December 8, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Travel, Travels in Spain


This last weekend was what is known as the December “puente,” (or bridge). This is because today, Tuesday, is a holiday, therefore everyone takes Monday off and goes on holiday for the four day weekend. Last weekend, Jacob planned a getaway for us at the Monasterio de Piedra (Monastery of Rock), located in the province of Zaragoza – an area I had yet to really explore.

We arrived there on Saturday morning, checked into our room at the monastery, and immediately headed out (along with our gloves, hats and coats) to check out the surrounding grounds. This monastery is less known for the monastery itself, and more for the large piece of land it sits on. Every bit of the land is covered with trickling creeks, streams, and rivers. In some bizarre way, it reminded me of the Alhambra in Granada (one of my favorite places on earth), which has water running throughout it like veins in one’s body. But this was nature’s Alhambra, which meant that it couldn’t all be peaceful creeks. I could hear the sound of falling water from the monastery, and as I got closer to the more mountainous part of the land, it became rather deafening. Just a five minute walk from the monastery and you encounter countless gushing waterfalls. It seemed like a volcano of waterfalls – water seeping out of every hole and fissure in the mountainside, as if it were erupting from somewhere within. I still can’t fathom where all that water comes from. I tried to put myself to sleep one of the nights there just trying to imagine how a waterfall must begin…it kind of gave me a headache though.

The property is pretty vast, so we were able to walk up, down, in and all around – from the bottoms to the tops of waterfalls, in caves, and over creeks. We were even able to trek behind a massive waterfall, deep into the mossy cave behind it. It was breathtaking, and sadly impossible to capture on camera (well, on mine anyway…hint, hint mom….xmas list 😉 ). We also were able to see the vast fish ponds they have (I later ate one of the trout at the monastery restaurant), as well as a small lake called “Mirror Lake” with the most crystal clear and still water I’ve seen in my life. It’s clarity was hypnotizing because you could see every leaf, rock and fish as though it were just inches away and frozen silently in time.

The monastery’s land was pretty impressive, and while the monastery too was impressive, I would definitely recommend staying elsewhere. The building was very charming, but our bed seemed to be preserved from the monk days hundreds of years ago – in that it was terribly uncomfortable and hardly fit someone of my height, much less someone like Jacob. Next time I go to the monastery, I would likely stay either in Zaragoza (1 hour+) or Calatayud (only about 30 minutes away) where you can find reasonable hotels and more things to do and see nearby (not to mention a selection restaurants).

Since there wasn’t much else to do at the monastery, we ended up visiting several other places on this same trip. I’ll get to those in the next blog though.