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Monastery of San Juan de la Peña

Jaca, Huesca

Throughout history, many people have spent some stage of their lives looking for the Holy Grail: King Arthur, Hitler, Indiana Jones, Captain Thunder and so on. But the search for the cup that Jesus used in the Last Supper, which is the typical search in Europe’s Christian traditions, has always been a complicated thing.

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Throughout history, many people have spent some stage of their lives looking for the Holy Grail: King Arthur, Hitler, Indiana Jones, Captain Thunder and so on. But the search for the cup that Jesus used in the Last Supper, which is the typical search in Europe’s Christian traditions, has always been a complicated thing.

The thing is that there are many places which claim to keep the authentic Grail and defend that authenticity with better or worse arguments. One of them is the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña, a Romanesque gem fitted under a giant rock.

After being stunned by the surroundings for a while, you might think that you are ready to go inside and look for the sacred vessel made of gold and precious stones. Well, we are sorry to disappoint you, because today, in San Juan all you will find is a replica, although tradition says that in this monastery the original was kept for many centuries, until it was moved and ended up in Valencia, or in Montserrat, or in Leon, or perhaps in the basement of your in-law’s house…

Leaving this exciting story to one side, we also find amazing the origin of the monastery. History places here a monastic centre in the tenth century, but the legend, which part of it is probably true as it usually is, recedes even more, to the year seven-hundred and something.

Its foundation is attributed to a knight whom St. John saved from death, and who after the incident decided to retreat from worldly life and honour his saviour. Legend adds that under the giant rock, a bunch of Christian warriors chose as their leader a certain Garci Ximenez and then, they proceeded to beat the Muslims.

But as it always happens … Time goes by, and the old Monastery of San Juan de la Peña went downhill once reached the twelfth century, a decline accelerated by debts, lawsuits, deterioration of the building and, as usual, the fires. The one of 1675 was so terrible that they had no choice but to build a new one in the vicinity to welcome the community.

San Juan is also the Pantheon of several of the kings of Aragon and Navarre. Its cloister is a wonder, its location is a wonder, and its history and legend are both wonderful. We can assure you that is one of those places that will not leave you indifferent.


Monastery of San Juan de la Peña

Carretera A-1603, s/n
22711 Jaca
(+34) 974 35 51 19

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