28 Mar 2018
MONASTERIES, CHURCHES and SANCTUARIES – The Romanesque art
Full tourist activity in Easter Week
The Romanesque bell towers that seem to connect sky and land, are a symbol of identity of the Vall de Boí (Pirineus). A blue sky, high peaks, crystal-clear water, and ever present greenery are the backdrop to breath-taking architecture.
Nine churches in the area were declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2000. The value is due to the stylistic unity of their functional and beautiful Lombard Romanesque buildings. With their characteristic half point arches and cannon domes inherited from Roman architecture, Romanesque architecture was the first clearly Christian style. It will be discovered by whoever visits the Romanesque Centre, which in the valley itself, offers all information that visitors might need to discover this stone paradise. Essential too is a visit to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC, Barcelona), where in the early 20th century the original paintings were transferred from the churches of Boí, as well as sculptures in stone and wood, to protect them from being sacked and sold.
The Romanesque constructions are spread around the whole country. The colossal monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes (Costa Brava) stands on the Rodes hill range with unbeatable views of the bay of Llançà. And the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll (Pirineus), with its overwhelming series of portals and which is a true stone Bible, is a masterpiece of 13th-century Romanesque sculpture. To the south, the Santa Tecla Cathedral in Tarragona (Costa Daurada), built between 1170 and 1331, rises at the highest point of the city, as the temple of Augustus once did.
Sober and austere, the monasteries of the Cistercian order also bear witness to the passing from the Romanesque period to the Gothic period.
They stand between vineyards, almond, and olive groves on lands which were in Muslim hands until the 12th century. Among the best preserved is the monastery of Santes Creus.
The Route of the Temple
The Order of the Knights Templar, founded in the 11th century to protect the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, left castles and churches in Catalonia and Aragon that can be visited today on the Domus Templi Route, promoted by the councils of Monzón, Lleida, Miravet, Tortosa, and Peñíscola. One of the best specimens of the architecture of the Temple is the Gardeny complex (Terres de Lleida) from the mid-12th century which is located on a strategic hill. The route also includes stops in emblematic places such as la Suda, in Tortosa, which stands imposing over the profile of the Templar capital of the Ebro.
Directions where to get more information:
Catalonia Sacra: discover ITS religious heritage.
Visitors who have been to the Cathedral of Sant Pere in Vic (Paisatges Barcelona), go on a unique journey. They are not satisfied with simply seeing the neoclassical building (1803). They will also go out onto the roof and see some extraordinary places located on top of the church. They have the privilege of walking across the cathedral’s roof tiles and past the domes that cover it to see what nobody sees.
Once inside the building, they can contemplate the paintings of Josep Maria Sert, one of the most outstanding muralists of the 20th century. This is just one of the many experiences travellers are given by Catalonia Sacra, a tourist project in which the ten Catalan archbishops and a good number of experts in religious heritage participate, and which seeks to promote the artistic and architectural treasures of the churches.