Catalonia is a land steeped in history and the monasteries are a clear witness to this. That is why we have prepared a list of the 10 most important and well-known monasteries in Catalonia.

We encourage you to visit them and get to know the history and legends that surround them. A different way to discover the territory surrounded by stones and landscapes that will surprise you.

1. Sant Pere de Rodes (Port de la Selva)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

This is one of the star buildings of Romanesque architecture in Catalonia. The monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes is located some 520 metres above sea level, which affords spectacular views of the bay of Port de la Selva (Alt Empordà) and the Cap de Creus Natural Park. Some of its key elements are the church, the defence tower, the bell tower and the two cloisters. You can make free or guided visits (with previous reservation) and also eat in the monastery's restaurant.

2. Montserrat (Monistrol de Montserrat)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

This is probably the most visited monastery in Catalonia. Located among the mountains of the same name in the region of Bages, known worldwide for their characteristic rounded shapes, the monastery of Montserrat was founded by Abbot Oliba in 1025. It currently has a community of some 80 Benedictine monks, who dedicate their lives to prayer, seclusion and work. You can visit the interior of the basilica, the image of the Virgin Mary "la Moreneta" and the Museum of Montserrat. In the mornings, the children's choir of the Escolania de Montserrat sings in the basilica. We recommend you to take the rack railway from Monistrol de Montserrat to the monastery, a 15-minute journey that will allow you to enjoy the spectacular views.

3. Monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres (Masies de Roda)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

The monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres, in the region of Osona, is located on a peninsula surrounded by the waters of the river Ter. From the monastery you can enjoy the landscape of the Sau reservoir and the Guilleries mountains. Guided tours are organised every first Sunday from March to October (by prior reservation) to discover the history and legends of this monastery.

4. Monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll (Ripoll)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

The monastery was founded by Count Guifré el Pelós in 879 with the goal of repopulating the territory (Ripollès). The period of splendour of the monastery was during the mandate of Abbot Oliba, also founder of the monastery of Montserrat, who managed to make the monastery of Ripoll one of the most important religious and cultural centres of the medieval times, with a literary production that had nothing to envy to that of other European abbeys of this period. To learn about its history, you can visit the cloister, the museum and the interpretation centre. Don't miss the arcade, considered the most important Romanesque sculptural work in Catalonia, with different scenes from the Old Testament worked by anonymous sculptors.

5. Royal Monastery of Santes Creus (Aiguamúrcia)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

One of the great monasteries of Catalonia for its history, its monumental value and its current good state of conservation. Within the Santes Creus complex you can visit its cloisters, the Abbot's palace, the cellar and the church, where you will find the tombs of the kings Pere el Gran and Jaume II. This monastery located in the region of Alt Camp is part of the Cistercian Route, together with the monasteries of Santa Maria de Poblet and Vallbona de les Monges. You can buy a special ticket to visit the 3 monasteries of the Cistercian Route.

6. Monastery of Sant Quirze de Colera (Rabós)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

This monastery, located in the middle of the Albera mountains (Alt Empordà), was founded in the 8th century and is preserved as it was in the past. After recent restoration work, you can visit its church and the remains of the cloister of the abbot's palace. From the monastery you can enjoy spectacular views of the Albera mountains and the Gulf de Roses.

7. Monastery of Santa Maria de Poblet (Vimbodí)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

This monastery was founded by Ramon Berenguer, Count of Barcelona between 1131 and 1162. In 1991 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Today, monks still live in the monastery of Poblet (Conca de Barberà). You can buy tickets to visit the monumental part of the monastery: the cloister, the chapterhouse and the church with the pantheons of the kings Pere el Cerimoniós and Martí l'Humà, as well as the museum and the interpretation centre. You can buy a special ticket that will allow you to visit the 3 monasteries of the Cistercian Route: the monastery of Poblet, Santes Creus and the monastery of Vallbona.

8. Monastery of Vallbona de les Monges (Vallbona de les Monges)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

The monastery of Santa Maria de Vallbona, located in Urgell region, was built in the 14th century. Together with the monasteries of Poblet and Santes Creus, it is part of the Cistercian Route. It is a small monastery with a singular charm. You can visit the cloister, the chapterhouse, the church and the chapel, as well as the tombs of the different abbesses, including Violant of Hungary, wife of Jaume I. In the monastery shop you can buy products made by the nuns (such as sweets, honey, ceramics, books, liqueurs and religious imagery). You can buy a special ticket that will allow you to visit the 3 monasteries of the Cistercian Route.

9. Monastery of Santa Maria de Lillet (La Pobla de Lillet)

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

The first references to this monastery date from 833, the year in which the church of Castell de Lillet, in the Berguedà region, was consecrated. After a few years of prosperity and wealth, the monastery entered a phase of decline due to the construction of a new castle and a new church in La Pobla, until it was finally abandoned. Nowadays, you can visit the ruins of the monastery by requesting the keys from the tourist office in La Pobla de Lillet.

10. Monastery of Sant Pere de Besalú (Besalú) 

The 10 must-see monasteries of Catalonia

The monastery of Sant Pere de Besalú was founded in 977. The period of maximum splendour and wealth of the monastery was around 1111 with the union of the counties of Besalú and Barcelona. Nowadays, only the church remains of the monastery, located in the middle of the county town of Besalú (La Garrotxa), as the cloister and the rest of the buildings were demolished or damaged due to wars and fires.

If you have been left wanting more, we recommend our post where we talk about the most representative castles and fortresses of Girona and the Costa Brava.
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