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Santa Maria de Guadalupe, Caseres, Spain

The Royal Monastery Santa Maria de Guadalupe (Spa: Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe) is considered to be one of the major monuments of the Spanish religious architecture. It comprises all styles of religious architecture of four centuries, which were harmoniously intertwined in one complex. The history of foundation of the monastery is symbolic. According to the legend, in 13th century, a shepherd named Gil Cordero found a statue of the Blessed Virgin not far from the bank of river Guadalupe. It is considered that in the 8th century the statue has been hidden from Moorish invaders. On the place of godsend local inhabitants built a chapel in honor of Blessed Virgin Mary. The chapel was repeatedly visited by the king Alfonso XI. During one of the battles he asked Saint Virgin for help and gained the victory. In acknowledgement of the divine help of Virgin he declared the chapel a royal sanctuary and in 1340 began rebuilding the monastery complex. In 1389 Hieronymite monks took the power in their hands and made the monastery their principal house and construction works were further carried under the aegis of their first prior. In 1474 Henry IV of Castile was entombed here. In XIV century there were schools of grammar and medicine, hospitals, a drugstore and one of the greatest libraries of Spain. The monastery is a symbol of two considerable events which have occurred in 1492 - liberation of Iberian Peninsula by Catholic kings and discovering America by Columbus, who gave here his first thanks to higher forces for this discovery. In 1808 the monastery was robbed and destroyed by Napoleon's army. It was revived in the XX century by the Franciscan Order.

Despite that the architecture of the monastery developed during centuries, in the complex still dominates the main church, which was built by Alfonso XI and his immediate successors in 14-15th centuries. The square chapel of Santa Catalina built in the 15th century is known for the 17th century made ornate tombs, and also constructed in that century the sacristy lavishly decorated with paintings of Francisco de Zurbaran. Behind sacristy, there is an octagonal Chapel of the Virgin (Spa: Camarin de la Virgen) made in Baroque style, with impressing chamber and nine paintings of Luca Giordano. Some other important painters in the monastery are El Greco, Francisco de Goya, Adrian Isenbrant and Juan Correa de Vivar, amongst other. In fact the monastery is a real sanctuary of Art.

In 1993 the monastery Santa Maria de Guadalupe was placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

By Ruzanna Mkrtchyan,


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