Saint John of Ortega, a disciple and companion of Domingo Garcías, founded a hospital and chapel here in the early 12th century. In 1138, Pope Innocent II placed the hermitage under his personal protection. The area, originally impassable and inhabited by wild animals and feared because of bands of robbers, was made accessible to the pilgrim traffic of the time at Ortega's instigation. In 1150, the construction of the monastery church began, most of which has been preserved from that time, and which also houses the Romanesque tomb of the founder. Today, in the spirit of St. Ortega, the monastery houses a pilgrim hostel.
San Juan de Ortega (photo with crane retouched away, April 2013)
The Romanesque tomb of Ortega with Gothic canopy. His coffin is in the crypt below.
Sarcophagus with reliefs, front: Christ and the 12 apostles
The Romanesque capitals in the church are interesting. I was particularly fascinated by one of them.
Three-part Romanesque capital with Christmas scenes.
1) Annunciation of Mary, the Archangel Gabriel kneels before Mary.
2) Mary visits Elizabeth, they embrace. A maid stands to your left.
3) An angel announces the mystery of the birth of Christ to Joseph. The angel hovers over Joseph.
In the center, the birth of Christ, Mary lies in the puerperium, the midwife behind her holds her head and in the manger already lies the baby Jesus.
Photos: Gerhard Eichinger