The Monastery of Santa María de la Huerta stands in the homonymous locality in the province of Soria, in what in other times would be the limits between the kingdom of Castile and that of Aragon.The construction dates from between the 12th and 16th centuries and it seems that its promoter was the monarch Alfonso VII who brought a group of Cistercian monks from France to live in this monastery. However, hardly anything remains of that primitive construction, today the monastery that we can see is the result of the construction work promoted by King Alfonso III of Castile around the year 1179.
The construction of this new monastery was very fast thanks to its benefactors, among whom important figures of the time such as the Archbishop of Toledo or the Molina family stand out, as well as the mayordomo mayor of King Enrique I.
The monastic enclosure is walled around its entire perimeter and throughout history different modifications have been made to its access door, each time turning it into a monumental entrance that it had little to do with the sober original. From this entrance there is access to a small atrium where the monastery church stands.
This is a temple dating from the twelfth century, but in which some modifications have been made. We find ourselves before a temple with a Latin cross plan, with three naves of which theThe central one is wider and higher than the lateral ones. The transept is developed in plan to form the arms of the cross and has five apsidal chapels opened by pointed arches and covered by ribbed vaults; Without a doubt, manifestations of the Gothic style were becoming more and more present in the Iberian Peninsula.
From the left nave of the temple you can access the lower cloister of the monastery,which bears the name of Cloister of the Knights because it houses the tombs of important figures from the time and that is represented as one of the best cloisters of the Gothic period that are preserved in Spain. In the upper area there is a second floor of the cloister, but already in the Renaissance style.
Special attention deserves the refectory of the complex, a place intended for the meals of the monks. It is a large rectangular room whose walls have been pierced with pointed openings and the roof is covered with a sexpartite vault. It is a diaphanous, elegant and well-lit space. The space has a small pulpit where one of the monks read the Bible to his companions during the meal; access is undoubtedly the most unique, since it must be done through a vaulted staircase that is embedded in the wall of the room.