Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas is a monastery of Cistercian nuns located approximately 1.5 km west of the city of Burgos. Historically, the monastery has been the site of many weddings of royal families, both foreign and Spanish, including that of Edward I of England to Eleanor of Castile in 1254, for example. In 1187, Pope Clement III issued a papal bull authorising the founding of a ...
Founded: 1187 | Location: Burgos, Spain

Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

The Dominican Monastery of Santo Tomás was built under the patronage of Hernando Núñez de Arnalte (treasurer of the Catholic Monarchs), his wife, María Dávila, the Inquisitor Fray Tomás de Torquemada and the Catholic Monarchs. The work began in 1482 and was completed in 1493; however, at the Catholic Monarchs" initiative, a palace was built around the eastern cloister, together with the sepulchre of Prince Jua ...
Founded: 1482-1493 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Granada Charterhouse

Granada Charterhouse  is one of the finest examples of Spanish Baroque architecture. The charterhouse was founded in 1506; construction started ten years later, and continued for the following 300 years. While the exterior is a tame ember in comparison, the interior of the monastery"s is a flamboyant explosion of ornamentation. Its complex echoing geometric surfaces make of it one of the masterpieces of Churrigueres ...
Founded: 1506 | Location: Granada, Spain

San Zoilo Monastery

This Benedictine San Zoilo monastery is on Saint James"s Way. The most important part of the building is the Plateresque cloister (16th century), which is adorned with medallions and busts.
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Carrión de los Condes, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Erfurt Synagogue

The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Roman­esque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.

After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.