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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Santa Maria de Guadalupe
Friday, May 24, 2019



The Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe is a magnificent display of religious architecture spanning four centuries, symbolising two significant events in world history that both occurred in the same year, 1492: the final expulsion of the Muslim power from the Iberian Peninsula and the discovery of America by Columbus. Its famous image of the Virgin also became the pre-eminent symbol of the Christianisation of the New World and later the Basilica of Guadalupe was built in Mexico in her honour, becoming commonly known as the Queen of Mexico and the Empress of America. 


The Monastery, the principal of the Order of St Jerome, played a very influential role in the history of Spain, being associated by the crown with important events, notably by the Catholic Kings (Los Reyes Católicos ) with the conquest of Granada and the discovery of America in 1492. The Monastery was, and remains a centre of pilgrimage. It was a cultural centre of the highest order: its hospitals and its medical school were renowned, as was its scriptorium and its library, containing a very rich collection of documents. Many famous artists were attracted to Guadalupe, including Juan de Sevilla, Francisco de Zurbarán, Vicente Carducho, and Luca Giordano.

 The harmony between the buildings, which occupy 20,000m2 and the classic works of art that it contains within the monastery and its museum, make it an outstanding example of Spanish history. The site is one of great beauty, overlooking a valley surrounded by high mountains, notably the Villuercas, and containing abundant vegetation.

At at the end of the13th century, a Cáceres shepherd discovered close to the River Guadalupe a statue of the Virgin Mary that had been buried by Christians from Seville around 714 when fleeing before the Moorish invaders. The shepherd built a chapel to house the statue. A few years later it became a church, enlarged in 1337 by command of Alfonso XI, who visited it on several occasions. This king invoked the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the battle of Salado in 1340 and, following his victory, declared the church a royal sanctuary, founding a secular priory there. For 447 years under the Hieronimite Order, the monastery was the most important in Spain and one of the most famous in the Christian world. In 1835 the order passed responsibility to the Archdiocese of Toledo, which handed it over to the Franciscan order in 1908.


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