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In the regions of Alt Camp and Conca de Barberà, and in the region of Urgell, in Lleida, there are three important Cistercian monasteries: Poblet, Santes Creus and Vallbona de les Monges. The Cistercian Route brings together these three great monasteries, offering a very important cultural tourist offer in Catalonia.
The monastery of Santa Maria de Poblet is very close to the cities of Vimbodí and L’Espluga de Francolí, sheltered on the northern slope of the Prades mountains, in a beautiful place where abundant springs flow and where the great forest of the Poblet is located, with a varied and leafy vegetation. The name comes from the Latin alameda (populetum); Poblet is an impressive architectural ensemble that counts among the most important monastic monuments in Europe. In addition to the magnificent church, an outstanding example of Cistercian art, almost all the buildings have been built according to the needs of a community in full vitality and expansion and under the protection of the kings of the Catalan-Aragonese confederation are preserved: especially since Peter III the Ceremonious (1336-1387) made the monastery the royal pantheon of the dynasty.
Poblet is the largest monastery in La Ruta del Cister and the only one of the two male monasteries that still has a community of monks. In 1991, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Monastery of Vallbona de les Monges is a unique space where the passage of hours is shared with the female religious community. With eight hundred years of uninterrupted monastic presence, it is the most unknown and surprising treasure of the Cistercian road.
It is the only female monastery of the Way and the only one that has preserved the community without interruption for more than 850 years, except in times of war. The Vallbona Monastery is a precious monastery of small size and singular beauty, it is the clearest representation of the importance of women in medieval times. In its history there are many abbesses, daughters of the Catalan nobility. From the monastery, we highlight the two Gothic domes, the largest of which rests all its weight on the nave of the church. It was declared a historical and artistic monument in 1931.
On the banks of the Gaià River is the Monastery of Santes Creus, which was the centre of one of the most important and influential monastic seigneuries in the Crown of Aragon. With its solid and austere architecture, the abbey reflects the canonical model of Cistercian monasteries.
Founded in 1160, the highest point of Santes Creus is between the 13th and 14th centuries, due to its close relationship with the nobility and the royal lineage. Kings Peter III of Aragon and James II and his wife Blanca of Anjou, patron saints of the monastery, chose to be buried here, in two Gothic mausoleums near the main altar.
The monastery plan organizes the spaces according to the needs of the community. The church, opened for worship in 1225, is an example of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic art. Although it offers a feeling of lightness and grandeur, it is a solid and austere temple. The splendour of the 14th century cloister, the first in the Gothic style of the Crown of Aragon, is remarkable.
More information in :
Cistern Road Management Office. San José, 18 – 43400 Montblanc
Web : www.larutadelcister.info
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