Monastery of Santa María de Huerta

Santa María de Huerta, Spain

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).

Architecture

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.

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Details

Founded: 1179
Category: Religious sites in Spain

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Evaristo Vazquez (3 years ago)
Awesome abbey. A must you can't miss between Zaragoza and Madrid.
Elen Ar (5 years ago)
No pudimos entrar porque estaba ya cerrado. Paramos a dormir en el pueblo con la furgoneta, una zona para autocaravanas tranquila y bien de precio (3€ la noche). Pero también muy básica, solo cuenta con una arqueta para vaciar el wc y un grifo de agua potable. Lo podéis ver en la foto. Estábamos solos ese día
dorota nowak-maluchnik (5 years ago)
Beautiful places.
Scott Brown (6 years ago)
I saw the monastery from the highway and decided to stop. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of this monastery. A few things I enjoyed the most were; -Design of the monastery -Classic religious statues/paintings -Courtyard in the center -Model of the monastery -Ability to roam and take photos It is very well clean, well maintained, and has a gift shop with reasonable prices. It’s much better to stretch your legs for a break of driving than a rest stop on A2.
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