2 Best Sights in Guadalupe, Extremadura

Real Monasterio de Santa María de Guadalupe

Fodor's choice

Looming in the background of the Plaza Mayor is the late-Gothic facade of Guadalupe's colossal monastery church, flanked by battlement towers. The (required, Spanish-only) guided tour begins in the Mudejar cloister and continues on to the chapter house, with hymnals, vestments, and paintings including a series of small panels by Zurbarán. The ornate 17th-century sacristy has a series of eight Zurbarán paintings, from 1638 to 1647. These austere representations of monks of the Hieronymite order and scenes from the life of St. Jerome are the artist's only significant paintings housed in the setting for which they were intended. The tour concludes in the garish late-baroque Camarín, the chapel where the famous Virgen Morena (Black Virgin) is housed. Each September 8, the virgin is brought down from the altarpiece and walked around the cloister in a procession with pilgrims following on their knees. Outside, the monastery's gardens have been restored to their original, geometric Moorish style.

Plaza Mayor

In the middle of this tiny, irregularly shaped plaza—which is transformed during festivals into a bullring—is the 15th-century fountain where Columbus's two Native American servants were baptized in 1496. Here, as is the case across Extremadura, there's a conspicuous lack of reckoning or awareness regarding the region's role in the horrors of colonizing the Americas.