The Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña, set amid protected natural parkland 21km south of Jaca, is one of the most stunning sacred buildings in Aragón, if not in Spain. Tucked protectively under the overhang of a massive boulder, it’s built right into a rocky mountain: from certain angles, it’s hard to tell where man-made structure ends and nature begins. Dating from the ninth century, the monastery is named after a hermit who lived in solitude atop the towering cliff (peña). The monastery features a Romanesque church with twelfth-century murals and the Gothic San Victorián chapel, but the real standout is the elegant twelfth-century cloister, shaded by the bulging rock face that looms over it. The cloister has ornate capitals, some fully ringed by saints and apostles, depicting different scenes from the Bible.

In 1675, a fire in the monastery forced the monks to leave and build a newer one, which sits further up the hill. The Monasterio Nuevo (same hours as old monastery) features a helpful visitors’ centre and two interpretation centres, which chronicle the history of the monastery and the eventful lives of the Aragón’s kings and queens.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Beyond tapas: the Spanish food and drink you need to devour

Beyond tapas: the Spanish food and drink you need to devour

Spain is known throughout the world for its Mediterranean diet, heavily featuring seafood, meat and fresh vegetables, all splashed with a healthy dose of olive …

15 Aug 2016 • Esme Fox insert_drive_file Article
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

One of the sunniest and liveliest capital cities in Europe, Madrid has a lot to take pride in. Indeed, its inhabitants, the Madrileños, are so proud of their …

09 Aug 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Slow travel: exploring Catalunya’s back roads

Slow travel: exploring Catalunya’s back roads

Barcelona is one of the world’s most visited cities, but relatively few tourists venture beyond the suburbs. Yet, just a couple of hours’ drive from the met…

04 Aug 2016 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month