Monasteries in Spain

Sobrado Abbey

Sobrado Abbey was founded in 952 by Count Hermenegildo Alóitez and his wife Paterna. In 958, the founders transferred the county of Présaras to the monastery and, in that same year, Hermenegildo retired there where he lived as a monk the rest of his life and where he was buried. The abbey was inherited by his descendants and nearly two centuries later, in January 1142, the brothers Fernando and Bermudo Pérez, two of th ...
Founded: 952 AD | Location: Sobrado, Spain

San Esteban Monastery

The monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil is one of the most prominent and spectacular of the rich monumental heritage of Galicia. It was built between the 12th and 18th centuries. According to most ancient tradition, Santo Estevo was founded in the 6th century by Saint Martín Dumiense. With the privilege of Ordoño II, issued on 12th October of the year 921, the documented history about this monastery begins. The K ...
Founded: 921 AD | Location: Nogueira de Ramuín, 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

Monastery of San Vicente do Pino

Above the plain of Monforte de Lemos rises a small hill which overlooks its entire expanse. This was the site chosen in the 10th century for building what would subsequently become the current monastery. It is also said that this was the location for the well-known Castrum Dactonium, of the Celtic Lemavos tribe, mentioned by the historians Ptolemy and Pliny the Elder. Construction of the current San Vicente del Pino mona ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Monforte de Lemos, 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 Poio Monastery

Mercedarian monastery of San Juan de Poio was built in the 17th century and reflects the taste for combining Classicist and Baroque styles. The first document of the monastery on the site is however much older, dating from 942 AD. Inside, there is a splendid retable from the 18th century, in Churrigueresque style, and the tomb of St. Trahamunda is in the left-hand aisle (much venerated in the district). The procession cl ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Poio, 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

Monastery of Santa María de Oseira

Monastery of Santa María de Oseira became a monastery of the Cistercian order in 1141, an order of French monks sent by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. The monks left in 1835 forced to leave by the government policies, abandoning it. They returned in 1929, this time being a community of Cistercians of the Strict Reform - commonly called Trappists. The monastery is popular stopping point on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compo ...
Founded: 1137-1141 | Location: San Cristovo de Cea, Spain

Monastery of San Salvador de Celanova

The monastery of San Salvador de Celanova was founded by St. Rudesind (San Rosendo) in 936. The jewel of the complex is the small mozarabic chapel of San Miguel, dating from 942. In the garden is one of the oldest chapels in Spain, built before 973. In the abbey church are the ancient sepulchres of Ilduara and Adosinda, the mother and sister of the founder, who was buried in a sepulchre supported on four pillars, and con ...
Founded: 936 AD | Location: Celanova, Spain

Carboeiro Monastery

The Monastery of San Lorenzo de Carboeiro is one of the most outstanding architectural works of the late Romanesque, the transition to the Gothic, in Galicia. Its gestation was founded in the year 939 AD. When the construction was completed, the priest Felix was chosen as the first abbot of the community. Its moments of greatest splendor were between 11th and 13th centuries. Abbot Fernando, from 1162 to 1192, expanded t ...
Founded: 936 AD | Location: Silleda, 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

Convent of San Francisco

In the 14th century, after the fire that destroyed the first Franciscan convent in Ourense (located in the current Mayor’s Square), the order moved to this place on the side of Montealegre Hill, where they remained until the 19th century. In 1843 the old convent was transformed into infantry headquarters (until its closure in 1984), producing numerous reforms. The most significant of them was the move of the apse and fr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ourense, Spain

Santa María da Armenteira Monastery

Santa María da Armenteira Monastery belongs to the Cistercian order and was founded by the knight Ero de Armenteira in 1168. It has a square cloister, a kitchen, and a tower, all in the 18th-century Baroque style. The monastery was abandoned after the sale of church lands in 1835. The church has a floor plan in the shape of a Latin cross, three naves and three semicircular apses. The central nave is crowned with a pointe ...
Founded: 1168 | Location: Meis, 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 Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil

The Benedictine monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil has its origin in the 10th century. It was first an independent monastery and after the improvements in the 16th century, it remains today as a priory dependent on the monastery of San Esteban de Ribas de Sil. At this time the cloister was improved and the paintings in the church were made. It was one of the most important monasteries of the Ribeira Sacra during ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Parada de Sil, 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

Santa Paula Convent

Seville has many enclosed religious complexes, but few are accessible. This is one of them, a convent set up in 1475 and still home to 40 nuns. The public is welcome to enter through two different doors in the Calle Santa Paula. Knock on the brown one, marked number 11 to look at the convent museum. Steps lead to two galleries, crammed with religious paintings and artifacts. The windows of the second look onto the nuns&qu ...
Founded: 1475 | Location: Seville, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.