I was going to try to do a “churches” entry, but realized the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes needed its own – not only because I took over 100 photos in the 45 minutes we were in there, but also because I didn’t want the sheer beauty of it to have to be shared with the other churches and cathedrals.
According to Wikipedia, it’s from the late 15th Century, and King Ferdinando and Queen Isabella founded it to commemorate Prince John’s birth, and also the victory in the battle of Toro.
Simone offered to take me, and I got to walk around outside for a bit, snapping photos.
For a few Euros (thank you again!) we entered, and I was blown away by the interior. The carvings, the paintings, the doors, oh my! Also, the utter magnitude of the place. It was ginormous.
I do love doors – and these certainly did not disappoint. While they look as though they’ve been restored, they still have a bit of 1400’s charm. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.
Being in the chapel itself (even though the size was more like a cathedral) was humbling. 20′ ceilings, you say? Not even. These were so high up, I had trouble focusing my camera.
My mom was a Catholic school teacher, my grandmother and aunt/uncle go to church every Sunday, and I went through all the sacraments I was supposed to up to this point (except marriage – we eloped and got married in traffic court), and my ex-husband and his entire family have massive novenas, church parties, and every single family gathering is centered around religion. So yeah, I was raised Catholic. but I’m the Dane Cook version. You know, holds the holy days holy-ish, subscribes to most of the major beliefs, and has a rosary, bible, and crucifix somewhere in the house, observes Catholic traditions that are convenient, but generally only goes to church when required, or when the mood strikes. But one thing that always seems to get me is an altar. And this altar was one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.
As it was a monastery, there was a whole separate section for living and praying (and whatever else monks do), joined to the chapel by several magnificent hallways. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie. This was my Last Crusade.
The center courtyard looked like a lovely place to sit, have a cup of coffee, or contemplate the meaning of life.
And if anyone wanted to bother you during your hours of rest and relaxation in the courtyard, they’d have to deal with the gargoyles.
One thing that I do very much enjoy about churches is the idea that they are an antenna to the heavens, if you will. When I was young, I would find my eyes wandering upwards, wondering if my thoughts and prayers were actually getting to God, or if they were bouncing back down off of the ceiling. Suffice to say, as I was in this church and looked towards the sky, I was reassured that even if prayers were bounced back to the earth, at least they were bouncing off of something pretty.