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San Millán de la Cogolla: birthplace of the Spanish language

  • Interior of the library at the Yuso Monastery. San Millán de la Cogolla, La Rioja © Turespaña

    Interior of the library at the Yuso Monastery. San Millán de la Cogolla, La Rioja © Turespaña

  
  


" In the north of Spain, in La Rioja region, you will find the birthplace of the Spanish language. ..."

In the north of Spain, in La Rioja region, you will find the birthplace of the Spanish language. In a beautiful valley, sheltered by woods and mountains, a mere 42 kilometres from Logroño, lies San Millán de la Cogolla. The monasteries of Yuso and Suso stand serene and majestic, almost as though aware of their great importance. Between these walls the first words in the romance language we now know as Spanish were written, the so-called Glosas Emilianenses. Furthermore, the first known poet of Spanish literature, Gonzalo de Berceo wrote his verses here. Submerge yourself in this unique place: no other language having the relevance and extension of Spanish can be associated with such a specific place.

In the Middle Ages the monasteries became centres for culture. Moralising religious and profane books were copied and illustrated on their desks. It was in the 11th century, in the monastery of Suso, when the copiers began to find that the texts in Latin were difficult to understand and they began to write clarifying sentences in the margins in the popular language used by the common people, the romance language. The first of these annotations are known as the Glosas Emilianenses. Besides its historic value, there are other reasons for visiting the monastery, not least being its architecture. It was built in the 6th century by the mountainside where the hermits lived in caves. It is built in three different styles, Visigoth, Mozarabic and Romanesque and its anarchic and labyrinthine structure is fascinating.

A little way away, slightly lower down in the valley, you will find the treasures of the Yuso monastery, which was founded in 11th century. The library, conserved as it was at the end of 18th century, houses priceless volumes and books. You will likewise be astonished by the gold, ivory and precious stones used to make the urn which houses the relics of San Millán.

Set in a unique landscape, come and see this cultural centre and focal point for human understanding. Let yourself be taken in by the grandeur of the town of San Millán de la Cogolla and its symbolic and historic legacy.

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