Convento de San Pablo, Parador at Cuenca!

So back into my lovely and sentimental Cuenca. I have spent several vacations in the area with the family over the years and we love it. Castilla La Mancha region of Spain of Don Quijote fame! There is so much to see here and Unesco site that have taken me several posts and still not done ! Today ,let me introduce you to an off the beaten path visit even thus you can stay in it ::) Let me tell you a bit of history on the Convent of San Pablo or parador lodging of Cuenca, Spain.

The Convent of San Pablo ,in Cuenca, is an old convent of the order of the Dominicans, is outside the urban walls, in a place of a great natural beauty, since it rises in a promontory on the sickle of the Huécar, to quite a height on the channel of the river and in front of the Hanging Houses (Casas Colgadas). The architects of the church were the brothers Juan and Pedro de Alviz and their architecture responds to some of the ideas of the first years of the 16C; Gothic structure and Renaissance decoration. It is popularly known as “los Pablos”. Since 1993 the convent functions as a national tourism Parador.


A bit brief on its construction tells us that the Convent of San Pablo is composed of the church, built in the bow, as advancing in the Huécar’s sickle, the cloister on its right and another series of buildings that have been growing attached to the main body according to the needs of the different orders that they have lodged in the convent. The church and the cloister are from the 16C, with the rest of buildings from a later period. The building is perched on a prow or promontory over the Huécar sickle (river). This unique building that emerges between the rocks and rocky shapes that festoon the Hoz del Huécar, between orchards and hanging houses that overlook the abyss, which has served as a monastery, convent, school, seminary, nursery, special education center and many projects that were not carried out, in addition to numerous celebrations of all kinds, both in the beautiful church, which was the concert hall of Religious Music, and now Espacio Torner, as in the convent building itself through which the Dominicans passed, the Redemptorists, the Josephites and the Vincentian fathers, and since 1993, the visitors who stay at the Parador.


A bit of history I like, it’s nice from my old books, so bear with me please.

He was a canon born in Almodóvar del Pinar (same province of Cuenca), Juan del Pozo, who was the promoter of this colossal building when on April 24, 1523 he requested the census from the Chapter Corporation.The primitive bridge of San Pablo (wooden bridge), that he himself cost to unite the convent with the old Basin commanded to begin the works of the convent and church that put under the trusteeship of the Apostle San Pablo (St Paul), supporting of his money the construction of both, and endowing the foundation with huge rents to attend the maintenance of the same.

So it was and in 1836 the Dominicans had to leave the convent and it was the Bishopric of Cuenca who later bought the building in public auction to install the Minor Seminary of San Pablo. In 1885 ,it was ordered the rebuilding of the College of San Pablo at the expense of the bishopric itself for diocesan studies. At the end of the 19C the PP. Redemptorists destined the house for the Apostolic School; but they did not fit easily. A few years after their entry they left leaving a bitter memory. In the early 20C the Seminary of San Pablo was ruled by the Sons of Mosén Sol, Diocesan Operatives, who were vulgarly known by the “Josefinos” (josephs). On January 3, 1912, the seminarians of San Pablo, and with them those of the Seminary of San Julián, rebelled against the superiors, who had to flee at night through the Huécar sickle and through the tunnel of the garden that gave to the San Pablo seminary . Faced with the events produced, the Seminars, expelled the students and intervening the Vatican itself. The “Josefinos” left Cuenca and the Seminary of San Pablo remained closed again.

On July 3, 1922, the concession of the Convent of San Pablo to the Community of Padres Paúles (pablos=pauls) was confirmed. The seminarians did carpentry, masonry and electricity and in September they started the course. On July 25, 1936, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic sent a letter to the bishop of Cuenca stating that the Provincial Council requested the seizure of the building and transfer to the Provincial, in order to install a provincial sanatorium, after having been evicted by the community of Father-Parents. But during some months during the Spanish Civil War it was left without activity and the building suffered some looting.  In 1962 it was determined that the Internal Seminary resided in San Pablo and this required an improvement of the building, extending it with a floor. With this extension the Seminary could receive up to 200 seminarians.  In 1973 the Seminary closed its doors, handing over the keys two years later the Bishopric. On July 30, 1977, in the Church of San Pablo, which had to be opened for the occasion, the singer from Cuenca José Luis Perales (very famous and good singer we love!) contracted with Manuela Vargas, before a great expectation, and in the surrounding area hundreds of people gathered, almost as many as on April 19, 1903, the date on which the present iron bridge of San Pablo  was blessed and inaugurated.


On July 3, 1986, the Summer Course of the Catholic University of Santo Domingo was inaugurated. It was planned to permanently establish a series of Faculties in the Convent of San Pablo, which did not take place either. In  October, 1983 the news that prepared the signing of an agreement between the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the bishopric for the installation of the Faculty of Fine Arts in the Convent of San Pablo; this project did not work out either. The great building was still empty and the people crossing the bridge of San Pablo returned after walking before a closed and gloomy place at dusk. In November 1988 the Bishopric agreed to cede to the State the Convent of San Pablo for a tourism lodging Parador, and a few months later, on July 11, 1989, the cession of the property to the Spanish State was signed for a period of fifty years, with an extension clause and an exclusive destination for Parador de Turismo, except for the church with its front part or body of the sacristy, which years later it would become, through another agreement, in the Torner Art Space.  The works of transformation and restoration of the Monastery or Convent of San Pablo began in December of 1990 adapted the building for 63 rooms, two of them suite. The dining room was located in the old refectory that preserves the reading pulpit and the main hall bears the name of Vincentian hall in memory of the Vincentians(Vicenciano), also with a large pulpit for reading or speeches. The inauguration of the Parador took place on Thursday, April 1, 1993, on the eve of Holy Week and from the first day its occupation was full. The Parador can tell many stories, although the most impressive was the overnight stay of the Princes of Spain, Felipe and Letizia, on their honeymoon trip through Spain, with the first nuptial stop in Cuenca on Sunday, May 23, 2004.I said all a great monument and story,now we can try to stay there in the Parador!


Now as usual from me, some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Province of Cuenca tourism on the Convent

Region of Castilla La Mancha tourism on the Convent

Official Paradores of Spain on the parador San Pablo of Cuenca

Espacio Torner next to Convent

There you go, now you are loaded to come and enjoy this marvel of architecture and history in the comforts of a modern lodging building,a Parador of San Pablo in Cuenca. Hope you have enjoy the story!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!





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