HISTORIA DEL REAL MONASTERIO DE SANTA MARÍA DE EL PAULAR
On August 29, 1390, Castile´s King Juan I by testamentary disposition of his father Enrique II, donated to the Carthusian order, his palaces of El Poblar, old hunting lodge since the time of Alfonso XI. Don Juan Serrano, Bishop of Sigüenza, made to Dom Lope Martínez, monk of Scala Dei and native of Segovia, the transfer and canonical collation of the hermitage located there, whose name was that of Santa María del Poblar. Thus began the construction of the first charterhouse in Castile and the sixth of the Carthusian foundations in Spain.
Located in the incomparable geographical setting of the Lozoya valley, one and a half kilometers from the town of Rascafría and 90 kilometers from the capital of Spain. The Charterhouse of El Paular belonged to the province of Segovia until 1834, when it became part of the province of Madrid.
In its beginnings, the monastery was built around the old hermitage located next to the hunting pantheon and the Trastamara palace, called the Chapel of the Kings. The first construction stage is directed by the architect D. Rodrigo Alfonso (master of the Cathedral of Sta. M. de Toledo), followed by Gil Fernández, who began the works of the current church in 1406. From 1433, the moorish segovian Abderramán would take over. The Mudejar influences present in the monument are due to him, such as the pulpit of the refectory.
When Juan II and Catholic Monarchs the construction of the Monastery is accelerated with the direction of Juan Guas, Queen Isabel´s architect and the manager of the old cathedral of Segovia disappeared by a fire during the war of the communities . From this period are the imposing main cloister and the vault of the atrium with a clear late Gothic influence of transition to Plateresque
At the end of the XV century or beginning of the XVI was built one the greatest artistic jewels of the monastery: the main altarpiece of the church. On his authorship there are many theories. It is Spanish-Flemish style, represents the life and death of Christ, carved in alabaster and polychrome, something unusual in Castilla. It have a large-scale (9x13 m) profuse in exquisite details, with large gothic tracery.
In the S. XVI Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, native of Rascafría, (master of the Segovia and Salamanca cathedrals) left his Renaissance stamp doorway Ave María forecurt.
El Paular became one of the most powerful charterhouses on the European continent during its first four and a half centuries of existence. Its economic importance was remarkable, since it had, among other sources of income, a royal herd with 86,000 merino sheep and in its “paper mill” Los Batanes, the paper was made from which the editio princeps del Quijote was printed. Its rustic and urban possessions, grouped around the Conrería located in Talamanca del Jarama and in the manor of Getafe (Madrid), were immense, in such a way that they were known with the suggestive nickname of "ministry of treasury of the Carthusians" . With the money obtained, it was possible to pay for the construction of the charterhouse of Granada in 1515.
The maximum exponent of the Carthusian splendor will be the masterpiece of Vicente Carducho. He painted 56 large paintings to cover as many gaps in the cloister of the Carthusian monastery of Santa María del Paular, between 1626 and 1632. These paintings measure ten square meters each, and are known as the Carthusian Series and narrate the life of the founder of the Carthusian Order, San Bruno de Colonia, as well as the history of the Order. It was commissioned by Prior Juan de Baeza and they cost 130,000 reais.
The consecration of the Church by Monsignor Melchor Moscoso, bishop of Segovia, in 1629, supposed the architectural transition to the Baroque, which culminated in the repairs imposed by the earthquake of 1755. At this stage the octagonal chapel of the Tabernacle was added, enlarged by the Overwhelming Transparent, one of the greatest exponents of the Spanish Baroque.
With the war of independence at the beginning of the XIX century and later the confiscation of 1835, religious life was interrupted. In 1844, the State sold the monastic complex to Rafael Sánchez Merino for 40,000 duros with the contractual condition of preserving its historical-artistic heritage. Faced with the breach of this due to the burdensome duty, the State, 20 years later, bought it from the family for 60,000 dollars.
In 1876, at the request of the Academy of Fine Arts, it was declared a national historical-artistic monument on behalf of the monastery. In 1903 lightning destroyed the spire of the church tower and caused a fire with major consequences. This did not prevent the monastery from housing within its walls intellectuals of the time. First, the Free Institution of Education, with Don Francisco Giner de los Ríos, who chose it as a destination for the excursions of his pupils. Later, between 1918 and 1953, the landscape scholarship for retired painters was installed in El Paular.
The painters of El Paular
Landscape Residence, was created by R. O on February 22, 1918 and received the first painters students in the months of June, July, August and September of the same year. At the same time it was erected as a summer resort for famous people such as Enrique de Mesa, Menéndez Pidal, Ibáñez Marín, etc. However, the deterioration of the monastery is progressive despite restoration attempts, the most important being that carried out by the Muguruza family at the behest of the Marquis of Comillas in the 1920s.
Religious life returned again in 1942, at the wish of Francisco Franco, after a trip to Catalonia to the Monserrat monastery, he liked the religious environment so much that he had to move to Madrid and chose the Cartuja de El Paular, which in those moments was uninhabited. He offers it to its former inhabitants, the Carthusians, who reject it. The charterhouse is offered to a community of Benedictines in La Rioja, "La Abadía de Valvanera", whose monks arrived in El Paular on March 20, 1954. They are Benedictine monks, from the "Sublacense" Congregation, in charge of, among other tasks, take guided visits to the monastery and have a guesthouse, with a group of rooms, outside the enclosure, where they can welcome both men and women who wish to share a monastic experience.
The monumental complex of the monastery has been declared a Property of Cultural Interest with the category of National Historic-Artistic Monument since 1876, it is state-owned and attached to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.