Benalup Casas Viejas - Monastery del Cuervo

The barefoot Carmelite monks, who chose the most beautiful countryside they could find for the prefect tranquil retreat between the cork trees and oak trees, built this impressive monastery in 1717.

The result was this splendid building in the clearing of the forest, in a square with two diagonally facing structures added on. On one side there is a square hall, which is the porch or entrance, and on the other is an unusual two-storey cloister.

Although the building is now in ruins it is not difficult to imagine how it must have been when the monks lived here. It is large with 2100 square meters of floor space. See the individual quarters, the crypt, dining room, kitchens. The church is the most spectacular shaped in a Latin cross with a domed roof. Climb the spiral staircase up to the higher level for good views of the domed roof.

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A doctor who visited his sick brother in the monastery in 1763 discovered special medicinal properties in the spring. Advertisements have been found in Cadiz offering the water for sale.
The monastery was occupied by French troops in 1810, the monks fleeing to the caves in the hills before returning several year later. There is no burial stone in the crypt dated between April 1810 and 1815. Then due to the liberal orders in the 1820's the monks began to leave. It was already abandoned when the royal Decree of March 1836 ordered the extinction of religious orders. Except that a Presbyterian order continues to treat patients with the waters for another thirty years.

Visits the Monastery have to be previously arranged with the Town Hall of Benalup, who bring a group together with a guide. Transport is laid on from the Town Hall to the entrance of the finca which is 12 km from Benalup on the CA212. From here it is a pleasant 7-kilometer walk up to the monastery included in the trip. Telephone + (34) 956 424 129.