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Montesión Monastery

, Cazorla


Solitude and isolation are two words that come to people’s minds when they visit Montesión monastery in Cazorla. Every year, however, it springs to life on the last Sunday in September, when there is a procession up to the monastery; although for the rest of the year it is only occupied by one person, owing to its dangerous state of disrepair. Visitors will be able to discern traces of the different periods of its construction, with the earliest sections dating back to 1625. Monasteries dedicated to St Paul and St Anthony the Abbott are known for their poverty and austerity, as you will note if you explore Montesión.

The evidence can be seen in the poor quality of the materials and in the spartan furnishings; the only real noteworthy elements are the chapel section, laid out in the shape of a Latin cross, and the dome in which a number of frescoes have been preserved.

Perhaps this monastery was founded as a result of the hardships of the 17th century, when poor harvests, famine and severe weather led to outbreaks of the much-feared Plague. The Order of St Anthony the Abbott was devoted to the curing of diseases, and fear of contagion caused these buildings to be erected far away from population centres. Along with the Plague, the economic crisis, rising prices, war and general hardship resulted in an increase in the number of clergymen and religious organisations, all within a context in which the monarchy offered a contradictory vision that swung between misery and splendour, progress and decline.

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