Monday 5 November 2012


While researching the monasteries of Spain for my latest release, Dance of Love, I found this gem. The monastery of San Juan de la Peña is a religious complex south west of Jaca, in the province of Huesca, Spain. It was one of the most important monasteries in Aragón in the Middle Ages. The monastery is built in a natural cavern beneath a huge rock. Its two-level church is partially carved into the stone of the great cliff that overhangs the foundation. San Juan de la Peña means "Saint John of the Rock".

The lower church includes some mozarabic architectural surviving elements, although most of the parts of the monastery (including the impressive cloister, under the great rock) are Romanesque. After a fire in 1675, a new monastery was built. The old monastery (built in 920) was declared a National Monument on 13 July 1889, and the new monastery in 1923. In the 11th century the monastery became part of the Benedictine Order and was the first monastery in Spain to use the Latin Mass. In my story they are still using the Aragonese language.
Tucked into a natural cavern

The second floor contains a royal pantheon of kings of Aragon and Navarre. It contains the resting places of the following kings of Aragón: Ramiro I, Sancho Ramírez, and Peter I of Aragon and Navarre. Sancho Ramirez is the one we are interested in for Dance of Love. 

Legend said that the chalice of the Last Supper (Holy Grail) was sent to the monastery for protection and prevention from being captured by the Muslim invaders of the Iberian Peninsula.
The background of the cover is the interior of the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña