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“Surprisingly beautiful Baroque rooms behind the walls”

Ranked #1 of 9 things to do in Rascafria
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 2, 2013

The tour is entirely in Spanish; we were very lucky to have someone in the group to interpret into English. The sacristy was the most beautiful one I have ever seen. The outside of the monastery is plain so you don't expect such opulence.

1  Thank Anonymous855
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6 - 10 of 195 reviews

Reviewed July 13, 2013

Good relaxing activity if you are not pressured for time. The short drive to Segovia is more interesting if you don't have a lot of time.

1  Thank fairtraveler80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 18, 2013

It is best to visit on Sunday because that is the only time the church is open and there is a Mass at noon with Gregorian chants, a beautiful experience.

King Juan I, King of Castille, laid the first stone in 1390 for the Carthusian monastery. This was the first one in Castille and the sixth in Spain. The construction took many hundreds of years. The monastery life was interrupted during the War of Independence of 1908 against the French. Later monasteries were expropriated in 1835 by the Spanish government. In 1844 the monastery was sold to Rafael Sanchez Merino, who later resold it back to the state in 1864. Franco made a trip to Montserrat in 1942 and enjoyed his stay there. So then he chose the Cartuja de El Paular to have a similar monastery near Madrid. The monastery was at that time abandoned by the Carthusian monks and when Franco offered it back to them, the monks decided not to accept the offer. So Franco gave it to the Benedictine Order from Valvanera, in La Rioja. This order arrived in El Paular in 1954 and have been there ever since.

The Benedictine Order was founded by San Benito (480-528). The first few years at the monastery the monks worked very hard to rehabilitate the buildings. The monks earn their living by producing various liquors, such as the Benedictine Liquor. They also produce various types of cheese. They sell these items in their store, adjacent to the entrance. They also work on a trout fish farm and they have a school for boys who are interned in the monastery.

The enclosed cloister has 52 large format paintings of the History of the Carthusians. These were originally 56 paintings, done by Vicente Carducho (1576-1638). This was the most complex pictorial cycle commissioned by the Carthusian Order and the order was given in 1626. Vicente Carducho at that time was the most highly regarded artist in the Madrid court. The first 26 paintings illustrated the life of St. Bruno of Cologne, the founder of the Order. The other paintings showed the important events in the life of the Order around Europe. In 1835 when the monastery was expropriated, the paintings went to other places owned by the government. In 2002 the Prado decided to restore all the paintings that had survived and this was completed in 2006. These were then returned to El Paular.

The church is the most beautiful part of the monastery. It took final shape during the reign of Isabel la Catolica. There is a railing that separates the monks from the public and this was the work of the monk Francisco de Salamanca. The beautiful choir seats are made of walnut and were made in the 16th century by Bartolome Fernandez of Segovia. The most beautiful part of the church is the main altarpiece, made of polychromed alabaster, created at the end of the 15th century. It was designed by Juan Guas and his school worked on it. The retable has 17 Biblical scenes with much detail. This retable is unique in Spain and is a great work of art. It is hypnotic.

4  Thank BennyMalaga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2011

Located about a mile west of town, the monastery was founded in the 14th century and is still inhabited by Benedictine monks. Tours daily at noon, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., conducted in Spanish only. Show up at main gate and wait in line near store. An architectural jewel, well worth a look inside, showcasing architecture and décor from the 14th through the 18th century. Take a look at the Sheraton hotel next door, part of the original construction, and the nearby stone Puente de Perdon.

3  Thank J05186
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thank J0seR2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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