The Monastery of Santo Tomás de Ávila


South of the city ofÁvila is the Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás, a place that being separated from the historic center is forgotten by many tourists who focus exclusively on the walled area. Also inside two interesting museums await us with elements brought from the missions of theDominicans, forming a museum of oriental art and another of natural sciences.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

A little history about the Monastery of Santo Tomás

During the spring of the year 1482, the construction of a Convent for the Dominicans In honor to Saint Thomas of Aquino. Over time the budget problems made the very onesCatholic kings will enter the scene allowing to finish its construction. In fact it was the place chosen for his son's grave the prince john and as a summer residence after the construction of the cloisters of silence and the Kings.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

The place being run by the tireless Dominican travelers, who took their faith to various areas of Asia like China, Japan and the Philippines, he made magnificent spectacular ornamental and natural pieces that allowed two museums to be created, the so-called Oriental art museum, the most beautiful of all, and the Natural Science Museum What really should be called the Taxidermy Museum when it houses a large collection of dissected animals such as lions, snakes, bears, crocodiles, several breeds of primates, sloths, ..., etc.

Our visit to the Monastery of Santo Tomás

It is eleven o'clock in the morning of any Saturday of summer. After arriving at the door of the Monastery and paying the 4€ input with audio guide included, we set out to follow the map that had been delivered to us at the entrance. The first thing that struck us was the almost complete absence of tourists from the complex. This was for us alone and we could enjoy it without pushing, people passing in front of the cameras and of course without any noise except for the hundreds of swallows that roamed the three cloisters.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás - Cloister of the Novitiate

The Monastery is divided into three cloisters, a church, two museums and the rooms of the old palace. The first thing we visited as soon as we passed through the entrance was the Cloister of the Novitiate or Nursing, the oldest, smallest and most austere of all. From here we pass quickly to Cloister of Silence lower where there is an entrance to the Church and some stairs that go up to the Chorus, (upper part of the Church). There is also a very special site, the Santa Teresa confessional where he had one of his visions.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás - Cloister of Silence

The Cloister is surrounded by several corridors with rosettes that were placed in the previous century and where we will see curious figures like a lion and a monkey. Of what remains no apparent remainder was the place where the religious were once buried. From here we climb some stairs in the direction of Chorus having a very nice view of the cloister from the second floor.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

Once in the Choir, the views we have of the church are fantastic. Right from where the kings Isabel and Fernando attended mass during the summer months. Today it is used exclusively for choirs that encourage weddings.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

Later we returned to the second floor of Cloister of Silence to take the same stairs where we had climbed. At that time we found the first two tourists, of German origin but with a frankly good Spanish. They were accompanied by one of the religious of the place who in their spare time did guide work completely free.

Once down we crossed the cool halls until we found the door that would take us to the last of the cloisters, the Cloister of the Kings, the largest of them all and despite its rather austere name at the level of ornamentation but still very beautiful.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

Of all the cloisters it is the largest with difference and gives access to other places such as the Magna classroom and the two museums. Of the latter, the Museum of Oriental Art is where the royal halls, Only the floors and some of their old structures remain from the time of the kings.

The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás - Cloister of the Kings

As a climax to the visit we pass through the two small museums. That of natural Sciences what else could happen to be called as a museum of the Taxidermy, being full of stuffed animals from at least five continents and that many of them were probably caught by guns after seeing the occasional gunshot wound. On the other hand, the other museum, much larger than the previous one, contained numerous pieces of oriental art mainly from China and with numerous descriptive notes that made the visit very enjoyable.

Monastery of Santo Tomás - Museums

With all this our visit to the Monastery was terminated since the sepulcher of the prince john, whose remains have disappeared, it was closed after beginning the mass of the day but at least we could see from the top of the Choir.

Practical data The Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás

When does it cost to visit the Monastery of Santo Tomás?

Your visit costs only 4€ and it includes the visit to the two museums and the audio guide. The visiting hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 1930 a.m., not admitting visitors one hour before closing.

Recommendations for the visit

Avoid mass schedules between 12:00 (Sundays) and 13:00 Saturdays mainly. During that time the visit to the church is not allowed except for the Choir.

Where to eat in Ávila?

We have had the opportunity to try the following restaurants and any of them is a sure hit:

  • The ranch : perhaps the best steak in the city.
  • Caraway : located in front of the cathedral and with good meats.
  • The stonecutters: the only one that is not in the city but in the nearby town of Mingorría. His ribeye well deserves the displacement ...
  • Palace of the Velada : spectacular terrace over an old palace. Ideal for coffee.
  • The Slab Mill : Located on the bank of the Adaja river next to an old mill, giving it magnificent views of the wall.
  • The store : one of the most glamorous restaurants in the city.
  • The Cancels : restaurant and hotel with a beautiful terrace located within the wall.

Where to sleep in Ávila?

  • Hotel Valderrábanos: located in front of the cathedral.
  • Palacio de los Velada: spectacular setting in the historical caste.
  • Hotel Fontecruz Avila Golf: out of town but with services such as a nearby golf course and swimming pool.
  • Hotel H2 Ávila: located a little away from the historic center but with moderate prices and good services.

Other places little frequented by Ávila

  • The Risco Monastery.
  • What to see in Ávila.

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