Last Minute Holidays: Exploring Spain’s Monasteries Hotel

Being open to the idea of last minute holidays means you’ve put yourself in the running for last minute deals. So, why not branch out?

Spain holiday deals are never hard to come by, and as well as going easy on your budget, Spain holidays offer some of the most beguiling landscapes, and one of the richest cultures, which Europe has to offer. Why not experience Spain through the eyes of those who’ve helped shape and record its history down the centuries; not to mention brewing up the odd beverage while they were at it.

Here we take a look at Spain’s Monasteries: some most often over-looked, some simply not to be missed.

Nestled away in the southern part of Burgos Province in northern Spain, the glorious Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos was of the Benedictine order, and boasts a plethora of Romanesque art and architecture. Named after the eleventh-century saint Dominic of Silos, the monastery’s scriptorium has been producing texts for close on a thousand years. Many of its most important manuscripts have winged their way abroad (nestling mostly in the British Library) but the Missal of Silos (the oldest paper document in the Western World) remains there to this day. The monks of Silos proved they were far from rooted in the past, however, when their very own album of Gregorian chants went triple platinum, peaking at number three in the US charts!

The twin monasteries of San Millán de Suso and San Millán de Yuso are situated in the village of San Millán de la Cogolla, La Rioja, thus seating them in the heart of Spanish wine country. Both have been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The monastery of San Millan de Suso can even boast status as the cradle of the Spanish language, as it was here that phrases in the Spanish and Basque languages were written for the first time.

For the more cavalier, if not masochistic among us, Spain holidays mean only Pamplona, and the celebrated running of the bulls. But if the noise of the fiesta gets too much, take a time out to one of Spain’s most important and nearby historical monasteries, the Monastery of San Salvador of Leyre. With records of the site dating back to 842AD, the monastery has been a longtime favourite of pilgrims on route of the Way of Saint James (one of Europe’s longest standing and most popular Christian pilgrimages).

Far from being the preserve of the middle-ages, even General Franco got in on the act, as spectacularly demonstrated by the Benedictine Abbey incorporated into Valle de los Caídos (The Valley of the Fallen), a still controversial monument erected to commemorate the victims of Spain’s civil war. Controversial on account of the many Popular Front POWs (Franco’s greatest enemies) cajoled into assisting its construction.

Located high in the mountains of Montserrat, close to the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, you’ll find one of Spain’s, if not the world’s most impressive monasteries, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Among its dizzying array of functions it plays host to not only the Escolania (one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Europe) but also one of the oldest publishing houses and printing presses in the world. Groups from all over Galicia hike through the night to watch the sunrise over Montserrat, and with Santa Maria offering them works of art from the likes of Dalí, El Greco and Picasso, it’s easy to see just why.

Jacob Reeves is a travel writer, and an expert on finding deals on last minute holidays, particularly related to Spain holidays and Spain holiday deals.

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