The Cistercian Monastery of Santa Maria de Santes-Creus was founded in 1158, when the Lords of Montagu and de Alba presented the village of Santes-Creus to the monks of Valdaury. The construction of the church began in 1174 and was completed in 1225. The monastery became one of the “peaks” of the Catalan “Cistercian Triangle” of three beautiful abbeys (the other two are the monastery_Vallbona de les-Montges and the Abbey of Poblet).
King Peter III of Aragon wished to be buried in this monastery, like his son Jacob II in the 13th century. with his wife, Blanche of Anjou. At the last, a separate part of the abbey was allocated to the royal chambers, and the original Romanesque club was rebuilt in the Gothic style. But, starting with Peter IV, royal favor went to Abbey Poblet, another “top” of the triangle. Nevertheless, the monastic complex continued to expand in the 17th and 18th centuries, until the activity of the Cistercians ceased in 1835.
In 1921, a beautiful and extensive complex of monastic buildings was declared a national monument.
The monastery became one of the “peaks” of the Catalan “Cistercian Triangle” of three beautiful abbeys.
In accordance with the basic principles of the Cistercian Order, the complex consisted of the church, cloatra, the residence of the abbot and the dormitory. All these and less significant buildings were created from a marvelous honey-colored stone, and the main buildings, including the church, received prongs from above, as in a fortress.
The church of the monastery was consecrated in 1211. It is a classical Latin cross in plan, with a nave and an aspidum. Each of the sleeves of the transept ends with a chapel, which is barely visible from the outside. Above the cross in the center rises a tall octagonal drum in the Gothic style with the baroque dome.
The main facade of the church is decorated with a Romanesque portal of the 12th century, and above it you can see a large Gothic stained glass window. Also remarkable is the window-outlet in the side-chapel. The interior of the church is strict and beautiful precisely due to this: as in most Cistercian churches, here from the very beginning there were no decorations. The only decorative objects inside are the tombs and the altar of the work of Joseph Tremeul of 1640 produced.
Examining the monastery buildings, it is not necessary to confine oneself only to the church and the cloister. For example, the Gothic entrance to the chapel is very beautiful.
Among the royal tombs, attention is drawn to the tomb of King Peter III, executed in 1291-1307. Bartolomeu de Gerona, which looks much richer decorated than the tombstone of his son (and the customer of the works), Jacob II, and his wife. It consists of an urn surrounded by images of saints placed over a red Roman font, brought here by Admiral Roger de Lauria. The mausoleum of James II and Blanche was created by Bertrand Riker in 1313-1315. Tombs made of marble are decorated with portraits of two monarchs with Cistercian paraphernalia.
The Romanesque club of the monastery is beautiful, which dates back to the late 12th – early 13th century. All that remained of the original cloatro was the octagonal central room where the laundry was located. The current Gothic club was designed by English master Reynard Fonoll, and therefore the gallery design is a mixture of English geometric and Catalan styles. Colutra columns are crowned with richly decorated capitals with figures of people and animals, as well as biblical scenes. In the walls are placed the tombs of several noble Catalans, and here are preserved the remains of painting – including a picture depicting the Annunciation. In the club you can get from the outer square of the monastery, through the Royal Gates, an impressive Romanesque portal.
Working hours: daily, except Mondays, from June 1 to September 30 from 10:00 to 19:00, from October 1 to May 31 – until 17:30.
Tarragona, 43815 Aiguamurcia-Santes Creus, s/n, Plaza Jaume el Just
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