Guadalupe, Spain’s second Santiago de Compostela
TRAVEL TIP: Guadalupe is a required visit if you travel to Extremadura. Everyone can enjoy the Medieval and Early Modern buildings of the town and the museums of the monastery. If you are Catholic, you have an additional reason to visit this town, since it’s the destination of pilgrimage.
The municipality of Guadalupe might be the most spectacular hidden gem of the region of Extremadura, Spain. If you visit Extremadura, you MUST visit Guadalupe. Located in the province of Cáceres, like Granadilla or Las Hurdes, Guadalupe is the destination of the Caminos de Guadalupe, a network of pilgrim’s ways like the more famous Camino de Santiago.
Like Santiago de Compostela, the origins of Guadalupe are inevitably linked to the statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The statue is said to have been carved by Luke the Evangelist and buried with him in Asia Minor. The remains were moved to Constantinople and Rome later, along the statue, and Pope Gregory I gave it to Saint Leander of Seville, the archbishop responsible for Reccared’s conversion to Catholicism and brother of the intellectual Saint Isidore of Seville. According to legend, when the Muslims conquered Seville in 712, a group of priests fled northward and buried the statue in the hills near Guadalupe river, until in the 13th century a shepherd found it.
The gorgeous 14th century Gothic facede of the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe. The monastery overlooks the main square and displays an astonishing mix of Gothic, Mudéjar, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical styles.
Pilgrims began to arrive in the early 14th century, and in 1340 King Alfonso XI of Castile ordered the construction of a great shrine and monastery, worthy of the Vigin of Guadalupe. In that same year, Castilian and Portuguese armies decisively defeated the Muslims at Río Salado, and King Alfonso XI attributed their victory to the intercession of the Virgin.
Because of that, he visited again the shrine and became the patron of the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe. The Hieronymites (Order of Saint Jerome) took over the monastery, as their order was greatly favored by the King of Castile.
14th century Mudéjar style cloister. Mudéjar art mixed Christian artistic trends with decorative elements of the Muslims of al-Andalus. From the corridors of this courtyard you can see the Plateresque-style portal in the centre. The interior walls of the cloister shows enormous paintings depicting battles and historic figures.
The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe was expanded and embellished over the years. The building is impressive both inside and outside, and it has a great Church, several cloisters, temples and museums. The impressive sacristy is decorated with paintings from the “Spanish Caravaggio”, Francisco de Zurbarán. The museum of paintings and sculptures includes works from El Greco, Goya, Juan de Flandes, and Pedro de Mena. The original testament of Queen Isabella and other important documents are preserved in Guadalupe too.
Moreover, King Fernando the Catholic issued the Sentencia Arbitral de Guadalupe here in 1486, that ended evil customs that allowed Catalan nobles to mistreat the remensa peasants. The monastery is very linked to Columbus and the discovery of America, because the Catholic Monarchs received him here several times, and Columbus made a pilgrimage to Guadalupe in 1493 to thanks the Virgin for his discovery.
Celebration of the Jornadas de la Hispanidad, celebrated since 1929. Every October 12 (national day) conferences, painting and craftworks exhibitions, and other events related to the links between Spain and Spanish America are held here.
the monastery and the Virgin of Guadalupe are very linked to America. Devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe spread throughout the New World, probably because many Spanish conquistadors and settlers were from Extremadura. The Virgin of Guadaupe holds the titles of Patroness of Extremadura, of all the Americas (with special devotion in Mexico and the Philippines), and Queen of the Hispanidad or the Spains.
Antigua Judería (Old Jewish Quarter) of Guadalupe, located south of the main square.
What to visit in Guadalupe
The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe is not the only thing worth to see in Guadalupe. Despite having only 1,862 inhabitants, Guadalupe has many beautiful spots, including the 16th century Colegio de Gramática (now converted into an hotel, the Parador de Guadalupe), the Baroque Church of the Santa Trinidad, five Medieval arches, the Tres Chorros square, and the Jewish Quarter. In the nearby areas, nature lovers can visit the Granja de Mirable (a residence of the Catholic Monarchs), the Granja de Valdefuentes, or the Mudéjar Ermita del Humilladero chapel.
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