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Santa María de Óvila

Santa María de Óvila

Santa María de Óvila

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Santa María de Óvila
Santa María de Óvila

ría de Óvila

is a former Cistercian monastery built in Spain beginning in 1181 on the Tagus River near Trillo, Guadalajara, about 90 miles (140 km) northeast of Madrid. During prosperous times over the next four centuries, construction projects expanded and improved the small monastery.

Location: Trillo, Guadalajara, Castile-La Manc…
Year consecrated: 1213

Monastery of Santa Maria de Ovila

Santa María de Óvila

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During prosperous times over the next four centuries, construction projects expanded and improved the small monastery. Its fortunes declined significantly in the 18th century.



Castile-Leon, Spain. In this endeavor, the king was following a general strategy of establishing Catholic institutions on land he had recently won in battle from the Moors of Iberia.[2] The Cistercian “white monks” (wearing undyed habits) first chose a site in Murel (now called Carrascosa de Tajo) on the Tagus, but after a few years, had to relocate to more fertile zone a few miles nearer to Trillo, Guadalajara, where a flat hilltop by the river commanded a modest view.[3][4]

in 1181

The construction began in 1181.

The monastic quarters and the church were built over the following three decades. The central cloister was bordered on the north by the church, on the west by a barrel-vaulted great nave, on the east by the sacristy, the priory cell, and the chapter house.

and on the south by the kitchen, the pantry and the refectory (dining hall).[5][6] Some of the buildings were given seven-foot-thick (2 m) walls with slit windows, to serve as a refuge in case the Moors returned to the area.[6]

The church was built in the shape of a Latin cross with a nave divided into four sections, and a sanctuary with three square apses. Its presbytery had a central square topped by a pentagon.[7]

In 1191, the king confirmed the monastery and its surrounding fields as belonging to the Cistercian Order.[8] The aged abbot of Santa María de Huerta, bishop (later canonized).

consecrated the church in September 1213 and died days later.

[9] The surrounding area of Murel and Trillo along the Tagus prospered, giving tithes and gifts of land to the monastery.[7] The cartulary, Cartulario de Óvila,[10]

is preserved at the University of Madrid.[11]


After the Confiscations, many of the furnishings and artistic treasures of Santa María de Óvila passed to the surrounding parish churches, especially Ruguilla, Huet, Sotoca de Tajo and Carrascosa de Tajo.[7] Other valuables, such as books and historic documents, were stolen and sold.

[15] The remaining contents were auctioned, including wine-making equipment and an oxcart.[9] The precious 328-pages cartulary of the monastery (Spanish:

libro tumbo de Santa María de Óvila[16]) went to a private owner but was donated in 1925 to the Monastery of Santa María la Real of Oseira.[7][17][18]

The thick manuscript holds copies of royal privileges granted to the monastery throughout its history, as well as the Abadologio.

a comprehensive and thorough history of the Cistercian abbots and monks who lived in the monastery, which was written from March 1729 to February 1730 by Father Gerofeo.

a Cistercian monk of the monastery of Valparaíso (Zámora).[17][18]


Enameled monastery sign shows damage

From the 15th century, changes to the areas surrounding Santa María de Óvila initiated a slow decline. Civil wars depopulated the villages of the upper Tagus valley.[12] The monastery’s land holdings passed one by one into the hands of the new regional aristocracy: first the Count of Cifuentes.

followed by Rui Gomes da Silva, Duke of Pastrana, and the Spanish Army. Neighbors looted more lands.[13]

A fire destroyed part of the monastery during the War of the Spanish Succession.[12] During the Peninsular War, French troops looted the buildings and used them as barracks.

[14] However, the nearby villagers denied support to the monastery despite its protection by the king. The monastery ceased to operate in 1835:

the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal enforced a law declaring that minor religious holdings housing fewer than 12 residents were to be forfeit to the state;

Removal to California

William Randolph Hearst spent roughly $1 million to obtain the monastery’s finest features.

Dismantled cloister of the abbey in the 1930s

In 1928, the Spanish state sold the monastery to Fernando Beloso for a little more than 3,100 pesetas,[20] roughly $600 to $700 at the time.[21] Beloso, director of the Spanish Credit Bank in Madrid, was the owner of Coto de San Bernardo in Óvila, which included expansive irrigated grain fields and forests surrounding the monastery.[22]

Spanish ruins

The ruins of the monastery in Spain

Today, a few buildings remain of the original monastery in Spain. These include the winery or bodega, now the oldest surviving building on the site.

with the upper floor built as a dormitory 27 by 90 feet (8.2 by 27.4 m) covered by a long barrel-vaulted ceiling. Outside of the bodega,

crumbling walls, open yards and part of the Gothic roof of the church are visible.

The foundation of the church can be seen.[31]

resource: wikipedia


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