The village has two medieval quarters near the sanctuary.
The lower quarter with narrow streets and modest houses with archways.
The high quarter behind the monastery in the upper part of the village.
From these streets, often with flowers and fountains, there are nice views on the green hills surrounding Guadalupe.
Entrance is free by the Plaza.
The basilica is part of the monastery and only the central nave is open to the public.
From here one has a stunning view on the very high iron forged gate (begin 16th.c.) and behind the magnificent principal chapel (18th.c.) with the huge much decorated altarpiece in wood from Borneo containing the statue of the Black Virgin of Guadalupe.
Surprising is the fact that the statue can be turned towards the inside of the "Camarin" chapel and as such disappears from the church to appear again when the visitors inside the monastery have left the "Camarin".
On the opposite side is the choir with baroque stalls and three remarkable organs. The visit of this choir is part of the guided tour of the monastery.
The basilica is open from 8 am till 8 pm.
Nobody, pilgrim or tourist, goes to Guadalupe without visiting the monastery.
The visit is guided and in Spanish. The groups follow each other. Best is to come early before the arrival of the busses, or late when they have left.
We had the chance to have a guide for us alone. A kind guy who did his best to speak slowly and we did our best to understand his Spanish.
No photos are allowed what is a pity because some sculptures or cantor books with illuminations from 15th - 16th c. are splendid. The collection of religious embroideries is outstanding. Among the sculptures there are some exceptional works of Egas Cueman (Flemish school).
The sacristy is the most beautiful room of the monastery. There are eight paintings of the famous Sevillan painter Zurbaran. The visit continues with the St. Jerome chapel and the treasure room.
For the last part of the visit that of the "Camarin chapel" a Franciscan monk becomes the guide. He turns the statue normally visible from the church, but which is fixed on a turning platform, towards the visitors.
Open: 9.30am-1pm and 3.30-6.30pm.
General admission: €3 Reduced: 2.40 (over 65s); €1.50 (children 7-14 years). Free: children under 7 years.
Monasterio de Santa Maria de Guadalupe.
The sanctuary was developed by King Alfonso XI of Castile and Leon in the first half of the 14th. c. The king commemorated his victories on the Arabs by financing the enlargement of the monastery which expanded around the sanctuary. In 1389, the Hieronymite monks took over the monastery and made it their principal house until 1835.
The sanctuary of Guadalupe was the religious centre of the Spanish Colonial Empire. Before their voyages, Spain's explorers and sailors visited to pray for success and protection and on their returns they came to give thanks to the Virgin of Guadalupe who became the patron saint of the Americas.
A village established itself around the monastery already in the 14th.c. The contrast between the modest village houses and the rich monastery and sanctuary is still visible nowadays.
Santa Maria de Guadalupe remained the most important cloister in Spain until the secularization of monasteries in 1835. In the 20th century, the monastery was revived by the Franciscan Order and Pope Pius XII declared the shrine a "Minor Papal Basilica" in 1955.
In 1993 the Monastery was declared patrimony of the humanity.
The statue is in wood, probably from the 12th.c.
The Virgin is seated with the child on her knees. Her face is dark brown.
She is seated on a throne and magnificently dressed (like often the statues of the Virgin in Spain). Her crown and sceptre are sumptuous. I was told by the guide that the crown has as many carats of diamonds as the crown of England.
The treasure room near the sacristy has several dresses and crowns.
More surprising than all the jewels, gold and silver is her face, her expression and her eyes.
The legend of the Black Virgin of Guadalupe goes back as far as the 1st. c with St. Luc.
Later the statue was found in Constantinople in the 4th. c., went to Rome around 590 and from there to Seville. The statue was hidden at the invasion of the Arabs and disappeared until she was found at the end of the 13th.c. by a shepherd with other objects in the ground near the Guadalupe river.
As this happened in the period of the Reconquista it was considered as miraculous (compare with Santiago de Compostella) and an important sanctuary developed at Guadalupe.
Our Lady of Guadalupe became the Patronnes of Extremadura and Queen of all Spanish speaking peoples.