Founded in 1180 this was originally a convent for noble cistercian sisters. From the outside it is very austere but is a splendid visit. Although the church was undergoing work when I was there I was most impressed by the wooden flooring. Unfortunately photography is prohibited inside, including the lovely cloisters. A real disappointment. The visits are guided and only in Spanish and costs 5 euros. Tickets are taken in the courtyard on the right hand side.
The name "Monasterio de las Huelgas" sounded somewhat odd to me as "huelga" in modern Spanish means strike (I had experienced a national huelga = general strike on a previous trip to Spain!). In the middle ages "huelgas" was meaning rest, leisure; before the monastery there was here a royal leisure residence from where the name.
The monastery was founded around the year 1180 by Alfonso VIII of Castile and his wife Leonor de Plantagenet and enjoyed from the start many royal privileges.
It was incorporated with the Cistercian Order and became the Kings' Pantheon as well as the retirement of great number of women belonging to the aristocracy.
As can be seen from my photo the monastery is austere from the outside but the content is up to its royal founders.
The sober Gothic church contains in the choir the tomb of Alfonso and Eleanor as well as many other persons of the royal family.
In the chapterhouse, which opens off one of the Romanesque cloisters, are a banner captured from the Moors in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and four Turkish standards taken in the battle of Lepanto (1571), as well as tapestries and various sacred objects.
St James's Chapel has a figure of the saint with a movable arm holding a sword. This is said to have been used for the knighting of royal personages, including the future king Edward I of England.
There is also a Museum of Fabrics renovated in 2008 which displays a unique collection of garments and fabrics found in sarcophagi in the church.
Tuesday - Saturday 10 - 13 h & 15.45 - 17.30 h
Sunday 10.30 - 14.00 h
Closed on Mondays and religious feasts.
Price: normal 5 € , guided visit (Spanish)
Reduced : 4€ groups with guide
Minimum : 2,50 € for students and seniors (>65) from the EU, guided visit.
Note: there is still a religious community at the monastery.
It's a cistercian monastery founded at the end of the 12th century by king Alfonso VIII. Inside the monastery there's a Royal Patheon where you can visit the Gothic tombs of king Alfonso VIII ans his wife Doña Leonor de Aquitania, King Enrique I, Queen Doña Berenguela, Prince Don Fernando de la Cerda and many other members of the royalty from the Crown of Castile.
Another interesting thing to see in Las Huelgas is "El pendón de las Navas de Tolosa", that is like a trophy taken from the moors in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.
This convent is also celebrated for the extraordinary privileges granted to its abbess by kings and popes.
There's also a museum of medieval textiles inside the monastery.
A bit away from the centre but not for this reason you have to stop visiting it. You can go walking, it won’t take you more than 20 minutues. From Santa Maria’s arch cross the bridge and take Merce’s street on the right. Walk all along and after some minutes you’ll see a sing indicating where the monestery is. It’s a very beautiful place.
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