The Monastery of Santa María del Parral of Segovia!!

This is a wonderful find in my vault, ok one picture but worth a post in my blog. I actually not been inside but just passed by it and took the picture from the Alcazar fortress. Let me tell you and me a bit of an introduction to the Monastery of Santa Maria del Parral of Segovia!!

The Monastery of Santa María del Parral, or simply the Monastery of El Parral, is a cloistered monastery of the Order of San Jerónimo located in the city of Segovia, capital of the province of the same name in the autonomous community of Castilla y León. It maintains the use for which it was created belonging from its origin to the present of the cloistered monks of the Order of Saint Jerome.


The different buildings that make up the monastery complex are distributed around various cloisters in Gothic, Mudejar and Plateresque styles. It was ordered to be built by King Enrique IV of Castile in 1447. The Monastery of Santa María del Parral, together with the Dominican convent of Santa Cruz and the Franciscan convent of San Francisco, of which the cloister remains, make up the trilogy of the top-quality architecture of 15C Segovia. The name is due to the fact that the Virgen del Parral, a Romanesque sculpture from a previous temple, is venerated there. The hermitage of the Virgen del Parral was owned by the cathedral and devoted to the citizens of Segovia since the 13C. Next to the hermitage there was a vineyard and it was surrounded by orchards that belonged, like the hermitage itself, to the cathedral chapter since in 1301 Mrs. María Molina had donated them.

On December 7, 1447, Enrique IV bought the hermitage and the land surrounding it from the cathedral town and transferred the purchase to Fray Rodrigo de Sevilla, prior of the monastery of San Blas de Villaviciosa (Guadalajara) to found a new monastery The founding bull was given by Pope Nicholas V, In 1474 the king died and a war began for the succession to the throne between the king’s daughter Juana la Beltraneja and her stepsister Isabel (later Isabel I the Catholic of the discovery of Americas). During the war the works were paralyzed. In 1479 Isabel rises to the throne of Castile and the works of El Parral begin again. The financing agreement was done with the Marquis Villena allowing the works to be completed in 1503. In 1472, Juan Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, contracted the works for the main chapel. In it he would make the altarpiece and the tombs of the Marquis of Villena himself and his wife María de Portocarrero, after signing the contract in Segovia in 1528.

After more than 300 years of history in which the monastery grew in the 19C, a period of decline began that culminated in 1837 with the confiscation of Mendizábal ( law separating state and church) which led to the abandonment of the Monastery of El Parral and the dispersion of many works of art, and documentation and treasures that were kept there. In 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops under the command of generals Lasalle and Frere broke into the monastery, looting the sacristy and the following year they dispersed the archive. The community of monks is forced to leave El Parral until they can return in 1813. In November 1820, the community is dissolved and leaves the facilities again. In July 1823 the monks would return to Parral again. On November 10, 1835, the community was dissolved by order of the confiscation laws of Mendizàbal. The confiscation process caused the dispersion of the works of art and the library, as well as the abandonment of the buildings that made up the monastic complex. Among the scattered works of art, the following stand out; part of the library is moved to Trinity College in Dublin and its shelves end up in the Chapel of Viejos de Segovia; the choir stalls are divided between the National Archaeological Museum and the Church of San Francisco el Grande, both in Madrid; the panel of La Fuente de la Gracia, from the school of Jan van Eyck, goes to the Museo de la Trinidad and from there later to the Museo del Prado; the most esteemed relic, a bone of Saint Thomas Aquinas, ends up in the Dominican convent of Ocaña, the bronze lutes and the wrought iron gate of the main chapel are sold for scrap metal and the Ricci paintings that adorned the cloister as well as many altarpieces in the chapels. The main altarpiece is intended to be transferred to the cathedral of Segovia, the transfer is prevented by the Academy of History.

At the end of the 19C, the Order of Saint Jerome ran out of members (the order did not disappear since it takes a hundred years for an order to become extinct, according to ecclesiastical law). In 1915, the processes leading to the restoration of the Jerónimos began to be carried out. In 1931, the reconstruction works were abandoned and a part of the community left the monastery, leaving only five monks. In 1941, after the Spanish Civil War, based on those five monks, the order began to be recreated. Santa María del Parral became the Mother House of the Order and from there monks would go to the monasteries of Santiponce in 1956, Yuste in 1958 and Jávea in 1964. Reconstruction resumed in 1940 and ended in 1943 , Since the restoration of the order in El Parral the monks have been recovering the scattered goods, such as the 18C bookstore that was in the Municipal Archives , In the year 2020, the resident congregation in the monastery, the only one of the Order of Saint Jerome in existence in the whole world , consisted of six Hieronymite monks, almost all of them elderly.

The church rises between the mount, to the north, and the conventual enclosure, to the south. The atrium is delimited with a small wall with balls. The façade is shown bare, unfinished, with the only decoration being the portal and the Renaissance bell tower, which rises to the right. The passage to the nave is made through two flat arches where the arms of Enrique IV appear on the voussoirs with the legend “Bittersweet is reigning”. The nave is 22 meters high with the choir in the background. The choir, which extends along the sides of the nave as if it were a balcony, is adorned with the arms of Diego López Pacheco and his wife, Juana Enríquez, Marquises of Villena. The pulpit is located between the transept and the first chapel. It is made of limestone and was built at the end of the 15C, it is adorned with a representation of “Las Virtudes” or the virtues and with a Pacheco coat of arms. As not been inside, will just list the chapels inside the church as a reminder to be back, These chapels are: Chapel de la Virgen de los Cuchillos, Chapel de la Anunciación, Chapel de San Gregorio, Chapel de San Sebastián, Chapel Mayor, The altarpiece, Ante-sacristy, Sacristy, Chapel of San Jerónimo, Chapel of the Assumption, Chapel of the Descent, and Chapel of the Nativity.

The official Monasterio Santa Maria del Parral

The Segovia tourist office on the Monastery

The Castilla y Léon regional tourist office on the monastery

There you go folks, one of the best of Spain, and plenty to see in architecture, history, personalities, and gastronomy/wines you should be there and we will be back! Segovia forever! Hope you enjoy this introduction to the Monastery of Santa Maria del Parral.

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

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2 Comments to “The Monastery of Santa María del Parral of Segovia!!”

  1. Another of my favourite cities.

    Liked by 1 person

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