Who has not heard of the Monastery of Stone ?. Not long ago they asked me about a place in the province of Saragossa Of which they did not remember his name. They described it as follows. A place with impressive waterfalls, one like a ponytail, a lake of crystalline waters which reflected a small mountain and especially water, water everywhere. Who would say it, but in the middle of Zaragoza and not far from the Monegros desert there is a place called the Monasterio de Piedra.
A little history
We have to go back to the time of the reconquest, when the Stone Monastery was an old Muslim fortress that yielded Alfonso II of Aragon to the church next to the places that surrounded him, like the impressive stone river. In 1218 the monastery was completed in record time, no less than 23 years, very little time for those times.
For more than 650 years the monks were able to live in the monastery and cultivate the fields around the Piedra river in an oasis of peace, but it was already occupied during the 18th century during the War of Independence and later by the French army, at which time it was partially destroyed and its images mutilated. Since 1835, with theConfiscation of Mendizábal, the monks had to leave the monastery and their lands were expropriated, since the State needed money for the expense so great that the American colonies caused.
In 1840 it passed into private hands in a public auction and it was not until 1983 when it was declaredNational Monument.
Visit to the stone monastery
It is easily accessed by a county road from the highway Barcelona. It is curious to see the landscape of this area of Zaragoza, very dry in summer, and that unless you go on purpose you do not expect to find a place hidden as green and full of vegetation as is the Monasterio de Piedra.
Upon arrival at the Monasterio de Piedra the first thing you see is thefree parking, just to the right of the entrance to the monumental complex and the park.
In the same entry there are several restaurants and a spectacular hotel, the old monastery abbey. In this Hotel spa of Zaragoza it is a classic to taste the Traditional food from the area as well as celebrate weddings and banquets. In my opinion, it is not far from a Parador, but within a place of story.
The Stone Monastery complex is divided into two large areas. The first and the best known, the park, and the second and most monumental abbey or monastery.
The entry for adults it costs € 15 and for children from 4 to 11 years and the elderly a little less, € 11.
The park area is a small network of well-marked trails and that in a single morning you can tour the entire site. At the same entrance they will provide you with a map with all the trails and the main points of interest such as the ones shown below.
Highlights of the Monasterio de Piedra
Diana's Bath are the first jumps you can see when you enter the park. They are a set of small waterfalls that surround the great waterfall of La Caprichosa.
La Caprichosa waterfall
It is the first large waterfall you find when you enter the park about 10 minutes walk along the main road. It is easy to feel it in the distance both by its thunderous noise and by the water vapor that it releases in the fall.
Waterfall the whimsical
Grotto Iris crosses the bowels of the Ponytail. It is a succession of viewpoints that start from the top to a large cave at the foot of this beautiful waterfall. It is of course the star of this park.
In the ponytail
Throughout the cave you reach a large cavern just below the Cola de Caballo waterfall, dark and very humid. It is one of the moments when you will feel the water more closely, since you will get wet by the drops that fall from the ceiling of the cave.
The Horsetail, with its 50 m height, is the park major and is accessible in the second stage of the park itinerary. Although it is not easy to photograph it, the light is not always at your disposal, just watching its water fall is more than enough to be able to feel its strength and take an impression home.
Mirror Lake and Peña del Diablo
To be able to contemplate the magnetism and beauty of this place, you have to go when the sunlight is completely vertical or when the sunset begins. The canyon is so narrow that it prevents light from entering to admire the true reflections of this lake.
Every day at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. there is a show with birds, among which are owls, vultures, vultures, owls and eagles like the one below.
In such clean water, one of the classics of the high mountain rivers, the trouts, present in the multitude of fish farms that are inside the park, cannot be missing.
The monumental complex
In the area of the monumental complex, the monastery cloister, the abbey, the tribute tower, the perimeter wall and the facade of the old inn stand out.
Within the monumental complex you can visit the wine museum, an interesting option especially because a guided tour is included with the entrance.
Finally, we can summarize that the Monasterio de Piedra is an ideal option to spend a good morning through one of the most beautiful corners of Spain. It is true that it is a place with a lot of charm and a perfect place to visit as a family, both for the accessibility for the ease of the tours.
Within the whole complex in addition to the roads or the monumental complex you can have the option of renting a small carriage for about € 5 to surround the complex by visiting the old wall, the Gayarre Cross, the tower of tribute and the old Abbey. It is clear that there are options for everyone, but personally I prefer to kick and explore the small recesses that this little gem of nature hides.
We recommend that you also go to Belchite, to know one of the villages that suffered the most from the Spanish Civil War
When to go?
The best times to visit the Monasterio de Piedra are the spring and autumn, for the change of colors and for having the most colorful seasons. Winter stands out if you are lucky enough to be able to go on a snowy day, since the landscape changes radically and the most spectacular photographs are obtained.
How to get?
To reach these places with charm you have to travel almost 105km from Saragossa or 229km from Madrid. To access the complex the best way is to take the A2 and exit at the exit of km 204 (Alhama de Aragón) if you come from Madrid or by km 231 (Nuévalos) if you come from Zaragoza or Barcelona.
Where to eat / dine?
There are several restaurants at the entrance of the complex, but a few kilometers near Move them there are several restaurants on the road with good menus and beautiful views of the reservoir.
Where to sleep?
The cheaper options are in Calatayud, since it has enough hotel offer. Besides, it is a good place to go out at night because of the quantity and variety of restaurants in the city. The other option and possibly the most romantic is to sleep in the abbey inside the stone monastery, but of course, go preparing to loosen the wallet.