The Convento de San Marcos was a convent in León, Spain is today an operating luxury parador hotel. It also contains a consecrated church and museum, and is one of the most important monuments of the Renaissance in Spain. It is one of the greatest architectural jewels of León, together with the Cathedral, the Basilica of San Isidoro and la Casa Botines. It has a highly ornamental plateresque facade. The darkest period in the monastery of San Marcos's five centuries of history is concentrated in just four years. During the course of the Spanish Civil War cells, rooms, stables, cloisters, church, choir, museum and every fast corner of the building were transformed into impromptu dungeons or jailers' offices. Between July 1936 and the end of 1940, up to 7,000 men and 300 women were imprisoned at the same time. It is estimated that, over the entire war and the period immediately following, the number of Republican militia members and political prisoners that passed through its cells totaled some 20,000. In the province of Leon, around 3,000 deaths are recorded due to the repression, and a good number of these came from the dungeons of San Marcos.
The origins of this building lie in the twelfth century, in the days of Alfonso VII of León. His sister, the Infanta Sancha of Castile, made a donation in July 1152 to construct a modest building on the outskirts of the walled city, on the banks of the Bernesga river, where "the poor of Christ" could stay. This would be a hospital-temple of shelter for pilgrims travelling the Camino de Santiago. Also, the building was the main residence for the Order of Santiago in the Kingdom of León. In 1176, Pedro Fernandez de Castro, the first maestre of the Order of Santiago was elected as the first prior, and in 1184 he was buried in his church.
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