In the middle of the 12th Century the Count of Barcelona conquered the last Muslim stronghold, who had occupied the southern part of the current Catalonia; after that, known as the New Catalonia, a rich area but uninhabited.
The need to repopulate this land coincided with the expansion of the Cistercian Order, a new monastic order, who wanted to return to the Rule of Saint Benedict. The new order discovered in this deserted land the necessary elements to found their own little worlds out of the world: land to cultivate, abundant stone and water. All this occurred under the protection of the Crown, converting the new monasteries in their royal pantheons. Thus, they created a spirituality source in a reduced space, that has been maintained over the centuries and we currently can appreciate it.
Poblet is the biggest Monastery of the Cistercian Route. The only male community of monks of the route lives behind its walls and, at the same time, it is the largest Cistercian complex inhabited in Europe.
Founded in 1150, it had its glory in the 14th Century when it became the royal pantheon of Counts of Barcelona. Although, its important influence maintained alive in the county over the centuries.
The Monastery of Poblet is one of the spirituality centres in Catalonia and, at the same time, it holds one of the most important jewels of the religious architecture in the country, as it confirms the fact that it was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1991.
According to the order, Santes Creus is the monastery that reproduces with more accuracy the architectonic ideas of the three Cistercian monasteries.
Founded in 1158, it had different glorious stages becoming the royal pantheon for a short time; but in 1835 the secularization of the monks was carried out. So, it is the only enclosure without monastic life. This allows the visitors to access all the spots of the monastery to know this monument and its life. It is recommended to watch its audiovisual presentation to better understand the Cistercian Order.
Vallbona is the only female monastery of the route and also the only preserving the monastic life continuously for 800 years. As it is the smallest one, it has a singular beauty; the two Gothic domes at the top of the monastery are a good example.
The origin of the monastery goes back to 1153; along the Middle Ages it became a seclusion place for the daughters of the most important nobility in the principality, as demonstrates the tomb of the most known queen of the Catalan Crown, Violant d’Hongria.
Nowadays, we can appreciate its beauty thanks to the guest quarter, which helps the visitor to find the quietness the founders found.
Although they are not in the Cistercian Route, for its importance and location, it is always a good choice to expand the visit to the area.
The village of Montblanc is one of the most picturesque of Catalonia, thanks to the walled enclosure of 1500 meters, to be raised over a hill and to the treasures hidden inside. Behind its walls, we can enjoy a walk through its streets and squares along the middle Ages.
According to the tradition, it is here where the Patron Saint of Catalonia, Saint George, killed the dragon that tormented the people and saved the princess of being devoured. Saint George gifted her rose, sprung forth the dragon’s blood. Their inhabitants remember this fact every 23rd of April with a big show, we recommend watching it.
Valls is known as the cradle of two traditions: a gastronomic one and a folkloric one, extended along Catalonia and icons in the country.
In the culinary one, we have “Calçotades”: a soft, white and long onion served with Romesco sauce which is eaten by following a ritual, a popular tradition. The best period to eat “calçots” is from January to March.
The folkloric tradition is the “castles”—the human towers—a tradition with more than 200 years, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010. Valls has two of the most important “colles” (group of people that build the human towers) in the country.
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