Santa Maria del Paular

Santa Maria del Paular
Santa Maria del Paular

The monastery of Santa María del Paular is one of the great works carried out in Spain between the 14th and 15th centuries. Some of the most outstanding artists of the time were involved in the project, both architects and painters or sculptors, and for this reason it is undoubtedly a benchmark for the art of its time.

The construction works began at the end of the 14th century, around the year 1390, placing the monastery in the Sierra de Guadarrama, a place chosen expressly by the monarch Enrique II of Castile, who also determined that it be occupied by the order Carthusian monastery as a sign of their good will as it razed a convent of the same order during the harsh clashes against France. In this way we can find in the Paular the first construction of the Order founded by Saint Bruno in the kingdom of Castile. The monastic complex had three different areas, one of them the temple run by the monks, the monastery itself and finally a palatial complex for the monarch and his court.


In the works of the Paular we can find the hand of different masters of whom each left their own signs in the projected constructions, in this way the architect Juan Guas (1430 – 1496) was in charge of designing the cloister of the convent, of great beauty, as well as the main portal of the temple and its atrium; Abderramán's imprint remained in the refectory where you canappreciate a Mudejar aesthetic or already well into the fifteenth century the works of Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón on the cover that gave access to the cloister.

In Santa María del Paular the sculpture is just as impressive as the architecture that encompasses it, in this way we can highlight inside the temple a precious altarpiece in which no less than seventeen biblical scenes they have been carved on alabaster and that according to tradition was commissioned by the monarch Juan II of Castile to a master of Italian origin; Despite this, new research sources suggest that the work could perhaps have been carried out by a follower of Juan Guas in Spain.

Painting is also noteworthy in this magnificent set, thus we can appreciate a series of some fifty-seven works painted by the artist Vicente Carducho (1576 or 1578 – 1638) recounting the foundation of the order of Saint Bruno. Despite the fact that the works decorated the cloister panels, they were not painted in fresco on the wall but were painted on canvases which were torn from their place of origin during the confiscation period and later passed to the Trinidad Convent from where they were spread through several museums. Even today most of the canvases are preserved in Spain, fifty-seven of them, and most of the set -seventeen- are in the collections of the Prado Museum in Madrid.

In 1876 the Santa María del Paular complex was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument.

Popular topic