Monastery of San Juan de Duero

Monastery of San Juan de Duero
Monastery of San Juan de Duero

We are in front of the remains of a cloister built by the warrior monks of the Military Order of the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem. Which, like other military orders such as the Templars, had monasteries and temples scattered throughout Europe. In this case it is about the remains of the monastery of San Juan de Duero in the Spanish and Castilian city of Soria.


Cloister of San Juan de Duero

The complex was built in the 12th century and in its dependencies there was monastic life until the 18th century. However, it was abandoned then and has remained so to this day. Which has led to the loss of many of its parts. So today the most valuable part of the complex are the more than 40 arches that are preserved from what was the cloister.

It is a somewhat irregular shape, both because of its dimensions and because of the visual effects generated by that peculiar chamfered shape at the angles, which avoids the more classic right angle where the internal corridors of the cloisters meet medieval, such as in Santo Domingo de Silos.

Also today in the cloister of San Juan de Duero you can see parts from different eras. The northwest corner is the oldest and the one with the most common form of Romanesque, based on a semicircular arch and a running plinth. While in theother sides are incorporating other elements. In the northeast, there are no plinths and the columns have cruciform shafts, while the arches are hollow, that is, between pointed and horseshoe. These same arches, intersected with each other, appear in the southeast part, but now the columns are square and fluted. And in the lateral quarter, the southwest, the columns have double shafts, circular bases and ornate capitals, and as for the arches are pointed and criss-crossed.

All this is the result of various eras and various influences. There is Romanesque, but also Islamic, Mudejar airs and even influences of the incipient Gothic, since the construction would last until the thirteenth century. Without a doubt, it is an extraordinary jewel due to its amalgamation of shapes and uniqueness.

Something that complements the remains of the monastery church. Extraordinarily simple by comparison. It has a single nave with a presbytery, and a roof with a pointed barrel vault and an oven for the chancel. The most unique are the two temples on the sides of the presbytery, which are reminiscent of the iconostasis of the Orthodox rite, and thanks to which the head of the temple and the priest could be hidden in certain ceremonial acts.

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