As one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Spain is packed with all sorts of tourist attractions and sightseeing hotspots. But there is a hidden tourist gem for special visitors who seek peace and personal fulfillment.
We are talking about Spanish monasteries, a perfect starting point for soul searchers and asylum seekers from all over the world. We will introduce you to the basics of monastic tourism and show you 10 ancient monasteries you should visit in Spain. Let’s take a look!
Must-See Monasteries in Spain
There are three main types of Spanish monasteries suitable for tourists.
The first option is to visit a monastery as a member of a larger group and visit the prayer center. The second type of monastery welcomes guests just like a typical hotel. Thirdly, there are monasteries with special offers for both women and men who want to go through the genuine monastic experience.
Now it’s time to move on with our little guide and present the top 10 Spanish monasteries.
Parador de Granada
The first pick on our list is the world-famous Parador de Granada, a monastery situated inside the walls of the Alhambra Palace in Granada. It’s a superior example of Moorish and Catholic architectural influences, while visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views on Alhambra gardens.
Parador de Santo Estevo
Parador de Santo Estevo is a 14-century old monastery turned into a luxurious hotel. It is located in Riberia Sacra, a part of Galicia with stunning landscapes and sightseeing points. The monastery is proud of its combination of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque influences.
Parador de Merida
In case you are visiting Portugal, you might as well skip the eastern border to visit the Spanish town of Merida and its monastery-hotel. Although built on the foundation of the ancient convent, Parador de Merida is actually a fabulous hotel with an outdoor pool, delicious food menus, and colorful gardens.
Parador de Corias
Now let’s go back to the northern part of Spain to check out Parador de Corias, a Benedictine monastery that is almost a thousand years old. It makes a perfect combination of monastic architecture and modern tourist segments like a spa, swimming pools, and restaurants.
Parador de Almagro
We cannot skip Castilla y León, a region with incredible landscapes and an ancient monastery called Parador de Almagro. The monastery is situated in Almagro Ciudad Real and it is perfectly suitable for individuals hoping to experience the beauty of monastic life.
Parador de Cangas de Onis
Parador de Cangas de Onis is famous for its location. The monastery is placed in Picos de Europa, a national park in the region of Asturias. This means visitors can enjoy not only monastic serenity but also beautiful nature surrounding the monastery.
Parador de Monforte de Lemos
If you go to the town of Lugo in Galicia, you have to spare some time and visit Parador de Monforte de Lemos. Thanks to its neoclassical style, the monastery resembles many Central European temples with high ceilings, incredible stonework, and large hallways.
Parador de Chinchon
Travelers who find themselves in Madrid should also go some 50km to the south and visit Parador de Chinchon. This hotel-monastery combines a subtle architecture of the Augustinian style with modern tourist attractions such as restaurants and swimming pools.
Parador de Plasencia
Parador de Plasencia is a hotel in Extremadura, a historically important region for Spain. The hotel used to be a convent of Santo Domingo, but now it’s a place where you can stay and enjoy the remaining of monastery life with all of its charm and ancient feel.
Parador de Alcalá de Henares
The last monastery on our list is Parador de Alcalá de Henares, a charming place on the eastern border of Madrid. Apart from making a beautiful shelter for soul searchers, Parador de Alcala de Henares is famous for being the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, aka the founder of the modern novel.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for soul food and a nice place to clear your thoughts while traveling, perhaps you should think about visiting a monastery in Spain. We showed you the 10 most interesting ancient monasteries in Spain, so it’s only up to you to make a decision and pick a shelter that suits your interests.
A big thank you goes to travel blogger Leon Collier who supplied the interesting article above. He is a passionate traveler and explorer of foreign cultures. You can follow him on Twitter @LeonCollier12.
Staying in an Ancient Monastery
It is actually possible to stay in many of the historic buildings in Spain as many have been converted into the renowned Paradors of Spain.
Today there are around 90 Paradors scattered all around the country and the Islands and can be found in the most privileged locations such as castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings. There are also a few modern Paradors , built in traditional style, in areas of outstanding and captivating beauty. Below are some of the best Paradors in Spain.
The term luxury is often used when referring to the Parador chain of hotels and the ideology behind them was to offer very comfortable accommodation at a relatively attractive price, prices vary from around 95€ to 200€ for a Standard double room per night, which by international standards is very reasonable indeed.
Most of Spain’s national parks either have a Parador inside or close by and include the beautiful nature reserve of Donana in Huelva, the Picos de Europa National Parks, Cazorla Nature Preserve, Parque National del Teide on the Canary Islands and the beautiful Sierra de Grazalema in the heart of Andalucia.
Due to the privileged locations of each Parador you will never be more than a few hours drive from each one. Each Spanish Parador restaurant offers a menu based on the traditional dishes of the region where they are situated, accompanied by some excellent local wines.
Parador de Alhambra - Granada
One of the most enchanting Paradors in Spain is the one located in the gardens of the Alhambra Palace in Granada. A former convent built on the orders of the Catholic Monarchs, this monumental complex offers guests gentle strolls around the city, whilst the building itself invites them to discover a fantasy interior mixing Moorish and Christian features.
Some of the rooms have exceptional views over the Generalife, the Secano gardens and the Albaicine, whilst the classical furnishings and many portraits mark the decor of interior spaces. Andalucian gazpacho, Sacromonte omelette and Santa Fe Pionono cake are on offer under the coffered ceiling of the dining room or sat alfresco on the picturesque summer terrace.
Parador de Ronda - Andalucia
The spectacular Parador de Ronda is located in the heart of the Andalucian countryside boasting a stunning position overlooking the magnificent Tajo de Ronda gorge.
Enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast before setting off for a day of sightseeing in Ronda, a perfect town to walk and discover the historic sites and local attractions. town. There are plenty of typical local tapas bars and quaint restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.
Parador de Chinchon
The Parador de Chinchon Convent is a picture postcard hotel ideally positioned in the middle of the town of Chinchon close to Madrid. Rooms at the Parador de Chinchon Convent are decorated in traditional style, are spacious and comfortable, the décor blends perfectly within such a historic monastery building. The immaculate gardens are perfect for a stroll with the outdoor areas all captured in the locally sourced honey coloured stone.
Parador de Lerma
The Parador de Lerma occupies a stunning 17th century building in central Lerma near Burgos in Northern Spain. Rooms at the Parador de Lerma are large and comfortable with romantic honeymoon suites available. Some of the interesting features include a collection of medieval manuscripts, the salon of Luis I De Borbon, and an extraordinary statue of the Coronation of the Virgin. Burgos Airport is just a 40-minute drive away.
Parador Cangas de Onis
The Cangas de Onisc Parador is located in the heart of the picturesque region of Asturias in northern Spain surrounded by the lush green Asturian countryside. The ambiance and service are second to none. For dining you can indulge yourself in one of the chefs creations who is renowned for using only the best locally sourced ingredients. Famous Asturian dishes are cooked with a twist and include fresh seafood game and local beef dishes.
Parador de Santo Estevo
Parador de Santo Estevo is located in Nogueira de Ramuín near the city of Ourense within the stunning green lands of Galicia in North West Spain. Guests here enjoy unique historic surroundings, amazing gastronomy and the beautiful Galician countryside. The facilities are first class and include a spa centre, Turkish steam bath and gymnasium. The hotel offers 77 well-appointed rooms that are accompanied by a range of first class facilities, There are also honeymoon suites available. Guests staying are treated to a unique dining experience at the on-site restaurant.
Parador de Cuenca
The Parador de Cuenca is located in the city of Cuenca in the province of La Mancha. Situated close to Cuenca Cathderal, the hotel is an ideal base to explore the local area and attractions. Guest enjoy a superb setting with all the amenities to ensure a perfect stay within the historic surroundings. The Cuenca Parador houses both a restaurant and a bar where guests can unwind of an evening with dinner and a drink. A wide variety of cafés, restaurants and shops can also be found close by.