Visiting Guadalupe is a special experience. Between the Barrio de Arriba and the Barrio de Abajo, Puebla kindly opens its cobblestone streets, its iron and wood balconies, its half-timbered and interlocking buildings. Some parts of the town still show that attractive weathering patina. Good examples of this are the Plaza Mayor, the Tres Chorros, the Alamillo, the La Pasión or the Seville square. The strong point of its heritage are the buildings that have been preserved since the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
Beyond the unique beauty of the historic centre and the imposing monasteries, what you see in Guadalupe extends to its surroundings. Thus, they still show that attractive patina that gives time as the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Cruz del Humilladero, Santa Catalina and San Blas. Finally, the river bank is embellished with ponds and mills, which feed the fertile fields that surround La Puebla. Guadalupe is also the centre of the Villuercas region, a beautiful and rugged natural environment.
The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe
Of all the things to see in Guadalupe, the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe stands out. The visit to the interior must be made with a specialized guide, with the exception of the church. The entrance to the enclosure is located in a square created to enhance the effect produced by the view of the main facade. Introduced by a staircase, the façade rises between two asymmetrical towers. This part of the church is in the Gothic style (14th and 15th centuries), although the whole looks Mudejar.
After crossing two doors of considerable size, made of bronze and carved by Paolo of Cologne, one enters an interior organized in three naves covered by intensely decorated vaults. The transept of this temple is crowned by a dome designed by Larra Churriguera (eighteenth century). The Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles are combined thanks to the work carried out throughout history.
Inside the main church, the Chapel of Santa Ana houses two admirable works of art. The first one is the fountain carved in bronze and jasper by Juan Francés (1402). The second is the Flemish tomb of the Constables of Velasco (1460). Both are elements to see in Guadeloupe in an inexcusable way. In its rich patrimony, it is also worth mentioning the Renaissance grille of the Main Chapel (16th century) and its altarpiece by Giraldo de Merlo (1609). The unique tabernacle, a Mannerist desk that Philip II gave to the monastery, is also noteworthy. On both sides of the altar are the tombs of Enrique IV and his mother María de Aragón.
Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe
The rooms of the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe are the most interesting part of the visit. To see them it is necessary to buy the ticket for the guided tour in the religious souvenir shop. The first stop is the Mudejar Cloister (14th and 15th centuries), known for being one of the most interesting sets of its style. It is the central axis around which the different rooms of the building were built and distributed. In the centre of the courtyard there is a curious Gothic-Mudejar temple (1405) which sheltered a fountain. Besides, several canvases decorate the walls showing the miracles of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
One of the rooms located around the cloister is the old refectory, which has been converted into an embroidery museum. It shows delicate works from the workshop of the monastery. Within the space occupied by the bookstore, which on the ground floor houses the Chapter House, is the Museum of Miniated Books. Also notable is the Museum of Painting and Sculpture. Its collection includes three canvases by El Greco, a Goya and small panels by Francisco de Zurbarán.
Walking through long corridors and aged stairs you reach the choir loft, whose original walnut stalls feature sculptures by Alejandro Carnicero (1743). Following the visit, the Sacristy of the 18th century is reached, which is characterised by its organisation around a large rectangular nave covered with a barrel vault, profusely decorated. Eight monastic paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán from 1638 onwards are exhibited there. For its part, the Chapel of San Jerónimo holds three other paintings representing scenes from the life of the saint.
Small Chapel of the Virgin in the Monastery
Continuing with the tour of the great monument that can be seen in Guadalupe, the Reliquary and the Treasure are reached. Before entering the Small Chapel of the Virgin, located behind the presbytery, a Franciscan monk will appear who will invite visitors to venerate the image of the Virgin closely and perform the ritual of praying the Hail Mary.
The Small Chapel was built at the end of the 17th century on top of the old Royal Pantheon. Thus, it is a baroque work characterized by the abundance of colors and its original square plant, with four added exedras. The room also features the sculptures of the Eight Strong Women of the Bible. However, the focus is on the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is a small Gothic sculpture from the end of the 12th century, carved in dark wood and richly decorated.