Discovering the religious heritage.
18 Mar 2021

Discovering the religious heritage.

Monasteries, churches, sanctuaries – The Romanesque art.

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 (Pirinees), 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.

Monasteries of the Cistercian Route - Poblet

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.

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. However, not all of the churches are large constructions. Sometimes it is the abandoned hermitages or the isolated monasteries which give visitors the most stimulating experiences.


Approaching the Spanish Romanesque heritage is a cultural experience, as it allows to know the keys of this style in architecture, painting and sculpture. In many cases it is also a natural experience, since some of the routes of Spanish Romanesque art run through spectacular landscapes and allow you to make the journey on foot, on horseback, by bicycle or quietly with your family by private car, or in a group making the journey in a comfortable coach.

As for pilgrimage routes, many travelers have crossed the Catalan territory following the tourist routes established for the journey. Some follow the Camino de Santiago, a set of different routes, with several accessible stretches, that head to Galicia passing through points such as the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes or the cathedral of Barcelona. Another route that shares much of the route, but in reverse, is the Ignatian Route. In Manresa, who later became the founder of the Society of Jesus, spent a year in the Cave, the place where the saint lived his most remarkable spiritual experiences. There are also other remarkable routes in inland Catalonia, such as the Camí Oliba, crossing the territory from the sea to the Pyrenees.

In the Pyrenees, in Huesca, the city of Jaca treasures one of the oldest Romanesque temples in Spain, the Cathedral of San Pedro de Jaca. In the same province is the Castle of Loarre, the best preserved Romanesque fortress in Europe. Inside is the Church of Santa María. In Castilla y León is the town of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos), with its Benedictine monastery, an impressive construction whose cloister is considered one of the masterpieces of Spanish Romanesque architecture.

In the area of Asturias, the Romanesque Route in the surroundings of Oviedo stands out, allowing visitors to admire pre-Romanesque works such as Santa María del Naranco and other rural temples. In the final destination of the Route of St. James, the whole area of Galicia is full of monuments and buildings of great value, which stand out for their artistic quality. Among them, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (1075-1105), which houses the Portico de la Gloria, considered the masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture.


World Heritage Monasteries

There are several monasteries in Spain that stand out for their artistic wealth. Some examples are the Monastery of Guadalupe, in Extremadura; the Monastery of Poblet, in Catalonia; the Monastery and Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, in Madrid; and the Monasteries of Yuso and Suso, in La Rioja, declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. In addition, we suggest you follow the Marian Route in Spain with a visit to three of the most popular Marian sanctuaries such as the Basilica of Pilar, in Zaragoza; the Monastery of Torreciudad, in Huesca or the Monastery of Montserrat, in Barcelona province.


A trip around Catalonia is full of surprises.This is a small region that you can travel easily.

Traveling with the family is an increasingly widespread option when planning vacations. This implies the search for proposals and offers that can satisfy the needs and concerns of young and old alike. Tourism has become an everyday element of our lives and we hope to recover normality to reactivate the need to travel and learn about other cultures.

You will find all you need to travel with your family in Catalonia: magnificent natural environments, good weather, cities and specialised companies where your child can have a good time.
We highlight some areas to visit in the inside of Catalonia.

La Plana de Vic, and the river Ter surrounded by mountains. Places with interesting names waiting to be discovered, such as; the Vall del Ges area, the Collsacabra region, Les Guilleries, the Montseny or the Lluçanès region. The Montseny Natural Park, Montesquiu Castle Park and Les Guilleries-Savassona Natural Space are just some examples of the many protected areas containing natural beauty. Here, and in other places, you will be able to enjoy many activities that allow you to discover nature and its beauties year round.

Panoramic view of Loarre Castle