The Rio Aragon turns westwards as it leaves Jaca, the pilgrimage road following along its left bank. Just off the road up a shallow valley lies the monastic buildings of Santa Cruz de la Serós, nestling under the peaks of the Sierra de San Juan de la Peña which tower immediately above.
It was a long established double hermitage
with one building, San Capraiso for monks and the other, Santa Maria for nuns.
Originally, Santa Maria was part of the monastery of San Juan de la Peña, however it became the royal convent when Doña Sancha of Aragon arrived in 1070 and a major monastic and political centre in its own right.
It was initially settled by a group of hermits seeking refuge from Moorish persecution and started to receive royal attention when Sancho 11 Garces (970-994) and his wife Urraca Fernandez provided the convent of Santa Maria with a substantial endowment.
In 1049 Ramiro Ist made further endowments and in 1061 entered his youngest daughters Urraca and Teresa as nuns, leaving further donations in his will.
Ramiro’s eldest daughter had married count Armengol 111 of Urgel, however after his death in Moorish lands in 1065, she entered the convent to join her two sister in 1070.
From then on the convent started to play a role in the affairs of the nascent kingdom of Aragon with Doña Sancha supporting her brother the king Sancho-Ramirez, who made further donations in 1093. A visit to Santa Maria by the mother of Ramiro 1st, Sancha de Aibar was the occasion for a ceremonial gift offering which took place in fron of the porch of the convent church.
Doña Sancha died in 1097 and a magnificent carved sarcophagus was commissioned by her nephew the new king Pedro 1st.
The tympanum over the western entrance features a crude copy of the Chrismon surrounded by two lions from Jaca. This symbol, seen at number of Aragonese monasteries implies a royal connection as was the case at Santa Cruz de la Seros and a statement of the Reconquista as a Holy War.