The Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas

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On an unusually sunny and warm (!!!) January day in Burgos, I went with friends to a local Monastario. A translation would be a convent, as it is where nuns live (around 150 in its prime, nowadays around 30 nuns live here). A Monastario can either be for monks or nuns, but obviously not both at the same time.

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The tour cost 6 euros, and was very much worth it. The tour guide translated the information into English for us, and told us many fascinating facts and stories surrounding the monastario, which also acted as a palace for the royal family. Fun fact: although in modern Spanish huelgas means strike, as in to go on strike, when the monastario was first built the word meant “to not do anything”. In other words: to be on holiday. The King and Queen of the Castilla y Leon region (King Alfonso VII and Leonor de Inglaterra/ Eleanor of England) essentially used it as a holiday home.

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Although we could only take photos outside, both outside and inside were very beautiful with a pure, serene atmosphere. The stonework made it very cold inside, although we were not wearing coats outside, so be prepared if you ever find yourself visiting it or somewhere similar! Inside I found it fascinating to discover the decor that was created by Moors who had ‘converted’ to Christianity during the reconquest. Seeing Arabic scripture in a Catholic place of worship I think might be a uniquely Spanish feature – showing how much the country is built upon various cultures throughout history.

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A beautiful and interesting place to visit in Burgos! The local area also has a sweet little pueblo vibe with cafes and bars for the families. Every day I fall in love with this city some more!

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