Spain's Black Madonna
The Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe, one of the most important monasteries in Spain
for more than four centuries, is located in the small town of Guadalupe. UNESCO declared the monastery a World Heritage Site in 1993. Not much else to see in this tiny town but a trip to see the Black Madonna seems to be a "must do" for middle–aged Spanish men who bring their aged mothers. Arrange to take a monk–led tour of the monastery. You'll find yourself face–to–face with the small wooden Madonna believed to have been carved by St. Luke in the 1st century. The Madonna was re-discovered, buried along the river bank, by a shepherd in the 13th century. The Mudéjar cloister (1389-1405), collection of priestly vestments with embroidered skulls and the Zurbarán paintings are also worth the visit. We stayed in the town's only parador and enjoyed drinks sitting under the patio's orange trees in the evenings.