In a remote corner of Badajoz province, high up in the mountain is the Tentudía monastery. A building surrounded by stunning hilly landscapes, and built to honour a miracle which took place on these lands centuries ago. Or so they say.
If you’re planning a visit to the south of Badajoz, keep reading and pin this article for future reference during the planning stage of your trip!
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In the 13th century Christians were fighting the Moorish to regain control of the area. The legend has it that the night was approaching and the Christian troops were struggling. Their captain, fearing they wouldn’t have much chance of winning during the night, called on Virgin Mary for help.
“¡Santa María, detén tu día!” (Saint Mary, stop the day!)
After pronouncing the magic words, the miracle happened. The sun remained on the horizon until the fight was over and the Christians had won. To honour such a miraculous event, the captain ordered the construction of a chapel dedicated to Saint Mary.
The Monastery and the views
The chapel was subsequently refurbished and extended several times. In the 16th century, the building was declared a Monastery by the Pope at the time, which meant more privileges to the Order in charge.
The Monastery sits on the highest peak in Badajoz’s province, the Pico de Tentudía, located on the Tentudía mountain range at about 1100 m above sea level. The mountain range serves as the natural border between Extremadura and Andalusia.
Driving up the single-track road (BAV-3002) is quite fun, and you can spot some Iberian piggies on the way! You can’t get lost, as the road ends at the top. It just ends. No roundabout or anything. No paved parking slots. You just park where you can (for free) and then reverse back into the road when you leave. Things could get messy if many people decided to come here at the same time, but I don’t think that happens often. We visited the Monastery during Easter (peak time for Extremadura as a tourist destination) and it was just us, another car and a few cats roaming around.
The entry ticket to the monastery costs €1, and it gives you access to the ground floor of the building. Visit the church and pay attention to the altarpiece, made of tiles by Niculoso Pisano, a 16th-century, Seville-based, Italian artist. On both sides of the church there are funeral chapels which display (apart from tombs, of course), colourful wall decorations made of tiles and exposed brick arches.
The different rooms of the monastery are arranged around a small courtyard and is worth a look. Mind you, from indoors only – unfortunately, you’re not allowed to step outside. It was pouring down when we went (you can tell from the picture below), so we wouldn’t have gone outside anyway, but it’s a pity.
After the visit, we had to run to the car and kill some time there before venturing outside. The wait was worth it, though. We were rewarded with the sight of a rainbow, a nice breeze and the pleasant smell of wet grass. I love visiting Extremadura in spring. The weather can be quite unpredictable, but the countryside just looks gorgeous.
The views are pretty amazing, from both sides of the monastery. Near the monastery is all about pine trees, and further down you’ll see the dehesa, the pigs’ home. The dark green hills turn blue in the distance, and you’ll be able to spot several towns on a clear day.
How to get there
From Monesterio (25 minutes): EX-103 to Calera de León (5.8km). Turn left into BAV-3002 and drive up to the Monastery, where the road ends (8.2km).
From Fregenal de la Sierra (46 minutes): EX201 direction Seville for 17 km. Turn left into EX103 to Calera de León (17 km), then turn right into BAV-3002 and drive up to the Monastery.
Opening times: (May-September) Tue-Sun 11am–6pm; (November-April) Tue-Sun 10am–5pm.
If you’ve been to Extremadura before you’ll know opening times can be quite tricky here. They may change before or during Bank Holidays and the information on the official websites isn’t always updated. If you want to call before you visit to make sure it’s open when you plan to go, here’s the number: (+34) 924149092.
GPS coordinates: Latitud: 38.054132 | Longitud: -6.338489.
The Monastery on a map
Nearby places you may want to check:
- Monasterio’s Ham Museum. Learn more about the famous Iberian pigs, ham production and pig-related traditions. Where: Paseo de Extremadura 314, 06260, Monesterio.
- Fregenal de la Sierra: a quirky little town where you can visit, among other things, a covered market and a bullring inside a 13th century castle.
- Accommodation option: Mirador de Fuentes, Fuentes de León (39 minutes away from the Monastery).