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8 agosto 2022

Discover the Cistercian monasteries of Aragon. Monastery of Rueda (III/III)

Its full name is the Royal Monastery of Nuestra Señora de Rueda, although it is commonly known as the Monastery of Rueda. It is located on the banks of the Ebro River, between the towns of Sástago and Escantrón. The history of this monastery dates back to the year 1182, when the monarch Alfonso II granted this village to the monks so that they could begin to build the monastery.

The history of Aragon is evident in each of the hidden places that harbor notions of what was once a medieval society, where different confrontations and conflicts that gave way to the local culture we know today took place.

Undoubtedly, this is what is evident when visiting the most emblematic monasteries, such as Piedra and Veruela, but this time, we want to talk about the Monastery of Rueda, for being one of the greatest exponents of the Cintercian order in Aragon.

  • Importance of donations for the construction of the monastery
  • Restoration of the Monastery
  • Visit the Monastery of Rueda

Its full name is the Royal Monastery of Our Lady of Rueda, although it is commonly known as the Monastery of Rueda. It is located on the path of the Ebro River, between the towns of Sástago and Escantrón. The history of this monastery dates back to the year 1182, when the monarch Alfonso II granted this town to the monks so that they could begin to build the monastery.

However, it was not until 1202 that the construction of the monastery began, which lasted until the fourteenth century when the construction of the medieval factory that is located in the complex with its impotent Mudejar tower was completed. Thus, in the year 1238 the temple was consecrated and the beginning of a legacy that is still present today.

The main reason why this monastery of the Cistercian order is one of the most visited by tourists, lies in the fact that it has been one of the best preserved until then, so you can clearly appreciate the architectural features embodied by the monks at the time of its construction.

Importance of the donations for the construction of the monastery

For the construction of this monastery, the royal donations had greater importance during the 13th century with James I, since, at this time, it is said that the monastery reached its best point, thus managing to execute and achieve in an impeccable way most of the architectural features that appear today.

However, by the end of the 14th century, the monastery began to show its decadence, a period that would last until a century later, by which time it had gained some attention again, which allowed for some new construction of the complex.

It is evident that this monastery was not going to be saved from the misfortunes that affect this type of institutions, in the same way that happened in other important monasteries such as Piedra and Veruela, since, with the war of independence, the monastery was victim of different attacks, in fact, it was closed and put up for sale in the year 1835.

Subsequently, the monastery was acquired by the Diputación General de Aragón, who took care of the medieval buildings, later restoring the complex and converting a certain part of it into a hotel complex for the enjoyment of tourists.

Restoration of the Monastery


Evidently, the passing of the years and the conflicts that may have occurred around this monastery, generated a serious wear of the structure, so in 1991 a restoration plan was undertaken which, according to the state of the work, required all kinds of interventions.

To this end, the pertinent studies were carried out, which showed that it was necessary to provide the entire monastery with new infrastructure to guarantee its durability. But, one of the most important facts that occurred during this restoration, is that in the process some archaeological findings were discovered that revealed more and more details about the medieval structures that were now in ruins and that housed between them, years, or rather, centuries of history.

Thus, the restoration process was completed in 2003, opening the doors to visitors from all over the world, including a guided tour so that the experience, beyond showing the particular architecture of the time, is really a historical tour that shows every detail of this impressive site.

Visit the Monastery of Rueda


It is important for you to know that the monastery is currently active as a tourist complex, which means that you can visit it without any inconvenience, in fact, you can take guided tours to learn about the place, its history and architectural trends that set the tone in terms of its structure.

Undoubtedly, it is one of the most special destinations in the community, considering that it is one of the greatest exponents of the Cistercian order of Aragon, so it is considered part of the local heritage.

From the moment you arrive at this destination, you will be impressed with the incredible view where the slender Mudejar tower stands out as one of the tallest and most imposing. In addition, you can enjoy the view of the Great Hydraulic Waterwheel that has 18 meters in diameter, which raises the water from the river to the aqueduct of gothic structure, this being one of the iconic elements of the monastery and from where it derives its name.

Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Rueda (Zaragoza) Foto:Twitter Románico en España

Today, the monastery retains some of the original features of medieval times that came to life thanks to the Cistercian order, which is clearly shown in the tower that towers above the other structures and outbuildings. This complex is quite extensive in the sense that it includes rooms, agricultural spaces and even a former abbot’s palace, which adds further value.

This is an ideal tour for those who wish to delve into the medieval tradition, not only in terms of practices and history, but also to highlight those relevant features that are hidden in every corridor of the monastery and that are visible to all onlookers, but that only the most perceptive can discover.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that, the origin of this type of monasteries in the locality is linked to feudal power and, at the same time, to the search for humility and purity, based on the principle of work and prayer as the main means to have a peaceful life.

This is precisely the same current and philosophy followed by other relevant monasteries of the same order that are distributed throughout Aragon, each with its own particularities and elements that define or characterize them, either by the type of space they occupy, by the conditions of their construction or by their history.

Discover the other monasteries of the order of the Cistercian Order in Zaragoza.

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