Monasteries in Spain

Saint Mary of Parral Monastery

Monastery of Saint Mary of Parral is a Roman Catholic monastery of the enclosed monks of the Order of Saint Jerome just outside the walls of Segovia. It was founded by King Henry IV of Castile, who acquired the lands before he became king in 1454. Despite a generally irreligious life, Henry IV maintained connections with the Hieronymites and was buried in the sister-house of Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe. In ...
Founded: 1454 | Location: Segovia, Spain

Monastery of Santa María de Huerta

Monastery of Santa María de Huerta foundation was made by the king Alfonso VII of León and Castile, in fulfilment of a promise he made in the siege of Coria. For this project, the king brought in 1142, from the abbey of Berdoues in Gascony (France), a community of Cistercian monks, with their abbot Rodulfo. The monastery ransfer to the lands near the Jalón river in 1162. Alfonso VII of León and Castile l ...
Founded: 1179 | Location: Santa María de Huerta, Spain

San Pablo Monastery

In 1324, Infante Don Juan Manuel erected the contemporary Gothic-Mudejar convent, where he was subsequently buried, in what was once a fortress built by Alfonso X, the Wise. This emblematic monument was declared a Heritage of Cultural Interest in 1931 and can currently be visited on a free or guided tour. This Heritage of Cultural Interest boasts a façade with exuberant brick arches, made in the Gothic-Mudejar style, wh ...
Founded: 1324 | Location: Peñafiel, Spain

Monastery of San Salvador de Oña

San Salvador de Oña monastery was founded by Sancho García, the Count of Castile, for his daughter Tigridia, as a double monastery in 1011. The nuns came from the Monastery of San Juan in Cillaperlata, while the monks were from the Monastery of San Salvador in Loberuela. In October 1033, King Sancho III of Navarre gave the monastery to the Abbey of Cluny, by which it became a part of the largest monastic organizatio ...
Founded: 1011 | Location: Oña, Spain

San Pedro de Cardeña Monastery

San Pedro de Cardeña Monastery was founded before 902. The prosperity of the monastery in the early medieval period is reflected in the quality of its scriptorium, in which the monk Endura performed extraordinary works. The Blessed of San Pedro de Cardeña was made between 1175 and 1180, has 290 pages and 51 miniatures. The convent church dates from the 16th century; annexed is the Capilla del Cid, where the hero and ...
Founded: c. 902 AD | Location: San Pedro de Cardeña, Spain

Convento de San José

The Convento de San José is a monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns in Ávila. It is situated not far from the center of the city but outside the medieval walls. Saint Teresa of Jesus was the driving force behind the foundation of the monastery, which was built from 1562 onwards. The statue in the facade was commissioned by King Philip III of Spain via artist Giraldo de Merlo. In 25 August 1963, Pope Paul VI ...
Founded: 1562 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Santa Clara Monastery

Santa Clara Monastery was founded by Don Sancho Sanchez de Velasco and his wife Doña Sancha García in 1313. Throughout the centuries almost all members of the Velasco family were buried there. The Gothic church has a single nave and is divided into side chapels. The High Altar has three altarpieces bathed in gold in the Rococo style. The museum shows the works of art and relics of the monastery, most donated by the fa ...
Founded: 1313 | Location: Medina de Pomar, Spain

Rioseco Abbey

Rioseco is a former Cistercian abbey situated in the Valle de Manzanedo, near the River Ebro. In 1148 the Cistercian Valbuena Abbey, of the filiation of Morimond, founded a daughter house in a small former hermitage in Quintanajuar, in the Páramo de Masa. In 1171 this new community received as a gift from the heirs of the nobleman Martino Martini de Uizozes the ancient monastery of Rioseco, the previous history ...
Founded: c. 1204 | Location: Valle de Manzanedo, Spain

Valbuena Abbey

Valbuena Abbey was founded in 1143 by Estefanía, daughter of Count Ermengol V of Urgell, and settled from Berdoues Abbey in France, of the filiation of Morimond. Valbuena received a number of privileges shortly after its foundation, and flourished to the point where it was able to settle three daughter houses of its own.  In the 14th century a decline set in. Valbuena remained a daughter house of Berdoues until 1430, w ...
Founded: 1143 | Location: Valbuena de Duero, Spain

Moreruela Abbey

Moreruela Abbey is situated to the west of Granja de Moreruela, about 35 kilometres north of the town of Zamora close to the left bank of the Esla, a tributary of the Duero. Before the time of the Cistercians, a monastery of the Benedictines already stood on the site, founded for them either by the Asturian King Alfonso III or by Saint Froilan, which under the patronage of Alfonso VII the Cistercians took o ...
Founded: c. 1131 | Location: Granja de Moreruela, Spain

Santa Ana Monastery

Santa Ana Monastery was founded in 1350. Only some parts remain from the original monastery, current buildings where mainly built in the 17th century.
Founded: 1350 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Monastery of San Miguel de Escalada

San Miguel de Escalada is located 10 km from the Way of St. James pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The building is an example of Mozarabic art and architecture or Repoblación art and architecture. An inscription that has disappeared but was published by Father Risco in 1786 gave information about the church"s consecration in 951 by Bishop Genadio of Astorga, around the time of the founding of the ...
Founded: 951 AD | Location: Villamondrin de Rueda, Spain

Monastery of La Encarnación

The Monastery of La Encarnación was founded inside the town's walls in 1478, and as a Carmelite convent it was moved to outside the town in the 16th century. The new monastery was built on land that had been acquired by the Council on what had previously been a Jewish cemetery. On 4 April 1515, the date on which the saint was baptised, the unfinished monastery was opened with four naves enclosing a central courtyard and ...
Founded: 1478 | Location: Ávila, Spain

Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza

San Pedro de Arlanza is a ruined Benedictine monastery located in the valley of the river Arlanza in Hortigüela, Burgos. Founded in 912, it has been called the 'cradle of Castile' (cuna de Castilla). It was abandoned in 1841 during the confiscations the government of Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, when ecclesiastical properties were roundly redistributed. San Pedro"s two purported founding documents, preser ...
Founded: 912 AD | Location: Hortigüela, Spain

Santa María de Gradefes

Founded in 1168, the building of the Santa María de Gradefes Church, according to an engraving on the northern lower wall, began on March 1st, 1177 under the patronage of the woman who became its Abbess -Teresa Pérez, widow of García Pérez, a knight of Alfonso VII. The first community was made up of Cistercian nuns who came from the monastery of Tulebras, Navarra. It became an important and privileged female monastery ...
Founded: 1168 | Location: Gradefes, Spain

Santa María de La Vid Monastery

Santa María de La Vid is a monastery in Spain"s Duero Valley was founded on a different site, a place called Montesacro, in about 1146 by Domingo Gómez, illegitimate son of Queen Urraca of León and Castile and her lover Count Gómez González de Candespina. Domingo had become interested in the Praemonstratensian order on a visit to France, and this was the first Praemonstratensian house in Spain. The monastery wa ...
Founded: 1152 | Location: La Vid y Barrios, Spain

Royal Convent of Santa Clara

The Santa Clara buildings were originally built by King Alfonso XI as his palace in 1344. His son Peter the Cruel had it embellished by Mudéjar artists, beautiful works at Santa Clara, though on a much smaller scale than they did in the Alcázar of Seville. The facade, a lovely small patio, a chapel and the baths remain of Peter the Cruel"s palace. Blanche de Bourbon was held here after her abandonment by Pe ...
Founded: 1344 | Location: Tordesillas, Spain

San Pedro de las Dueñas Monastery

Monastery of San Pedro de las Dueñas was built in the late 10th century and beginning of the 11th century. It is one of the most representative churches of Mudejar Romanesque in its Pre-classical period, began in stone and finished in brick (1087 and 1110) and Basilical ground plan. Over the presbytery of the chancel stands a brick tower, it is square with progressively decreasing sections.There is an interesting collec ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: San Pedro de las Dueñas, Spain

San Miguel de Las Dueñas

Monastery of San Miguel de Las Dueñas founded in the 10th century and renovated in the late 12th century under the Cistercian rule. Its original name was San Miguel de Almázcara. A Romanesque portal gives way to the chapterhouse. The 17th century church houses a Baroque altarpiece and the renowned reliquary of the choir. There are two cloisters, the Claustro del Palacio (17th century) and a Neoclassical one.
Founded: 10th century | Location: San Miguel de las Dueñas, Spain

Santo Domingo de Guzman Convent

The town of Caleruega is the birthplace of Saint Dominic of Guzmán, one of Europe’s master evangelists. The monastery boasts an archive holding the records of various royal privileges, donations of the foundation, the ordination of several Masters of the Order and papal bulls, etc., dating back to the 13th century and whose excellent state of conservation is attributable to the painstaking care and attention provided b ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Caleruega, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.