The cistercian monks lived in this monastery for almost 700 years
The foundation of the Monasterio de Piedra is part of a brilliant chapter of the expansion of the Cistercian Order through the Iberian Peninsula.
In 1186, Alfonso II of Aragon and his wife, Sancha of Castilla donated to the monks of Poblet the “Castillo de Piedra” (Castrum Petrae), to build a Cistercian monastery. Between 1186 and 1194 preparations were made and on May 10th 1194, 12 monks left the Catalan monastery with Gaufrido of Rocaberti, the first Abbot of the new monastery,at the head. His powerful relatives, nobles and bishops, both from the clergy and nobility, provided the best protection and support to the new foundation.
Gaufrido wanted to establish the community somewhere within the territory of the Kingdom of Aragon. There were three different locations before the final one was chosen.
“Monasterio de Piedra Nueva”
In May 1195, Alfonso II confirmed his donation to the monks and granted them full domain and jurisdiction. The original document of the donation, where it is written that the monks had the obligation of praying an annual mass for the soul of the king and his relatives, is preserved in the National HistoricArchivein Madrid.
So finally, from 1203, the Cistercian monks were the unique owners of the property: about 30 km2, divided between the current terms of Nuévalos, Ibdes and Monterde.
Before building the ultimate Abbey, they settled on the left bank of the river Piedra, and built aprovisional monastery in wood and adobenamed Piedra Vieja. At this site, the monks built once installed on today’ssite of the monastery, a chapel called Santa Maria de los Argalides. Reformed in 1755, today is locallyknown as the “Ermita de la Blanca” and it is visible from the terraces of the hotel, aswell as from some parts of of the park.
The Monasterio de Piedra Nueva was the fourth and final location. The buildings started to be constructed in 1203 and in 1218 the monks were able to occupy them. On December 16, 1218, the ceremony of translation of the Community from Piedra Vieja to Piedra Nueva took place and the consecration of the Abbey’s Church was presided by the fourth Abbotof the Monastery, Jimeno Martin, along with the most important representatives of the clergy of the area.
Exceptional witness of the history of Spain
Today, the Abbey’s Church is in ruins due to years of neglect and consequent lootings suffered by the monastery in the nineteenth century, after Mendizabal’s confiscation.
The Monasterio de Piedra suffered three confiscation processes:
In 1809, during the war of Independence, the monks were expelled and the French army sacked the Abbey, transformed into a hospital. In 1814, after the war, Fernando VII allowed the survivingmonks to rebuild their Community.
In 1820, during what got to be known as the liberal triennium, the Monastery was again suppressed, his assets were inventoried, nationalized and some of them auctioned. In 1823, following the entry of the 100,000 sons of San Luis, the Community was restored.
Finally, in 1835 the Regent Queen Maria Cristina signed the Mendizabal’sdecree to help finance the Carlist wars. It was the definitive end of the Community of the Monasterio de Piedra. The goods were inventoried and auctioned in Ateca, Zaragoza and Madrid between 1840 and 1850. The buildings were used by officials until 1843, date on which they were auctioned and purchased by D. Pablo Muntadas Campeny.
His son, Juan Federico Muntadas, as owner of the Monasterio de Piedra, transformed the existing orchard into a stunning landscaped garden full of waterfalls and incredible vegetation, and the monastic buildings into a hotel and hydrotherapic installation.
From then until now, the Monasterio de Piedra has been and is a prime tourist destination. Listed as a National Monument on February 16, 1983 (today, of Cultural Interest in the Monument category), it is one of the most unique areas in Europe, where nature and history create a spectacular setting.
Monasterio de Piedra was also awarded with the Medal for Merit in Tourism by the Government of Aragon in 2011.