As we were on the Romeria of Alcalá del Valle last week we visited the Monastery of Caños Santos on which premises the bigger part of the activities take place.
It was sad to see that the building a decade ago restored, is starting to fall apart again since it is not being used.
Located some 3 km from El Guarda, the monastery was constructed in 1542. For many years it was the seat of the old patrona of the city of Olvera, the Holy Virgin of Caño, an image of her was kept there by the local Franciscan friars who inhabited the interior. In 1835 they were expelled and the monastery confiscated and abandoned. The image of the Holy Virgin of Caño was moved permanently to the near by village of Cañete la Real, where she is now is the patron
After many years, when the building was all but lost, the Junta de Andalusia decided to restore it. Although the monument is within the municipality of Olvera, this monastery is property of the city council of Alcala del Valle.
Within the grounds are the entrances to two grotto’s where legend has it that after the Moorish invasion of Spain in the 8th century, local inhabitants hid an image of their patron “Nuestra Señora de Caños Santos”. After the defeat of the Moors, the Virgen was re-discovered by a shepard in 1512 and a small chapel was built on the site followed shortly after by the convent which was inhabited by some 50 Franciscan monks. In one these grotto’s – according to popular belief – the Virgin that gave name to the convent appeared.
We have had the pleasure to visit the interior of the Convento once and has a great atmosphere, even with newly built modern annex to it. The building construction is a typical convent, where church and cloister are the cornerstones around which the remaining units are organized.
The bell tower deserves special attention, it stands on one side of the façade. From the top one nice views over the valley and also into the courtyard of the monastery.
The convent is no longer used for religious purposes, just for local fiestas and is actually not open to the public after undergoing extensive renovation a few years ago. At what must have cost quite a few Euros, or more, the intention was to turn the building into a hotel, but regrettably funding ran out.
Sadly, due to this lack of use and occupancy, the building is deteriorating and vandals have left their mark. However, despite this the convent is still worth a visit for its tranquillity, location and fantastic views. May be a good location for the next Cortijo/Convento El Guarda after all…..