Convento de San Pablo, Parador at Cuenca!

I like to tell you about an unique place in the off the beaten path trail of Cuenca, one of my sentimental towns of my beloved Spain. 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 several posts on the town and surrounding in my blog, 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.

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The parador of San Pablo ,in Cuenca, is an old convent of the order of the Dominicans, 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 Casas Colgadas (see post). The 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 lodging.

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 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.

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

He was a canon born in Almodóvar del Pinar (see post), 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 wooden Puente de San Pablo or bridge of St Paul, that he himself paid 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. At the end of the 19C the PP. Redemptorists destined the house for the Apostolic School; but they did not fit easily. 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 river 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. 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 1973 the Seminary closed its doors, handing over the keys two years later the Bishopric. The current iron bridge connecting the lower town with the promontory was done on April 19, 1903, the Puente de San Pablo  was blessed and inaugurated.

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In the 1980’s after many attempts to do something here ,all failed,and the great building was still empty and the people crossing the Puente de San Pablo (see post) 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.

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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.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are :

The official Paradores of Spain on the San Pablo parador of Cuencahttps://www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-cuenca

The Cuenca province tourist office on the convent/paradorhttps://www.descubrecuenca.com/en/enclaves-y-poblaciones/la-capital/cuenca-antiguo-convento-de-san-pablo-113

The Castilla La Mancha region tourist board on the convent San Pablohttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/convento-de-san-pablo-29764/descripcion/

The Espacio Torner of Cuenca next to convent/parador San Pablo: https://www.espaciotorner.es

There you go folks, 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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