It is close to Vera de Moncayo, at the gates of the Dehesa del Moncayo Natural Park and under the watchful eye of this beautiful and emblematic mountain of Aragon's iberica. In a quiet and peaceful place where the Moncayo and the Huecha river give it character and uniqueness. The Royal Monastery of Santa María of Veruela was founded in the 12th century, the first foundation of the Cistercian Order in the Kingdom of Aragon. The austere and unadorned life of these communities who built their monasteries in remote places, surrounded by silence and solitude but with fertile lands, was no obstacle to these medieval monasteries being true feudal powers and the Veruela monastery did not lag behind, coming to own numerous towns in the vicinity of Tarazona and Borja, so Veruela and its abbots had an important political notoriety in the Kingdom of Aragon.
When the war, known as the war of the two Pedros, between Castilla and Aragón, the Castilians occupied the monastery and caused great damage to it, the Romanesque cloister was destroyed and rebuilt at the end of the 14th century thanks to the Luna family. In the first half of the 16th century, the monastery had a period of splendour and underwent a profound reconstruction and renovation, like that of the walled enclosure, although the medieval keep was maintained. In short, the Veruela Monastery saw how, over the centuries, it was reformed and rooms were added to adapt it to the way of life and needs of the time until, after the disentailment, it was abandoned in 1835. A conservation board, formed by residents of Tarazona and Borja created a hostelry, thus ensuring that it did not fall into total disrepair, this hostelry was attended for their comfort and rest by people of high society and a certain reputation as is the case of the brothers Becquer, Gustavo Adolfo and Valeriano, admired romantic poet and famous painter the other, who along with their families stayed here for several months between 1863 and 1864. From 1877 to 1975, the Jesuits established themselves in the monastery and took care of it. Today it is the property of the Diputación de Zaragoza.
The Black Cross, a cross located in front of the entrance to the monastery, sculpted in the 16th century and also known as the " Cross of Bécquer" because I spent long hours there reading and enjoying the peace of the place, is a good place to start the visit to the monastery. Following the boulevard, passing through an initial door that leads to the tower of homage and the walls, a beautiful walk, whose shade is provided by some banana trees, is flanked by the Wine Museum dedicated to the Campo de Borja designation of origin, and next to it is the medieval cistern. A little further on is the old abbey palace, from the 16th century, and in the background the façade of the abbey church of Santa María of Veruela, which, from the 12th and 13th centuries, can be considered one of the most Romanesque Cistercian churches in Spain.
Then, through the porter's lodge, you reach the cloister, a 14th century Gothic building, around which the other rooms are distributed, the cilla, the grain store and the cellar, the kitchen, dating from the 13th century, the refectory, the monumental lavatory where the monks used to wash their hands before going in to eat, the library and scriptorium, where the codices were copied, the chapter hall, next to which the so-called measure stone is engraved, from which the proportions that each construction of the monastery had to have were calculated.On the second floor were the bedrooms of both monks and converts, although radically separated. But in the cloister something breaks with the austere constructive spirit of the Cistercian and are beautifully carved capitals and rain drainage gargoyles with fantastic shapes. The surroundings of the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Veruela and its proximity to the Grassland of the Moncayo Natural Park offer nature lovers the opportunity to enjoy pleasant excursions and hikes that will bring them closer to places of unparalleled scenic beauty.
When the Monastery of Veruela was served by the Jesuits, they encouraged the tradition of neighboring towns meeting in the monastery. Nowadays, since 1980, and recovering that tradition, a pilgrimage is made at the end of June, attended by the neighbours of the villages in the area, and an offering is made, which is later distributed among the attendees.
In the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Veruela, apart from being one of the most visited monuments in Aragon, you can enjoy a wide cultural programme of your own, concerts, poetry recitals, exhibitions, theatre... modern art that integrates and highlights the art that the monks of austerity made centuries ago.
Legend has it that while Don Pedro Atares, Lord of Borja, was hunting in this area of the Moncayo, a strong storm came and what would not be its intensity that the noble lord feared for his life. Fervent devotee of the Virgin implored him his protection and the Mother, attending to his prayers, covered him and took him to an oak tree where there was a small Marian image, entrusting him that in that same place he would order to build a monastery dedicated to Her. This happened one day in the year 1141.
From Vera de Moncayo, the Z-373 road starts, which, in a short distance, will take us to the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Veruela. There are also several local roads that run through the Moncayo Natural Park connecting with the various towns in the area and in turn with the monastery. The main access to Vera del Moncayo is on the N-122 road in the section between Tarazona and Borja. Vera de Moncayo has a bus service that, from Monday to Friday and at different times, connects it with Zaragoza, Añón, Tarazona and the different towns along the route.
We will have a large parking area next to the main entrance of the monastery where we can park our vehicle.
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