You may recall that I decided not to visit here from Caceres because of the inconvenient bus times. The information I had suggested that the journey from Madrid would be around three hours. In fact, it took around four, leaving at 8am from Madrid with the return bus (and there was only one) leaving Guadalupe at 4.15pm. In the event, this worked out just fine – even I couldn’t spin out the visit to fill the whole four hours available to me, mostly because the tour of the monastery is guided and so of a fixed length. I spent a happy hour reading in a cafe waiting for the bus.
The gothic church around which the monastery is wrapped contains a famous and much revered image of the Virgin Mary with child. The story has it that this statue, which trails many stories of miracles, was buried in the 8th century by christians fleeing from the Moorish invaders and was refound (through the standard ‘shepherd sees vision of Mary’ means) in the 13th century.
The monastery had a great deal of royal patronage and so has some fabulous interior decoration and art. This included a stunning baroque sacristy and a room stuffed full of reliquaries, embroidered cloaks and crowns for religious statues, metalwork and statues on high shelves all around the room. It was hilarious and I loved it.
Once again none of this was photographable and nor, sadly, was the cute young monk who took over as our guide as the tour approached the bit where we got to see the effigy itself. We saw it from inside a very ornate room behind the main church altar – the monk rotated Mary round so she faced into the room. This got the rest of the group very excited and I realised I was the only person there whose visit not motivated by faith.
The monastery as a lovely Mudejar cloister in the middle of which is this temple, built in 1405.
And here is my attempt to build it in Lego, which was not easy!