Guadalupe's monastery is one of the most inspiring sights in Extremadura, and its story begins around 1300, when a local shepherd uncovered a statue of the Virgin, supposedly carved by St. Luke. King Alfonso XI, who often hunted here, had a church built to house the statue and vowed to found a monastery should he defeat the Moors at the battle of Salado in 1340. After his victory, he kept his promise. The greatest period in the monastery's history was between the 15th and 18th centuries, when, under the rule of the Hieronymites, it was turned into a pilgrimage center rivaling Santiago de Compostela in importance. Pilgrims have been coming here since the 14th century and have been joined by a growing number of tourists. Yet the monastery's isolation—a good two-hour drive from the nearest town—has protected it from commercial excess. The monastery's decline coincided with Spain's loss of overseas territories in the 19th century. Guadalupe is also known for its copper-ware, crafted here since the 16th century.
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