With its little whitewashed houses and villas, as well as its small narrow streets, the village of Guadalupe in Spain is perhaps one of the more traditional-looking destinations for travellers looking to find a little bit of Spanish history. And with its famous monastery being the key point history is indeed what this village offers, and more.
Although there are many other areas of interest to visit in Guadalupe, the main attraction has to be the Monastery of Guadalupe, or the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Guadalupe. One of the most popular tourists attractions in Spain today, its origins can be traced back to 1325 when a simple farmer found the actual statue, rumored to have been carved by none other than St Luke, of the Virgin Mary half-buried in his field.
With endorsements by the ruling Queen Isabella, as well as Columbus, the statue soon became famous worldwide and to celebrate this a shrine was built in its honour. Its resting place these days is in the Camarin chapel where various valuable artefacts such as paintings by the renowned artist Luca Giordano join it.
The church itself is almost as famous as the statue, and certainly does not disappoint when it comes to things to see. Whether it’s the decorative railings that surround the grounds or the collection of paintings by the 17th century artist Zurbaran the chapel has plenty for visitors to see. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the Mudejar cloister which has a Gothic shrine from the early fifteenth century as well as a 14th century fountain built by the Moors.
Although this is clearly the key attraction of Guadalupe there are other places of interest too. The centre of the village itself is a picturesque little place with Gothic buildings located in simple, narrow streets. The main pieces of Gothic architecture are Guadalupe’s town hall building and the lively Plaza Mayor.
Like most of Spain and especially the region of Extremadura if you can afford it then you really should stay in a parador and the Parador de Guadalupe is no exception. Built in the 15th century, it’s based around the remains of the former St John the Baptist hospital and is a 4-star luxury retreat. Alternatively, there are 2-star hotels such as the Hispanidad or the Alba Taruta, which offer simpler yet comfortable stays in town.
If you like to try rich dishes full of exotic meat then Guadalupe will serve you well. Known for its stews, as well as cheeses and honeys, there are a host of restaurants to dine in. The Cerezo is a good restaurant with decent prices and serves up a mix of stews, cheese and almond and caramel nougat dishes served with local wine or there is the Meson el Cordero with some of the best Iberian ham you’ll ever taste.