Monasteries in Spain

Convento de Santa Dorotea

The Convento de Santa Dorotea is an Augustinian nun"s convent in Burgos. It is a Gothic construction, and dates back to 1387, when Dorotea Rodriguez Valderrama, along with other devout women formed a nun"s community at the old church of Santa Maria la Blanca. The community adopted the rule of St. Augustine in 1429 with the support of Bishop Pablo de Santamaría. In 1457 they moved to the church of San Andrés, u ...
Founded: 1387 | Location: Burgos, Spain

Santa María de Sandoval Monastery

Santa María de Sandoval Monastery was built on land donated in 1142 by Alfonso VII to Count Pedro Ponce de Minerva and his wife Estefanía Ramírez. After receiving numerous donations and possessing extensive territories, it entered decadence in the fifteenth century. In 1592 and 1615 it was grass of the flames, reason for which it had to be rebuilt. The permanence of the monks remained until 1835, date in which the exc ...
Founded: 1142 | Location: Mansilla Mayor, Spain

San Pedro de Eslonza Monastery

The Monastery of San Pedro de Eslonza is a former Benedictine monastery in Gradefes. Today in ruins, it was once the second most important monastery in the province, after the monastery of San Benito in Sahagún. It was founded in 912 by King García I of León, but was destroyed by the Moorish ruler Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 988; it was therefore rebuilt in 1099 by the Urraca of Zamora, daughter of Ferdinand I ...
Founded: 912 AD | Location: Gradefes, Spain

The Abbey / La Abadia

The Abbey of Eskirotz and Ilarratz is on the World Heritage route of Santiago de Compostela in Spain at the foot of the Pyrenees. The parish church is known as the Church of St. Lucy (Santa Lucia), but collectively the buildings are listed as The Abbey of Eskirotz and Ilarratz (La Abadia de Eskirotz y Ilarratz). The Way of St. James or Camino de Santiago passes directly alongside the church. The building is one of some ...
Founded: Middle Ages | Location: Ilárraz, Spain

Benevívere Monastery

The Abbey of Santa Maria de Benevívere was ordered to be built in the twelfth century by Don Diego Martínez de Villamayor. He was a Castilian noble from the house of the counts of Bureba, who was very influential at court. He was the advisor of Alfonso VII and Sancho III, and treasurer of Alfonso VIII. After losing his wife he decided to retire and devote himself to the contemplative life. He laid the foundation of the ...
Founded: 1169 | Location: Carrión de los Condes, Spain

Santa Maria De Budejo Monastery

Santa María de Bujedo Monastery was probably founded between  1159-1172. The oldest documentary evidence confirming the existence of the monastery dates from 1182. It was confiscated in 1835. The church, built in the first half of the 13th century, has a Latin cross plan with a single nave. There are some remains left of the original monastery buildings dating to the the 13th century. Seven double capitals and four bas ...
Founded: c. 1159 | Location: Santa Cruz de Juarros, Spain

Monastery of Santa Clara

Monastery of Santa Clara is presided by nuns of the order of the Poor Clares. It was founded in 1358, but ruined in war in 1458. In 1460 the buildings were repaired and church rebuilt. During the War of Independence, the community was forced to leave the monastery, which suffered pillage and destruction by French troops. The church was built in Gothic style. It has Baroque style altarpieces from the 17th century, as we ...
Founded: 1358 | Location: Belorado, Spain

San Miguel del Monte Monastery

The monastery of San Miguel del Monte was founded at the end of the 14th century and built mainly between the 15th and 16th centuries in a Gothic-Renaissance style. Only the ruins of the church and part of the cloister remain of the old buildings. The rest of the site was reused in the 20th century to create a nursing home.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Miranda de Ebro, Spain

Santa María la Real de Vileña Monastery

Santa María la Real de Vileña Monastery was founded by Queen Urraca López de Haro, widow of King Fernando II of León in 1222. The monastery reached its highest prosperity in the 16th century. From that time dates the altarpiece made by Pedro López de Gámiz. After a fire in May 1970 that destroyed the monastery, the nuns moved to a new building in the town of Villarcayo.
Founded: 1222 | Location: Vileña, 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.