Thursday, July 21, 2011

Santa María de Moreruela

This time we visit a monastery which was quite important back in its time. It is the Cistercian monastery of Santa María de Moreruela, in the province of Zamora.

The first monastery was built in the C.9th in order to repopulate the land taken from the muslims during the Middle Ages. The monastery went into a crisis during the C.11th, and it was rebuilt the next century by the Cistercians. This defined its architectonic style, which is a mix of romanesque and gothic. A characteristic Cistercian rule was the total absence of ornamentation, so there are no decorated capitals or statues anywhere in the whole complex, including the church, the cloister and other buildings. After its reconstruction, the monastery was founded as Santa María de Moreruela in 1133..

The monastery was abandoned (as many others) with the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal in 1836. Mendizábal was prime minister under the reign of Isabel II, and ordered the expropriation of many ecclesiastical properties for them to be sold. The aim was to give the small bourgeoisie a chance to own some of the underused land the church owned, but in the end the plan had very different consequences. Most of the expropriated land, buildings and art pieces were bougth by the nobilty, increasing even mor their already huge properties and in many cases leaving them languishing in oblivion.

The intention was to balance properties, but result was the loss of much cultural heritage, and in the case of Santa María de Moreruela the monastery was abandoned in 1836, and all its land and goods were sold. This led to the place being neglected, and in a short time the monastery was ruined.

In 1931 the monastery was declared National Monument, but it reamined abandoned until 1994, when the Junta of Castille and León bought what was left to be restored. Since then some work has been carried out. The ruins have been consolidated, but the monastery is almost in the same condition as 80 years ago.

Now only a small part of the cloister reamins visible. These are the outer walls of the buildings surrounding it.

One of the entrances to the monastery.

A gallery under the church buttresses.

The sala capitular, a room where the moks gathered to read Bible chapters, is still well preserved.

The church is the best preserved section of the monastery, the apses being the most impressive part.

The only "ornamentation" we find in the church are the mason´s marks.

1 comment:

  1. Un magnífico lugar. Lo visité hace poco fuera de horario, pero el guardia tan simpático nos abrió el acceso.

    Un saludo!