Monasteries in 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

Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Gracia

Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Gracia was originally founded in the old district of “La Villa” in the early 16th century but because of its small size and poor condition, the monastery was moved to the current location named “de la Concepción”. As the statute of our lady of Grace was ancient and was donated by the Catholic Monarchs, the convent’s name was changed to the name we know today. The current Monaste ...
Founded: 1555 | Location: Vélez-Málaga, Spain

Monastery of San Pedro de Rocas

Monastery of San Pedro de Rocas, which is unique due to the fact that it is excavated in the natural rock, displays none of the delicate Gothic structures nor the harmonious proportions of the Renaissance style. It is a very ancient, rough, almost primitive construction, which witnessed the first hermit settlements in the area. The historical value of San Pedro de Rocas (St. Peter of the Rocks) is more anthropological th ...
Founded: 573 AD | Location: Esgos, 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

Jerez de la Frontera Charterhouse

The Charterhouse of Jerez de la Frontera architecture is of a Late Gothic style, corresponding to the start of construction in the 15th century, with Baroque aspects dating from the 17th century. The building, completed in the 17th century, has been designated by the Spanish government as an Historic-Artistic Monument. The impulse behind the monastery dates back to Alvaro Obertos de Valeto, a knight of Genovese descen ...
Founded: 1475 | Location: Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

San Jerónimo de Valparaíso Monastery

On the hills above the amazing Medina Azahara, nestling in the mountains of Córdoba and surrounded by native Mediterranean vegetation, stands this impressive 15th century monastery. It was originally Gothic in style, although different reforms in Renaissance and Baroque style have added a wealth of interesting details to the building. The owners, the Marquises of El Mérito, have done a great job over several generation ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Córdoba, Spain

San Isidoro del Campo Monastery

Located in Santiponce, the Monasterio de San Isidoro del Campo was founded somewhere near the Roman ruins of Itálica, by Alfonso Pérez de Guzmán and María Coronel Alonso in 1301, where according to tradition San Isidoro de Sevilla had been buried. His remains were discovered and moved to León in 1063. Since its foundation, the monastery has been under the spiritual and temporary administration of different reli ...
Founded: 1301 | Location: Santiponce, Spain

Monastery of San Paio de Abeleda

The Monastery of San Paio de Abeleda is a medieval monastery built in the 12th century located 2 km from Abeleda village. Today found in a state of ruins, it was originally one of the most influential monastic centres in the province and was converted into an abbey surviving until the 19th century Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal. It was acquired by the House of Alba in 1872. The church was built in the Roman ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Castro Caldelas, Spain

Monastery of Santa María de Meira

Monastery of Santa María de Meira was established probably in the 12th century. Today only the medieval church exists, it was consecrated in 1258.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Meira, 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

Monastery of St. Clare of Moguer

The Monastery of Santa Clara in Moguer is one of the most important examples of the mudejar architecture in occidental Andalusia. It was founded in 1337 by Sir Alonso Jofre Tenorio, an Admiral from Castile and his wife Lady Elvira Álvarez. It was a donation from Alfonso XI in 1333. It was for Franciscan- Clarisa Nuns. The monastery was built in a place next to the villa called “Santa Clara Country”, which was integr ...
Founded: 1337 | Location: Moguer, 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

San Salvador de Lérez Monastery

The Monastery of San Salvador or San Benito de Lérez was founded in the 10th century by Benedictine monks. The present church is Neo-Classical with an 18th-century Baroque façade, where the image of St. Benedict can be seen in a niche. Adjoining the southern wall, one wing of the 16th-century cloister is still standing. Some of the blocks in this wall show tomb engravings and Roman inscriptions, dating from the original ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Pontevedra, Spain

San Francisco Monastery

The convent of San Francisco was built during the 15th century to 18th century in Renaissance and Baroque style. Today it contains the Municipal Historical Archives and Iberoamerican Library.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Moguer, Spain

Santo Domingo Monastery

Santo Domingo Monastery in Archidona was founded in 1531 by the count of Ureña. The Renaissance style building is today used as a school.
Founded: 1531 | Location: Archidona, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.