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.
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.
On November 29, 1982, of the General Directorate of Fine Arts, Archives and Libraries, in Madrid declared the ruined monastery to be a historical-artistic monument which was published in the BOE (State gazette) on January 13, 1983.
In the 2000s a new owner permitted visits to the Monastery by small groups by arrangement with Benalup town hall. The Monastery is actually located within the municipality of Medinia Sodonia.
In 2006, reformation works began on the Monastery building and the group visits was halted. The main rectangular structure has been reformed and reroofed and external terraces constructed. The protruding structure of the chapel in the centre of the open courtyard has been untouched.
In February 2013 Junta de Andalucía registered the Monastery in the General Catalog of Andalucian Historical Heritage (Catálogo General del Patrimonio Histórico Andaluz). One of the obligations of this registration is that the site must be able to be visited, by law, at least four days a month by the general public.
In practice this visiting rights has never been implemented, and since 2006 it has not been possible to visit the site.