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

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

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

San Juan de Ortega Monastery

San Juan de Ortega Monastery was probably built by Saint John of Ortega himself, with the help of his friend and fellow saint, Domingo de la Calzada, around 1142 as a help point to the pilgrims who walked to Santiago de Compostela along the Way of Saint James. The monastery was originally staffed by a community of Augustinian canons. The monastery belonged to the Order of Los Jerónimos from 1432 until the 1835, when the ...
Founded: 1142 | Location: Barrios de Colina, Spain

Monastery of El Paular

The Monasterio de Santa María de El Paular is a former Carthusian monastery. Construction is believed to have begun in 1390 by orders of Henry II of Castile, and construction proceeded for fifty years under his son, John I of Castile. It was sited where an old chapel stood. Supposedly he was spurred to this project due to his plundering of a chartreuse during a campaign in France. This was the first chartreuse i ...
Founded: 1390 | Location: Rascafría, Spain

Carracedo Monastery

The Monastery of Saint Mary of Carracedo is an inactive abbey and palace complex, now in semi-restored state near the town of Carracedelo. Founded in the tenth century by the Benedictine order, it lies near the Way of Santiago in Northern Spain. The first cenobitic community, the Monastery of San Salvador, was founded here around the year 990 by Bermudo II, King of the Kingdom of León and the Kingdom of Galic ...
Founded: c. 990 AD | Location: Carracedelo, Spain

Monastery of San Antón

There were formerly a palace and garden of King Pedro I of Castile as well as the ruins of the old monastery of San Antón. It was dedicated to taking care of the sick people on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. At present, only the arch remains standing.
Founded: 1146 | Location: Castrojeriz, Spain

Monastery of Santa María la Real

From the 12th century the Monastery of Santa María la Real was the home of a Premonstratensian community. The architecture is in a transitional style between Romanesque and Gothic. The monastery was closed in the 19th century as a result of the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal. The buildings fell into ruin and in 1871 various capitals (dated circa 1200) were removed to the National Archaeological Museum ...
Founded: 1169 | Location: Aguilar de Campoo, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.