Excursion to Monastery of Ucles (Monasterio de Ucles)

Excursion to Monastery of Ucles (Monasterio de Ucles)

Where history continues to live

The beautiful village of Ucles (which has Celtic and Roman origin) halfway between Cuenca and Madrid seems to be stuck in the past. Surrounded by the ruins of the ancient city walls and towers, the village doesn’t want to lose its original look.

The monastery of Santiago is situated on the top of the hill. Due to its greatness, this monumental complex was also called “Escorial of La Mancha”.

The monastery is the forms a part of ensemble, built during the rule of the Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula. After the conquest by the Christians, King Alphonso VIII of Castile ceeded it to the Order of Santiago. According to historical data, it happened on the 9th of January 1174.

Monastery- the head of the Order of Santiago

The Order turned the Monastery of Ucles into a so-called “Mother’s House”. It became the part of the complex of buildings, preserved to this day. In the XV century the radical reform, turned the medieval castle into the modern building. These changes contributed to the combination of several architectural styles in the palace interior (including baroque and plateresque).

From the monastery to the seminary: two exciting centuries

The Knights of the Order of Santiago weren’t meant to live peacefully in their castle. In 1808 the monastery suffered the invasion of Napoleon’s troops during the war of independence, which caused huge losses.

In 1836 the Order of Santiago was forced to leave the building. In 1874 the monastery became a possession of Diocese of Cuenca. And in XIX-XX century the monastery changes its role several times: it served as the Jesuit Order, secondary school, and even the college of Augustinians… After the Civil War, the monastery was the State Prison, until it finally turned into the seminary in 1949. The main task of this establishment was not only the spiritual education of the students, but also the preservation and improvement of this building.

The monastery, where the story continues

Due to the reduction in the number of the students and the difficult economic situation, since September 2012 the monastery returned to its original purpose: to serve not only as a tourist attraction, but also provide Christian courses, spiritual practices, meeting of groups and associations, summer courses, etc.

The monastery can accommodate more than 200 people and has many audiences, assembly hall, theater, library, multi-purpose venues, chapels, lots and sports grounds, which makes this place perfectly adapted to the needs of its users.