Romanesque Monasteries near Leon

We were based in Léon and wanted a day out of the city so visited several remarkable Romanesque Monasteries near Leon. It was a wonderful day trip of c. 90 kms on easy roads. I wrote individual posts about the monasteries but I want to draw them together, and anyway I don’t really want to leave Léon!

Santa Maria de Sandoval

Santa Maria de Sandoval is just outside Mansilla de las Mulas, one of the stops on the Camino de Santiago. This Monastery dates from 1167 and it was a Cistercian Monastery. 

Romanesque Monastery near Leon
Santa Maria de Sandoval
Santa Maria de Sandoval
Inside Santa Maria de Sandoval
The ground floor of the first cloister
Santa Maria de Sandoval
Romanesque Apse next to the second cloister

Convent of Santa Maria la Real

In the unassuming village of Gradefes we found the Convent of Santa Maria la Real. The Convent was founded in 1171 during the early expansion of the Cistercian Order. It is a calm and beautiful environment, and felt very ‘feminine’. This was another place we were reluctant to leave.

Romanesque Monastery near Leon
Original doorway into the church
Santa Maria de Gradefes
Apse of the Convent of Santa Maria de Gradefes

San Miguel de Escalada

The Monastery of San Miguel de Escalada stands alone on a hillside down the road from Gradefes. I caught my breath as I walked through the door. It is completely surprising, almost like being in the Mosque in Cordoba. And the atmosphere is calm and serene.

Romanesque Monastery near Leon
Interior of San Miguel de Eslonza
San Miguel de Escalada
Visigothic motifs? In San Miguel de Eslonza
San Miguel de Escalada
San Miguel de Escalada

San Pedro de Eslonza

And quite by chance we found the rather sad ruins of San Pedro de Eslonza. This Monastery, founded in 912, became the second most important Benedictine establishment in Léon, after Sahagun. In the 1830s when religious establishments were taken over by the state the Monastery’s artefacts were sold and the buildings were systematically looted. Fortunately, perhaps, the facade was ‘rescued’ and moved to Léon to face the Church of San Juan and San Pedro Renueva. 

Romanesque Monastery near Leon
San Pedro de Eslonza
San Pedro de Eslonza
The facade of 1711 in its original position (https://leonolvidado.antoniojuarez.com)
San Juan and San Pedro Renueva in Leon
San Juan and San Pedro Renueva in Leon

If you have a day to spare in Léon do consider this round trip to see Romanesque Monasteries near Leon – just check opening times before setting out!