Parador de Almagro - 16th century convent (4*)
The Parador de Almagro offers guests the opportunity to spend the night in an enchanting former convent dating back to the 16th century and steeped in history.
This elegant and peaceful Parador is housed within the former Santa Catalina convent which was occupied by Franciscan monks from the early 17th to the 19th century. This particular Order's ethos of ‘prayer, preaching and work’ was more than a little austere. Records indicate that at midnight monks would leave their cells to begin a three-hour prayer in the church. After a short repose, bells would sound again to signal the onset of more prayer followed by mass and another prayer. At ten o’clock the monks would receive some refreshment before setting out at midday to begin a day of work as preachers in the neighbouring villages.
Today’s guests are assured of an altogether more laid-back experience and it is indeed sometimes difficult to believe that the Parador’s comfortable modern bedrooms were once monastic cells.
Among its many uses throughout history the Convent has also doubled up as a refuge for pilgrims who would pause on their travels to engage in some merriment and put on plays in an improvised theatre. The convert also served as a hospital between 1850 and 1878 before later being recovered by the Franciscan. Its current use as a Parador hotel was the result of the Franciscans decision to close the convent in 1942 due to diminishing numbers of monks.
Although in the centre of Almagro, the Parador offers serenity to its guests, the quiet of its many interior courtyards only disturbed by the sounds of fountains and the singing of birds. The hotel is also notable for its galleries and corridors, decorated with frescos, tapestries and latticework and original structures such as the Mudejar-style cloister. The style of the public rooms varies from the austerity of the Boardroom to the lavish Rococo of the Louis XV Room and the bodega-bar evoking the time of Cervantes.
The Parador also has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, allowing guests to cool off during the warmer summer months.