For centuries the Marian devotion of which Guadalupe was the centre of attraction, together with the importance given to it by noblemen and kings, meant that between the walls of the Real Monasterio a huge heritage of works of art gradually accumulated. The museums of Guadalupe exhibit this impressive legacy and convert the site into a first-rate cultural centre, allowing it to be enjoyed by the visitors to the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Global Geopark of the UNESCO.

The singularity of the museums of Guadalupe not only lies in the number of valuable elements they contain but also in the architectural context and the buildings in which they are located. Such is the case of the Embroidery Museum which was inaugurated in 1928 in the former monks’ refectory. The room has undergone few modifications to its original appearance. It contains many handmade pieces of work produced in the monastery’s workshop since the early 15th century. Religious costumes, ceremonial apparel, liturgical elements and those of the services of the monastery, hoods, headdresses, capes, robes… made from rich materials with great care by the best artisans of the period.

The Painting and Sculpture Museum is in the Mudejar cloister, to be precise in the former confectionary. Here we can find exceptional works by artists such as Goya (Confession in Prison), El Greco (The Coronation of Our Lady, St Peter, and St Andrew), Juan de Flandes, and Zurbarán, among others. This museum also contains carvings such as those of Hanequin of Brussels and Egas Cueman, and a Christ on the Cross of marble attributed to Michelangelo.

Immediately after the foregoing and also in the Mudejar cloister we come to the Museum of Illuminated Books with its wonderful collection of more than one hundred codices. Particularly spectacular exhibits include the large-size songbooks to be read by the whole choir of monks during religious services which were executed in the 15th and 16th centuries and illustrated with a rich profusion of plant, allegorical, and geometric motifs. Other treasures kept in this museum include two 15th-century passionals. Many of these volumes were written on calf-skin leather and some of them were decorated with gold leaf. The majority were produced in the scriptorium of the monastery during the three centuries it was in operation.

Although it is not strictly a museum, the Vestry of the monastery holds in a few square metres an impressive accumulation of works of art which has been called ‘the Spanish Sistine Chapel’. A huge amount of ornamentations of jaspers, marbles, paintings, and mirrors serve as a setting for some of the pictorial treasures of the monastic ensemble of Guadalupe. There is no doubt that the most outstanding of these are the eight large canvases by Zurbarán. The artist of Extremadura was commissioned to execute the works by the Hieronymites and can still be contemplated in their original location. The paintings represent the Hieronymite monks who lived in the monastery at that time to symbolise the eight principles of monastic life. In the chapel adjacent to the vestry, the Capilla de San Jerónimo, is preserved one of the key works of the baroque of Zurbarán: La Apoteosis de San Jerónimo.