El Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales

By | 26 June, 2011 | 0 comments

The Monastery of the Descalzas Reales, the Royal Barefoot Nuns, is one of those rare jewels hidden away among the modern buildings of the capital. It’s not far from Sol, just off Callao, in Plaza de las Descalzas Reales.

The monastery itself is worth a visit, but it is also the idea of the nuns still living there what attracts many tourists. The convent was only opened to the public in the 1960s, allowing the treasures up to then hidden away from view to be seen by the general public.

The museum and convent can only be visited by guided tour, which unfortunately is available only in Spanish. However, even if you can’t understand every word in Spanish, the visit would still be worth your while.

The birth of the convent is quite a story in itself, it was founded in the 16th century by Joan of Austria, a noble, whose daughter hid away in the building to avoid the marriage with the then king. From then on, many women from noble families join the convent, bringing their dowries with them. Although later on, most of the women were mostly from poor backgrounds, all of these dowries and treasures brought by the noble women stayed with the convent and make up the collection of what is the museum today.

Among the treasures you will be able to admire are two reliquaries, one is said to contain pieces of the true cross and the other one the bones of St Sebastian.

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