Monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla

Monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla
San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
San Millán de Suso
Country Spain
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv, vi
Reference 805
Region ** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO

The monasteries of San Millán de Suso and San Millán de Yuso are two monasteries situated in the village of San Millán de la Cogolla, La Rioja, Spain. They have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The two monasteries' names Suso and Yuso mean the "upper" and the "lower" in archaic Castilian , respectively. Suso is the older building and is believed to be built on the site of a hermitage where Saint Emilian (Spanish: San Millán) lived. Perhaps Suso's major claim to fame is as the place where phrases in the Spanish and Basque languages were written for the first time.[1] The phrases in Spanish and Basque are glosses on a Latin text and are known as the Glosas Emilianenses. There is some debate as to whether the Spanish words are written in an early form of Castilian or in a related dialect. In either case, San Millán's importance as a cradle of the Spanish language is reinforced by the proximity of the village of Berceo which is associated with Gonzalo de Berceo, the first Spanish poet known by name.

There is a continuous history of Christianity at San Millán since the time of the saint. The scriptorium remained active during the period of Muslim rule; and over the centuries, the religious community has overcome various vicissitudes which affected the monasteries (for example being sacked by the Black Prince). However the type of monastic life evolved: the original monks living at Suso were hermits, but Yuso, the refoundation of the monastery on a lower site, developed as a Benedictine community. As the UNESCO evaluation noted, San Millán shows the transformation from an eremetic to a cenobitic community in material terms.[2]

Suso monastery has been uninhabited since the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal in the nineteenth century. Yuso monastery was also abandoned for some years in the nineteenth century, but was reoccupied. It houses an Augustinian community, but part of the monastery has been converted into a hotel. Today San Millán attracts pilgrims on the Way of St James (even though it lies somewhat off the line of the official route between Nájera and Burgos).[3][4]

Sacristy of Yuso Monastery.
Mozarabic arches in the Suso Monastery.


  1. ^ The codex in question was subsequently preserved in the monastery library at Yuso before being moved to its current location in Madrid. See Glosas Emilianenses.
  2. ^ Entry on the World Heritage website.
  3. ^ route map
  4. ^ (Spanish) Cervantes Centre


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