Even if you have already read in guide books about the size of the Monastery of Guadalupe, you will still be impressed by its actual appearance. To reach the monastery, you drive from Trujillo a long while through less frequented A-roads and via small villages like Logrosan and Cañamero. Before reaching the destination, you have to drive over several kilometres on winding and narrow roads which lead through the dense forest of the Sierra de Guadalupe. You finally reach the small town Guadalupe that is clung to an abrupt hill. As the road progresses uphill, you will see at first only the top of the tower and the roof of the monastery. Just before the majestic building you will see the church and the whole complex shining in full splendour. Only then the question will emerge: how can such a gigantic construction have been set up in such a tiny little place?
Like a large number of monasteries, churches and knight orders in Extremadura, the monastery of Guadalupe was erected during the time of the Reconquista. According to the legend, a small cedar wood Madonna figure was the origin of the monastery. The figure was allegedly cut by the evangelist Luke. The Black Madonna is said to have trekked to Extremadura via Constantinople, Rome and Seville. An unknown person hid her on the waterfront from where a shepherd from Caceres found her in around 1400. Christian believers initially erected a small memorial chapel at the finding place. The Castilian King Alphonse XI ordered the building of a church and a monastery for the Spanish order of the Hieronymites in the middle of the 14th century, who also kept a convent in the Yuste Monastery. With the construction he wanted to thank the Virgin Mother for her support during the war against the Berbers. The building of the complex was the beginning of the success story of Holy Mary of Guadalupe. Sovereigns kept visiting the small mountain village. Kings prayed in the church for the Virgin’s blessing during the battle against the Moors. Conquistadors christened the first Indios in Guadalupe coming from the New World. As a result Guadalupe became the main pilgrimage site of Latin-American Christians. In the South-American subcontinent dozens of cities bear the name Guadalupe, testifying the impact of the small village there. Pope Pius X recognised the village as a pilgrimage site in 1907, and in 1928 the Catholic Church nominated the Blessed Virgin von Guadalupe as the patron saint of the whole Spanish-speaking world. The small Madonna figure has occupied the place in the middle of the high altar since the 17th century. It stands there holding a sceptre, carrying a royal cape and a crown. Tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world flock to this high altar each year.
The church and the monastery estate, which belong to World Heritage, possess so many sights that guests need more than one day to visit them all. The portal of the monastery church alone is of outstanding beauty and is built in a Gothic and Mudejar style. The portal was set up the same time as the cloister in the 15th century. It was also made by the Mudejar and counts among the most beautiful constructions in Spain. We recommend the nearby monk pictures of Extremadura’s painters like Francisco de Zurbaran in the sacristy, the relics and the treasure chambers as well as the small room behind the high altar, from where you have a close view of the Madonna. We warmly recommend visiting the former bishop towns Caceres and Plasencia, as well as the Yuste Monastery - the resting place of Charles V - to guests interested in order history and monastery architecture.