Guadalupe is an atmospheric little town, picturesque too, practically a village, built around the Virgin Mary. And that's not just a fairy tale, it's history. For here, upon the shores of the Guadalupe River, back in the 13th century, a wandering shepherd discovered a figurine of the Blessed Virgin, ostensibly hidden, dating from the 8th century when these lands belonged to the Islamic Moors. A chapel was quickly built at the site of the discovery to house the figurine, dedicated to "Our Lady of Guadalupe." King Alfonso XI of Spain, a frequent visitor to the shrine, soon added to it and the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe emerged. It is this monastery that now dominates the old town and its plaza, and is the principal reason for visiting Guadalupe.
Guadalupe itself is a thoroughly enchanting town, with narrow, winding medieval streets, crowded with old, whitewashed two-story houses with red-tile roofs and ground-floor porticos, and an ancient plaza with a small assortment of restaurants and cafés that lap up the sun. The town's location is just as unlikely: rural and remote, surrounded by woods in the valley of Las Villuercas. Life moves slowly in the village of the patron Saint Mary.
Guadalupe is situated in the southwestern Spanish province of Extremadura, east of Cáceres (77 miles) and Trujillo (50 miles) and west of Toledo (132 miles). It has a population of barely 2,000.
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