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 laid the first stone of this new construction on March 20 of 1179. It is believed that the works were made under the direction of the master of the cathedral of Sigüenza. They advanced very quickly thanks to the royal protection and the abundant donations.
In 1215, Martín Muñoz, mayordomo mayor of Henry I, nephew of the abbot Martin of Hinojosa, paid for the works of the refectory. In the 16th century he obtained aid and benefits from Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Philip II of Spain. Other constructions were built and the monastic complex enlarged.
In 1833, according to the Ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizábal, the monks were expelled and only the church remained as parish. Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, marquis of Cerralbo, made an exhaustive study of the entire monument, taking charge of making known the history and inventory of the works of art. Thanks to his work, this monastery could be saved from total ruin. In 1882 it was declared a national monument.
Since 1930, the monastery has been a community of monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (Trappists).
One of its most outstanding features is the Gothic cloister, although it also contains other interesting elements such as a 12th-century kitchen or an extraordinary refectory, which is considered to be a masterpiece of Cistercian art. This 12th-century refectory only has one nave, although it is very illuminated and presents oval-shaped vaults on the ceiling. Its originality is due to the open staircase on the wall that passes through arches until it reaches the pulpit. A horizontal window connects the refectory with the kitchen, which is divided into three naves with a great fireplace in the middle.
Other aspects worth mentioning are the Plateresque cloister of Los Caballeros or the keep which shows a strong Mudejar inspiration. The upper level of the cloister is decorated in a Renaissance style, with low arches decorated with medallions, and the lower floor still maintains its original monumental arches. For a modest fee, you can spend the night in this monastery and visit the church the next day.
The church has three naves and inside the most impressive pieces are the major altarpiece and the tombs and urns of the Finojosa family. On the western façade of the building, you can see the main entrance formed by a pointed arch with six archivolts decorated with various types of geometric motifs. Above the door is a massive and impressive rosette formed by four concentric circumferences that are decorated with diamonds and frame twelve tri-lobed arches. There is a Romanesque parlour from the 12th century that was built with many French characteristics and is separated into two naves which also have oval-shaped domes, like the refectory.References:
Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Kura River. The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church. Newly built in 1996–1997, it replaces the original 13th-century church that was destroyed in a fire. The new church is of 'prescribed cross' type, having doors on three sides. The internal part of the church is decorated with the frescos showing scenes both from the Bible and history of Georgia.
The fortress was established in the 4th century and it was a Persian citadel. It was considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later, by king David the Builder (1089–1125). Most of extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and demolished.