Monday, December 13, 2010

The Royal Monastery of Santa María of Guadalupe, Extremadura {Part II of III}

Getting from Trujillo to Guadalupe took about 1hr 30min. Upon arriving at this rather famous yet remote destination, one can already see the prominent gem rising above the village.

The most iconic monument of Guadalupe, is none other than the Royal Monastery of Santa María {Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Spanish}, a shrine originating from the 13th century, dedicated to The Virgin of Guadalupe.

According to history, the Monastery owes its existence to a little carved statue of the Virgin Mary. Hidden by the Christians around 714 during the time of Moorish invasion, the statue was discovered centuries later by a shepherd whom the Virgin had appeared to. A chapel was then built at the site of discovery to house the statue.

Above: A bronze plaque outside the Monastery, inscribed with the text "Santa Maria de Guadalupe Patrona de Extremadura y Reina de las Españas"

The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe was associated with two very important events in Spanish history which both happened in 1492 – The Spanish Reconquista and the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus (whose expedition was supported by the Catholic Monarchs, King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella). Her intercession was believed to have led to the favourable proceedings in both endeavours.

Above & below: The external façade of the Monastery.

Within the ensemble of buildings, there exist a unique combination of architectural styles ranging from Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Classical.

The chapel had since evolved into the huge monastery complex that it is today, visited as a pilgrimage center and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Above: The plaza outside the Monastery.

Above: The altar of the Church.

Above: The nave of the Church.

Apart from the church which does not require a ticket to enter, the rest of the Monastery is only accessible with a ticket and accompanied guide (and unfortunately, no photography is allowed!).

The guided tour consists of a walk through the various museums, sacristry and chapels, and of course, the chance to see the much venerated Black Madonna statue up close.

Above: The Mudejar shrine in the center of the courtyard.

Above: The series of paintings along the cloister which supposedly tells the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

With not very much else to explore in Guadalupe, I proceeded to another location, just to check out some Roman ruins...

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