Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes (Monastery of Saint John of the Monarchs), Toledo

Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes (Monastery of Saint John of the Monarchs), Toledo (must see)

King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile were married in 1469. Isabella was 18. Ferdinand was one year younger. They were married in the city of Valladolid. It is said the unification of Spain began with this marriage. They became known as the "Catholic Monarchs" for their defense of the Church.

The Monastery of Saint John of the Monarchs is a Franciscan monastery built by the Catholic Monarchs between 1477-1504. Ferdinand and Isabella wished to commemorate the birth of their son, Prince John, and their victory over Afonso V of Portugal at the Battle of Toro in 1476.

The victory of Toro was ambiguous. One wing of the army of Portugal collapsed while the other prevailed. The victory was celebrated by both parties. A political victory for the Catholic Monarchs assured them the throne and the unification of Spain.

Initially, the monastery was named Saint John of the Monarchs (San Juan de la Reyna), built as the future mausoleum of the Catholic Monarchs. The plans changed in 1492 with the reconquest of Granada.

The Monastery of Saint John of the Monarchs, designed by architect Juan Guas in 1477, was dedicated for use by the Franciscan friars. In 1808, the building was severely damaged by Napoleonic troops during their occupation of Toledo. Restoration began in 1883 but was not completed until 1967.

The monastery is an example of the Isabelline Gothic style with Spanish and Flemish influences. Its church is in the form of a Latin cross. It has short arms and an elongated nave. There are side chapels between domed arches, three on each side of the nave and two under the choir. The chancel has a mid-16th century altar made by sculptor Felipe Bigarny and paintings of the Passion and the Resurrection by Francisco de Comontes.

The ground floor ceiling has German cross vaults with figures of saints, animals, and plants created by sculptor Cecilio Bejar in the 20th century. The upper cloisters of 1526 have a Larchwood ceiling painted with the arms of the Catholic Monarchs and the alleged prenuptial motto of Ferdinand and Isabella: "They amount to the same, the same they amount to."

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Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes (Monastery of Saint John of the Monarchs) on Map

Sight Name: Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes (Monastery of Saint John of the Monarchs)
Sight Location: Toledo, Spain (See walking tours in Toledo)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Toledo, Spain

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