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Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe

28 reviews of Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe

Santa María de Guadalupe Monastery

Guadalupe means “hidden river” and the name applies to the Virgin, the river, and a town of the same name. The legend dates back to the 8th century when a sheppard named Gil Cordero saw an apparition of the Virgin who led him to a spot where her image had been buried at the edge of the river. It had been buried there for over five centuries after clerics fleeing the Moorish invasion submerged it in the river to prevent it falling into enemy hands. A hermitage was built on the spot and a small community began to form around it. The first mention of the name came from 1340 when Alfonso XI granted the community a township and in 1347 uttered the phrase “the town located in Santa María de Guadalupe.” Today, the town has 2,500 inhabitants and daily life revolves the monastery.

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A mix of styles

The Monastery of Guadalupe (Cáceres, Extremadura) is a mix of various styles: gothic, mudejar, renaissance, baroque, and neoclassic. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.

The Virgin of Guadalupe’s image is hidden, in the Guadalupe river, which means “hidden river,” during the Muslim invasion. Centuries afterwards, the image was found by a countryman, Gil Cordero.

The image can be seen in the room where the treasures, gold cloaks, crowns, etc., are kept. It’s the room where all the Virgin’s accessories are located. You’re not allowed to take pictures on the inside but you have to see it in person. It leaves you with a strange sensation, almost the same feeling you have while visiting the Vatican, only on a smaller scale.

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Pilgrims in the Sierra

A procession for the Virgin of Guadalupe is held on the 8th of September after mass, as she’s the patron saint of Extremadura. During the procession, you’ll see men and women of all ages on their knees in from of the Virgin’s image, giving thanks for an act they think she helped them with.

The monastery is cared for by the Franciscan capuchins that look after it.

The temple, which was later converted into a Basilica, is open all day long for the hundreds of religious pilgrims that pass by daily following the 13 different walking paths from the town.


Impressive stone façade

The small fountain in the plaza inadvertantly heads towards the impressive 14th century Saint Mary of Guadalupe basilica. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.

The basilica houses, in the room located in the center of the alter, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Extremadura and queen of the America, a carving/engraving from the 12th century.

It’s interesting that people pray to the image of the Virgin inside the Basilica, even though she “has her back turned” to them, which is pretty unusual. This is due to the fact that the winding chamber lets the visitors see the image of the Virgin up close. They can see her brown face, which pertains to the group of 12th century Black Virgins from West Europe.

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