It is an ancient Cistercian abbey in Herrerian style, located in Rioseco, in the Manzanedo Valley, in the present-day province of Burgos, near the river Ebro. In 1148, the Cistercian Abbey Valbuena founded a second house, affiliated with the main house, next to a small, old church in Quintanajuar.
In 1171 this new community received as a gift, from the heirs of the nobleman Martino Martini de Uizozes, the former monastery of Rioseco. After a temporary change of location in the late 12th century to San Cipriano de Montes de Oca (in the province of La Rioja), the Cistercians moved to the Manzanedo valley in the early 13th century (probably in 1204) to occupy the former monastery of Rioseco.
WHY THIS PLACE
The site of the former monastery can still be seen from the ruins of the convent church. It appears that after a flood, no later than 1236, the new community settled permanently in a new location a little further north, in a higher position. After the move, the former convent church was used as the parish church of Nuestra Señora de Parrales.
In the 1850s the still existing buildings, and especially the church, still very well preserved and magnificently decorated, were deliberately and systematically depredated by the Archiaga family and reduced to ruins. Despite its deteriorated state, an impressive spiral staircase is still preserved, the church's stone walls are still standing, and the vaults retain some traces of polychrome. The Pancarta or Codex Diplomaticus of the Monastery – medieval manuscript that contained documents related to the foundation and legal rights of ecclesiastical establishments – is currently found in the National Historical Archives of Spain.
Today the ruin of the castle is the backdrop for the Burgarena, an 1150-seat amphitheater used mainly for concerts and festivals. Names like Monserat Caballé, José Carreras and Placido Domingo have already performed there.