Spain // Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura //

The Monasterio de Yuste

There is nothing especially dramatic about the Monasterio de Yuste, the retreat created by Carlos V after renouncing his empire: just a simple beauty and the rather stark accoutrements of the emperor’s last years. The monastery, which is signposted from Cuacos de Yuste on the Jarandilla–Plasencia road, had existed here for over a century before Carlos’ retirement and he had earmarked the site for some years, planning his modest additions – which included a pleasure garden – while still ruling his empire from Flanders. He retired here with a retinue that included an Italian clockmaker, Juanuelo Turriano, whose inventions were his last passion.

The imperial apartments are draped throughout in black, and exhibits include the little sedan chair in which Carlos was brought here, and another designed to support the old man’s gouty legs. If you believe the guide, the bed and even the sheets are the very ones in which the emperor died, though since the place was sacked during the Peninsular Wars and deserted for years after the suppression of the monasteries, this seems unlikely. A door by the emperor’s bed opens out over the church and altar so that even in his final illness he never missed a service. Outside, there’s a snack bar and picnic spots, and you’ll find a track signposted through the woods to Garganta La Olla.

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