Monastery of Yuste.

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Monasterio de Yuste

Top choice in Extremadura

In a lovely shady setting 1.5km northwest of Cuacos de Yuste, this monastery is where Carlos I of Spain (Charles I; also known as Carlos V of Austria) came in 1557 to prepare for death after abdicating his emperorship over much of Western and Central Europe. It's a soulful, evocative place amid the forested hills, and a tranquil counterpoint to the grandeur of so many formerly royal buildings elsewhere in Spain.

If you have an interest in Spanish history, it’s fascinating to see the royal apartments, including the bedroom where Carlos died on 21 September 1558. A doorway allowed this religious monarch to see, from his deathbed, the Hieronymite monks giving mass in the single-naved late-Gothic church alongside. Carlos was buried behind the high altar, but his son Felipe (Philip) II had him moved to El Escorial before his crypt was completed.

Two cloisters (one Gothic, one Renaissance-style), a collection of religious art and sculpture (as well as copies of Titians that Carlos brought with him), and a small lake surrounded by gardens are other notable features. In 2013, the site became a working monastery again after four Polish monks took up residence.

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