© Wikipedia / José Luis Filpo Cabana
© Wikipedia / José Luis Filpo Cabana
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The Royal Colegiata of San Isidoro: the Holy Grail and the puzzle of the kings

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In León, in the northwest of Spain, there is a very beautiful complex: the Royal Colegiata of San Isidoro, a masterpiece of Romanesque art. The place is full of history and stories: some are true, some… well, we will never know. This is a story about the end of a dynasty, and also of the most hunted object in the world: the Holy Grail

© Flickr / Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias
© Flickr / Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias
Museo San Isidoro de León
Museo San Isidoro de León
Plaza San Isidoro, 4, 24003 León, Spain

The Royal Colegiata of San Isidoro is a gorgeous building, and very special for the locals. León used to be the capital of the kingdom of the same name, and this basilica became a crucial place. For instance, it held the first European Parliament. Furthermore, the Leonese kings decided to install their Royal Pantheon at the basilica. As their last dwell, they turned the building into a Romanesque beauty. It is well worth visiting the cloister, the church, the gates, and of course, the Pantheon, known as the “Romanesque Sixtina Chapel.” It is just a wonder! Plus, it has a very rich museum. 

©Wikipedia / Megginede
©Wikipedia / Megginede

The Royal Colegiata went through a bad period at the venue of the French -2,000 soldiers caused major injuries to the building. They also emptied the sarcophagus that contained the royal skeletons and used them as places for the horses to drink. They were kind enough to put all the bones together at one corner, though. Somebody saved them, and for years the modern scientists have been trying to put together a puzzle of thousand pieces to be able to determine who is who. Their task was made much easier by the history of the end of a dynasty. 

© Wikimedia / Jaccroube
© Wikimedia / Jaccroube

The bold king

Once upon a time, there was a fearless king in the North of Spain. Being a northerner, he could endure the cold like no one else. But alas, once he found himself fighting a battle on a scorching day of summer. He was so hot that in the middle of the battle, he decided to take off his armor. Within seconds, his body was pierced by swords and arrows. Nonetheless, the story is not over! He still had a son, a young prince, hungry for battles and adrenaline. After the death of his father, he was, of course, named king and decided to keep fighting his father’s cause. He was brave and bold. Too bold! He got the fastest horse of the whole army- so fast that, when they started galloping towards the enemy, he soon left the rest of his own army behind. So fast that, when he reached the enemies, he was all alone against a whole army! 

© Flickr / Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias
© Flickr / Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias

You can imagine how he ended up. But thanks to the 40 spears he took, it was determined without a doubt that the two very badly mutilated bones belonged to father and son. The rest of the skeletons are not so easy to identify. Hence, oddly enough, a very tragic ancient story contributed to the happy ending of a contemporary one. Therefore, when you visit this basilica, do not forget to pass by and pay homage to these bold, brave father and son! 

Santa María la Real of Nájera
Santa María la Real of Nájera
Calle Rey Don García, 12, 26300 Nájera, La Rioja, Spain

However, there is yet another controversy: the Royal Pantheon of Nájera, 250kms away, is the proud dwell of all the kings from Navarra, and also of an outsider: our fast prince, Bermudo the III. Yes, there is a tomb in there with his name, and that man died of several fatal injuries as well. Which skeleton belongs to the poor king? Who knows!

© Wikipedia / Locutus Borg
© Wikipedia / Locutus Borg

A Spanish Holy Grail?

If you visit the room of Lady Urraca’s calyx, you will see a cup made of onyx and covered by medieval jewels. A scholar has recently revealed some texts that prove that this calyx came from Egypt 1,000 years ago, as a good faith gift from the Muslims to the Leonese King. On the way, one of the carriers, having heard of the magic of the calyx, broke a little piece of the edge and kept it. Saladin knew about it and asked for the splinter, which he used to heal his sick daughter. And oh wonder, when the calyx was analyzed in 2010, it had a little hole on the edge, exactly like the text had said. However, other scholars claim that the translation of the text has been manipulated in order to adjust to the story of the Holy Grail. It is nevertheless true that the onyx cup is from the Roman Era. So, as everything linked to the Holy Grail, nothing is sure. You can choose to believe whatever you want. While we wait for more news on this, you can always go by and admire the pagan calyx recovered in an elegant, medieval jewelry masterpiece


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The author

Sara Rodriguez Romo

Sara Rodriguez Romo

I live between Salamanca, in Spain, and Marvão, in Portugal. A passionate traveller, I have visited over 30 countries in four continents. Currently I am doing a PhD in Greek Mythology and working with horses, doing rides in the nature.

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