The origins of this monastery, set in the Upper Lozoya Valley in the Sierra de Guadarrama, date back to 1390, when Juan I, King of Castile, laid the first stone of the future El Paular charterhouse. Various architects were involved in the project, including Juan Guas, Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, Francisco Hurtado and Vicente Acero, until it was completed in 1442, under the reign of Juan II.
For four and a half centuries, El Paular was one of the best equipped Carthusian monasteries, but in 1835 the Disentailment Law stripped it of its economic and cultural splendour leading to the dispersion of part of the archives, library and picture gallery, passing into the hands of others until it was finally purchased by the state. The small Benedictine community has resided in El Paular since 1954.
The masterpiece of El Paular is the main altarpiece in the church, made out of polychromatic alabaste and consisting of 16 scenes. The set stands out for its structural simplicity and its abundant decoration and occupies the whole of the back of the presbytery. Other interesting elements of the monastery are the original 15th century cloister, the refectory, the library and the courtyards, such as the Cadena, a gardened area that serves as access to the monastery and can be considered to be one of the most beautiful monastic atriums in Europe.