The Monastery of Guadalupe is a religious architectural marvel whose history spans 4 centuries. It is a religious symbol that represents 2 events that would shape the world’s religious scene for generations.
The events happened in 1492 and include – the expulsion of Muslim power from the Iberian Peninsula and the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. The image of Virgin Mary would also become the most recognized symbol of Christianization in the New World.
Principally the center for the Order of St. Jerome, the monastery has had a lot of influence in Spain. It was closely associated with the Spanish Crown, and in particular the Catholic Kings who ruled Spain after they conquered Granada and Christopher discovered America.
The monastery has been a center of pilgrimage, and it still is. Its scriptorium, hospitals, library and medical school has put it on a pedestal spot as one of the most important Spanish cultural centers. It is also richly decorated by artists such as Francisco de Zurbaran, Luca Giordino and Juan de Sevilla among others.
The monastery is situated on a site of alluring beauty. It overlooks the valley surrounded by majestic mountains – with the most notable being Villuercas.
In the twilight years of the 13th century, a Carceras shepherd discovered a statue of Virgin Mary that had been buried by the Seville Christians in 714 as they ran from Moorish invaders. The Shepherd would construct a chapel to house the statue and a few years later, it would be enlarged to become a church. In 1337, under the instructions of Alfonso XI who had visited the church severally, the virgin's statute, then christened as ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’, was given royal protection. After the king prevailed in the Battle of Salado in 1340, the king declared the church a royal sanctuary.
For a period of 447 years, the Hieronimite Order used the monastery and became the most important Christendom in Spain. The order only passed over the responsibility over the monastery to the Archdiocese of Toledo in 1835, which further handed it over to the Franciscan Order in 1908.
Main attractions within the complex
The Monastery of Guadalupe is representative of the Spanish chequered religious history. It symbolizes the Islamic and Christian Spain in equal measure. Perhaps you should spend a few hours exploring this great monastery during your holiday in Spain.