This was a place we found on Trip Advisor – the Monasterio de Piedra Park. Searching for somewhere to explore outside Zaragoza, this place got rave reviews so we added it to our visit list. An easy drive of just about an hour south west of the city, I loved the scenery en route – it seemed like a lush oasis on the arid Aragon plain. We stopped in this little village briefly to take pictures – how could you resist?
A packed car park at the monastery, as deserted as the Cinco Villas was, this place was exactly the opposite. Full of Spanish families, we saw no other tourists, but the crowds had descended. A bit of a sinking heart really, we had got so used to having places to ourselves, not so here. We found a parking spot (eventually) and joined an enormous queue just to get tickets to go inside.
The monastery was founded in 1195 by Alfonso II of Aragon and named for the nearby Rio Piedra (Stone River) – all due to the calcified limestone deposits on its bank.
Once we eventually had our tickets we opted to explore the monastery – both this and the other buildings close for lunch between 1 and 3 – already caught out by this we had learned our lesson. It was indoor exploring first and then the grounds and gardens later in the afternoon.
A guided tour was just about to leave but we explained to the lady in charge that we didn’t speak Spanish. She gave us an information sheet in English and told us to make our own way around. This worked well, we made it ahead of the huge tour group and browsed at our leisure.
Fabulous cloisters, old chapel ruins and an incredibly interesting wine museum – a great way to spend the morning.
Next stop was the cafe for a lunch break before hitting those glorious gardens.