The actual convent building is in itself of great interest but below its floors it holds another, even more fascinating structure; an ancient subterranean convent that was chiselled out of the rock and that very few people have been able to contemplate as a result of its closure in the XVIII century.
Its history goes back to the year 1556, when Mosén Melchor Ferre decided to build a monastery for future nuns. The idea was to enclose off a piece of land and excavate a cave monastery in the grounds. On 10th March 1556 six nuns arrived in Bocairent from Valencia’s Convent of Hope (Convento de la Esperanza), although they were not to occupy the convent until 10th October that same year. The Convent Monastery came under the auspices of the “Our Lady of Sorrows and the Kings of the Epiphany” (“Sacratissima Vege Maria del Dolors i dels Benaventurats Reis Mags”). In the year 1700 the cave convent was sealed off and a second convent built above, later giving way to the actual monastery in 1902.
The striking first impression of the 48 square metre cave convent is due to the excellent preservation of the expertly finished sculpting of the building, with its high ceilings and finely carved mouldings. Various rooms are interconnected and there is a chimney flue-cum-ventilation shaft that sticks out at the top (measuring 10m with an opening at the top of the shaft).
Inside the convent you can see the untouched church, used by the nuns until 1700 and later as a place of prayer until 1900.
In keeping with the austerity of those times, for the first 20 years after the convent’s foundation the nuns lived in cells like the ones in the convent, characterised by their dampness and lack of light. After these first two decades, the nuns left their cave cells for the dwellings of Mossen Melchor Ferre, who had bequeathed them to the nuns in his inheritance. These two houses are right above the primitive cave convent and are connected underground.