A Cistercian cloister

In order to stretch one’s legs, nothing beats a Cistercian cloister from the 14th century.

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “cloister” as “a covered path or hall with arches that is on the side of a building (such as a monastery or church) and that has one open side usually facing a courtyard”.

That’s right. A cloister is a covered path…

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with lots of beautiful arches…

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all of them filled with amazing tracery…

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Wow!

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That’s stone work.

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In these ossuaries (pic below) rest some important nobles and knights from the Middle Ages. They rode their battle horses two or three hundred years before Don Quixote rode Rocinante…

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Don’t forget that, according to the Merriam-Webster’s definition, cloisters have “… one open side usually facing a courtyard”

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That’s right too: my today’s cloister faces a courtyard…

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A wonderful courtyard full of roses, lemons and oranges…

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In this nice cloister there is also a “lavabo”…

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A lavabo is the place where monks washed their hands before having lunch at the refectory (or dinning room). This one is even older than the covered path itself. It was built in the 12th century. It consists of an hexagonal structure covered by a six-ribbed vault, with a circular fountain under such ceiling.

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Let’s go on with our stroll trough the cloister…

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Facing the cloister you´ll find the chapter house (12th century too); Cistercian architecture at its best…

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Cistercian is simplicity…

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And light…

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I hope that you, my dear reader, won´t fly away from this blog if I dare to say that hic est tuus paradisus ut vere ducit te ad paradisum.

Sorry. I couldn’t help saying it. It is a very nice cloister.

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Now follow me in the utmost silence, and don’t panic, please. I am about to disclose to you an important secret…

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Apart from arches, roses, oranges, lemons, ossaries, a chapter house and a lavabo, there are much more things in this very special cloister…

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Things that nobody would expect to find in an austere Cistercian cloister…

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Or should I say “beings” in stead of “things”?

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Yes; “beings” is the correct word. The correct word to name my friends. Keep your mouth closed. They don’t know you yet, and they can get very angry and dangerous if they think that you are an obnoxious tourist. I take for granted that you, my dear reader, are not an obnoxious tourist wherever you travel, because tourists (of the obnoxious kind) don´t read my blog. They read standard tourist guides and visit crowded places. And you read my blog, ergo you are an intelligent and sensitive traveler, perhaps a dreamer, interested in solitary and unique places. Let me explain this important, undeniable and metaphysical fact to my friends…

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Explained. Good news. You’re welcome.

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You’re welcome as long as you don’t dare to make one of those silly and egocentric things called “selfie”. I am not kidding. Look the monster in the pic below. He ate of one bite a guy who attempted to take a selfie with him in the background…

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Now let me introduce to you some other dwellers of this charming cloister.
This is the porter (do you see the keys?)…

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This is one of those ubiquitous (in Romanesque/Gothic Art) guys known as “Green Men” (do you see the branches that sprout from his mouth?)

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This is Mr. Reinard des Fonoll, sculptor. He worked in this cloister in 1330 or so. I don’t remember the exact dates because time flies and my memory is weak.

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Lovely, very kind people all of them…

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… as long as you don’t take selfies…

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This cloister belongs to a Cistercian monastery located not very far away (barely a 1 1/2 h drive) from a marvelous city called Barcelona. As a matter of fact, Barcelona is such a marvelous city that it has become the fifth most popular tourist destination in Europe, just behind London, Paris, Berlin and Rome. The main consequence of such an impressive ranking is that you cannot take a tranquil and peaceful walk in Barcelona any longer.

Oh my! I’m thinking that if I blog about this charming cloister, the crowds of Barcelona will invade it very soon…

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Don’t worry, my friends! I’m just kidding! The crowds will never invade this cloister! Remember that they don’t read my blog!

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Ok. Let’s go on. Follow me. This is the monastery’s bedroom. Old monks slept here, on an immense, dense and soft bedding of straw.

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The monastery had some quarters reserved for royal visits …

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These are the only remains of the monastic kitchen…

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East end of the monastery’s church. The rose window (circa 1190) contains the oldest Cistercian glass that has survived in Europe (i.e. the world):

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The monastery has a second cloister (13th century). It is much more simple than the other one…

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There is a melancholic fountain in its center…

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If you walk a little further, you’ll find the remains of some ancient walls and arches. They belong to the primitive monastery.

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The Chapel of the Holy Trinity is very old. In fact, it was the first church built in the monastery by the original monks. It is simple and unpretentious, but take my word for granted: a difficult to explain feeling of awe will invade you once you enter that sacred space…

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You’ll experience a slightly different awe if you enter here:

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It’s the monastery’s “modern” church…

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By “modern” I mean 12th-14th centuries…

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You’ll experience awe because it is an awesome place…

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The construction of this church began in 1174…

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It was consecrated in 1211…

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It was photographed by Covetotop in 2017…

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Latin cross plan. Three aisles. A symphony in stone.

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This is the double tomb of King Jaume the Just and Queen Blanca d’Anjou (14th century)

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This is the tomb of King Pere the Great (13th century)

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This monastery is surrounded by an agreeable countryside.

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It is difficult to imagine that here, somehow in the middle of nowhere, just crossing a humble door, you´ll find all the beauty and mystery that I have tried to share with you above, my dear reader…

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Well, frankly speaking, the monastery’s doors and facades aren’t that humble…

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As a mater of fact, this is a quite impressive monastery…

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Just in front of the monastery there are a few houses (13th-18th centuries). It was the semi-claustral part of the monastery (old hospital, retired monks rooms, treasury, etc.)

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Practicing mindfulness is absurd when you visit a Cistercian monastery like this one. You aren’t able to control your breath, your feelings, your heart…

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I promised my friends from the cloister that I wouldn’t typewrite in my blog the name and location of this sacred and solitary place. And I’m keeping my word.

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Yes; nothing beats a Cistercian cloister in order to stretch one’s legs.

And one’s soul.

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Good bye!

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About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
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27 Responses to A Cistercian cloister

  1. Stacy Brunson says:

    Lovely! Thank you for scratching my Catalunya itch. I do miss that country so, and enjoy your erudite and humorous posts.

    Best Regards, Stacy From Austin, Texas

    >

  2. Peace and beauty….thank you for a wonderful visit.

  3. Wish says:

    I just read this over breakfast. A good way to start the day. I got the feeling about half-way through that you weren’t going to tell us where it was, and I was right…

    • Covetotop says:

      Hi, Wish! As a matter of fact, I didn’t tell expressly where the monastery is… 😉 I think that solitude is crucial when visiting these historical buildings. I have heard that 30.000 people visit Notre Dame in Paris each day. Can you imagine such crowd here in Sssss…..?

      • Wish says:

        I went to Barcelona and stayed in one of the places you recommended, and walked down the Rambla. It was only after returning home that I learnt that, these days, everyone on the Rambla is a tourist (thanks to airbnb).

      • Covetotop says:

        Airdbmd and all those dmnd things are transforming old cities in modern crwdd shts … Low season is the only hope left for sensitive human beings 😉

  4. Wish says:

    Ok. Got it. If only I didn’t live at the other end of the world!

    • Covetotop says:

      Ok. Don’t tell anybody… My friends (the corbels and capitals) will be very grateful 🙂 Best regards from this other end of the world!

  5. Sue says:

    I love a good cloister, and this one is certainly a stunning example

  6. Aquila says:

    It’s so very beautiful. Thank you for sharing this peaceful place. The monsters seem to be doing an excellent job of protecting it.

  7. Beautiful! I spied a siren and monkeys; and such elegant arches! We enjoy hunting for Romanesque sculptures in churches in France; I am looking forward to exploring Spain.

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you for commenting! As you know, the wonderful and very mysterious Romanesque Art had no borders in Europe. In France, Spain, Italy … it’s easy to stumble across a little Romanesque church or lost hermitage in almost any village or its surroundings. Always a grateful surprise.

  8. Christina says:

    Wonderful post! Thank you for the pleasant stroll through the cloisters and introducing your readers to your friends there. That is a very beautiful place and refreshingly peaceful.

    As I am a daydreaming tourist, I am hopeful that I might be able to find this enchanted place. 😉

    • Covetotop says:

      Daydreaming tourists like you are more than capable of finding, understanding and enjoying enchanted places 😉

      Thank you very much for your nice comment(s), Christina!

  9. Covetotop, you have left hints for us to find your charming cloister, but like your own name, it will stay a secret!

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you Dennis! We must be very cautious. Take into account that the most important newspapers in the world might be following our respective last steps, very closely…

      We talked a lot about Besalú at Can Roca. No doubt: they spied us. Look this Los Angeles Times’ very recent (last week) article: “Besalú, the most interesting Spanish village you’ve never heard of” http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-besalu-spain-20170521-story.html

      “… you’ve never heard of”????
      😄

      • Covetotop, I was wondering about the elderly couple a couple of tables away from us!

        We found Besalú to be full of tourists, as you said; a lovely town but anyplace that has a tourist train cannot be said to be “undiscovered”!

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