Monastery of La Encarnacion
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The Monastery of La Encarnación was founded inside the town’s walls in 1478, and as a Carmelite convent it was moved to outside the town in the 16th century. The new monastery was built on land that had been acquired by the Council on what had previously been a Jewish cemetery.
On 4 April 1515, the date on which the saint was baptised, the unfinished monastery was opened with four naves enclosing a central courtyard and a cloister with two levels. At the end of the 16th century, the room used by Teresa of Jesus became an oratory and the idea was to build a chapel, which was not opened until 1717. The current chapel of La Transverberación has four main arches and a hemispherical dome.
The interior of the original church was changed in the 18th century and adapted to the Baroque style. The building has a Latin-cross layout with one single nave covered by a barrel vault and cupola with scallops and lantern. The altars and altarpieces also boast a Baroque style. The large steeple was built in 1715 and stands out on the south side of the monastery.
The monastery is one of the essential places of the life of Teresa of Ávila and was where she lived almost continuously between 1535 and 1574. When Teresa de Cepeda entered the Carmelite Order without her father’s permission, the monastery was one of the most popular in the town. It owned a great deal of property and, as in many others, convent life was not strict and there were great social differences between the nuns. In La Encarnación, she was given counsel by Francisco de Borja, Juan de la Cruz and Pedro de Alcántara, and the monastery was where preparations were made for the Reform of the Carmelite Order.
The convent is also home to the museum of St Teresa. One of the most interesting pieces in the museum is a drawing of Christ on the Cross by St John of the Cross.
It was designated a National Monument in 1983.