Whenever we are traveling, we love to stay in unique accommodations. In the Extremadura region of Spain sits the small town of Guadalupe where they just happen to have a world heritage monastery. For some years, it has been turned into a peaceful place to stay, and after a long windy road trip through the mountains of the region, it was a welcome refuge from the summer heat. As soon as you walk through the door, the quiet surrounds you and you feel the tension being released.
We took our time getting to Guadalupe. The Extremadura region is famous for its beauty, its food, and its pigs. Yes, pigs. In this region, pigs are raised and sold as the famous jamon iberico (Iberian ham). The pigs, born in spring, are put out to forage for themselves where they feast on holm and cork oaks to produce the tasty ham. So after a few hours of sitting in the car, we were ready to check in and then make sure we made it to the museum on the monastery grounds before it closed.
The Royal Monastery of Santa Maria
The monastery museum holds all kinds of relics from the its illustrious history. Dating back to 1638, it celebrates two very important events in Spain’s history, first the reconquering of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors, and second the sailing of Christopher Columbus to the New World. The architecture itself is impressive and one of the main reasons it is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some interesting pieces included: the choir stands to hold the music, the vestments, and even some icons.
When you stay you can go to the museum for free, so we waited for the next tour, since we could not go in alone. Everyone must be accompanied. However, residents can stay in there longer and wander around the corridors. The tour was in Spanish, so we picked up some of it, but for the most part we just looked around while the guide talked. After the rest of the tour left, we enjoyed having the entire courtyard almost to ourselves. As it turns out there was a wedding party and we watched them take beautiful shots and just relaxed in the prettiest part of the convent as the sun was beginning to set.
There is a restaurant on site that serves local specialties and between the five of us, we enjoyed some dishes of rabbit, beef, Guadalupe’s famous morcilla (blood sausage), and fish. Every meal was delicious and since we were staying upstairs, we loved just lingering, talking to the waiter and indulging on some wonderful Spanish wines. After our decadent dessert, we headed to our rooms. The rooms were simple, but the few pieces of furniture that were in them were richly decorated in reds and golds, and extremely comfortable.