San Juan de la Peña Monastery | Attraction Guides | History Hit

San Juan de la Peña Monastery

Santa Cruz de la Seros, Aragon, Spain

Peta Stamper

19 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About San Juan de la Peña Monastery

A fascinating and visually striking medieval monastery complex, the San Juan de la Peña monastery in Aragón was once ranked among the most important religious complexes in what is now Spain.

San Juan de la Peña Monastery history

The monastery gained its name from that of a famous hermit who lived in solitude atop the cliff in the 9th century. The wider monastery complex is made up of two areas: the old monastery and the new. The older structure was built in the 10th century AD and was updated over the following centuries, housing the tombs of Aragón‘s three first kings.

The new monastery was built in 1675 AD after a devastating fire caused considerable damage to the older structure, and was built in the Baroque style.

San Juan de la Peña Monastery today

An utterly unique historical site, the medieval Romanesque cloister sits directly underneath a huge rocky outcrop which looms ominously overhead and leaves the sanctuary almost tucked into the mountain itself. Today it is largely this unusual visual oddity which brings tourists to the site, ensuring San Juan de la Peña remains a popular attraction.

Most of the structure you can see today is built in the Romanesque style and dates to the 12th century AD. The overhung cloisters mentioned above belong to the old monastery and date to this period. As well as exploring the newer building itself there is a visitors’ centre inside which explains more about the history of San Juan de la Peña and historical context of the time.

Getting to San Juan de la Peña Monastery

Located in the surroundings of Jaca within the mountains, a free bus shuttles you between the monasteries. Getting there is easiest via car: take the E-7 and then exit onto either A-1603 or A-1205 for the car park at the new monastery.

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