As our flight home wasn´t until late evening, our final day gave us the opportunity to revisit many of the places that we had particularly enjoyed during the previous days.  We wandered into the magnificent Hostal de los Reyes Católicos also known as the Royal Hospital, which was ordered to be built by the Catholic Monarchs to provide accommodation for pilgrims.  Built between 1501 and 1511, the building was reformed during the baroque period.  It is now one of the most luxurious paradores …. state-run hotels, in Spain.

The monastery of San Martin Pinario where we are staying was built in 1494.  It was founded by a group of Italian Benedictine monks in order to watch over the mortal remains of the Apostle, St James and to pray. The name Pinario comes from the pines which were in the place where they founded the first chapel in the 11th century. Later on, when the order achieved more splendour they built the church and the monastery in 1494. It is one of the most important baroque buildings in Spain, together with the Cathedral, and one of the biggest of the country. Four doric columns are the frame of the door and the image of Saint Benedict is in the centre. The upper structure consists of a coat of arms from Spain.  The image of Saint Martin from Tours on horseback sharing his cloak with a poor person, was added by Fernando de Casas in the 17th century. In this century the monastery suffered other modifications that ended in its current appearance, which shows a wide range of styles. Nowadays, the building is a museum, a hall of residences for men, occasionally an hotel from June until September and, mainly, the See of the Main Seminary and the school of Theology.

The monastery church is entered from nearby Plaza de San Martin, unusually by a descending flight of steps.  The church has a groundplan in the form of a Latin cross, and makes excellent use of the light which enteres through its ribbed dome.  The outstanding feature of the interior is the richly-ornamented high altarpiece.  This, along with the organs, choirstalls and various chapels, combine to make this church an exceptional museum of baroque art.  We spent quite a while inside the church and were fortunate during most of that time to be the only people there.

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