31-The Mudejar Shrine of Guadalupe

Geoparque Villuercas > CULTURAL SITES > 31-The Mudejar Shrine of Guadalupe

As if it were protecting a precious jewel, the Mudejar cloister of the Real Monasterio de Santa María de Guadalupe envelops and watches over one of the most important architectural treasures of the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Global Geopark of the UNESCO. This is a small shrine in the middle of a monastic garden to represent the most exquisite architecture of its time and which today is one of the greatest attractions of the monumental ensemble.

There is no doubt that one of the main architectural ensembles of the Real Monasterio de Guadalupe is the Mudejar cloister or the cloister of the Miracles, in the centre of which is the ‘Mudejar Shrine’.

This central element, which is considered to be the apotheosis of the Gothic Mudejar style, was constructed in the late 14th century and the early 15th century. It has many aesthetic similarities with the Chapel of El Humilladero, which is located at the entrance to Guadalupe from the north via Navalmoral de la Mata. This together with the fact that both were built in the same period suggests that both works were the result of the same artistic inspiration.

One of the curious facts about this small shrine is the undeniable weight of its Islamic connotations which go further than simple reminiscences, despite its being a Christian religious monument located in the heart of a sanctuary of great importance.

In effect its design includes some elements of the Almohad tradition to give it an Islamic character. Although its decoration and materials recall the Mudejar towers of Aragon, the construction also has undeniable elements of Gothic style; many scholars thus consider it the perfect archetype and the most representative work of Gothic Mudejar. All this reflects a time in which the fusion of styles and the assimilation of cultural influences was the norm. Masonry, baked clay and templates, tiles, and plaster are the main construction materials.

It has a braided groin vault (so-called owing to its concave surfaces which resemble orange segments) with eight wall sections and as many ribs. The ground floor of the shrine is square although its interior is hexagonal. It has two storeys, the first of masonry and the second of brick. On each front of the lower floor there is a double pointed arch separated by a mullion and sheltered by another larger one which opens towards the garden. The upper part is crowned by a curious succession of three octagonal pyramids superimposed in the manner of scales. It used to shelter a fountain but this was removed in the 18th century.