The monastery of Uclés, living history of Cuenca – Mi Viaje

The monastery of Uclés is a jewel of architecture that you can find in this small town of Cuenca. It is a living space that passed from Muslim to Christian hands and is still very actively part of the life of the town.

The history of this monastery

The origin of this monastery can be found in an old Muslim fortress. More precisely, we are talking about a fortification located on the top of a hill, whose purpose was to control the surrounding territory and protect its medina and cultivated fields.

However, with the arrival of the Christian kings, this fortress passed into the hands of the Order of Santiago, which decided to install its mother house or head of the Order in this place. With this, a series of reforms and extensions began that continued when the administration of the monastery passed into the hands of the Crown of Castile, in the 16th century.

The 19th century was marked by a series of systematic looting that occurred during the Napoleonic invasion and the War of Independence. Meanwhile, with the confiscations, the Order of Santiago was expelled from the place to go to the Bishopric of Cuenca.

A seminary was then established there, and a short time later, a convent of the Society of Jesus. Later, the walls of this monastery in Uclés would house a school and a novitiate of the Order of Saint Augustine.

Later, with the arrival of the Spanish Civil War, looting began again. This contributed to its impoverishment and structural deterioration. A hospital was installed there and, later, a prison. It would not be until the middle of the 20th century that its recovery began. and restoration, to reinstall a seminary and college on the site.

Today, it is still an educational venue, but it has also opened its walls to cultural activities. Thus, in this place you can enjoy exhibitions, concerts, summer courses and one of the most beautiful monuments in Spain.

What to see in the monastery of Uclés

As we have already mentioned, the monastery of Uclés is the result of the union of an old fortress of Islamic origin with a series of structures from the Christian era. Hence, on its route we pass through robust defense towers and exquisite rooms and bedrooms of Renaissance and Baroque taste.

Thus, in the monastery of Uclés, the towers of the Pontido and the Palomar are preserved from the Islamic period and a series of wall panels that join them to the Torre del Homenaje and the albarrana tower made in the time of the Order of Santiago. All this set would be the defensive area that, in its early years, would make up the monastery of Uclés.

With its loss of military function, the complex would begin to expand in a totally different way. Thus, new buildings of different styles were built that left behind their sense of strength.

In this way, our visit will start with the main building, whose façade, built by Pedro de Ribera, is in the Churrigueresque style. Crossing a beautiful entrance hall, we will arrive at the Baroque courtyard, a huge space made up of arcades in the center of which a beautiful curb stands out, from which water was extracted from a cistern.

In this courtyard is the entrance to the refectory, one of the oldest rooms in the monastery and whose pine coffered ceiling delights the visitor. Nearby is the old sacristy attributed to Andrés de Vandelvira, from which we can access the church of the Uclés monastery. This church is a Herrerian-style jewel completed at the end of the 16th century. and whose author was Francisco de Mora.

In the chapels of this temple a museum has been located in which the history of the Order of Santiago is narrated. Also, we can contemplate the tombs of Don Rodrigo Manrique and his son, the poet Jorge Manrique. They were Master of the Order of Santiago (the first) and author of the Verses on the death of his father (the second).

A staircase with several divided sections will take us to the second floor, where we can visit the upper cloister. Finally, to finish the visit to the monastery of Uclés, we recommend a walk aroundwhich will allow you to contemplate the decorated facades, the result of the various moments that the construction of this historic enclave went through.

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