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La Ruta del Cister

About an hour and a bit drive from the Barcelona airport, you can find the Poblet monastery, UNESCO World Heritage:

This Cistercian abbey in Catalonia is one of the largest in Spain. At its centre is a 12th-century church. The austere, majestic monastery, which has a fortified royal residence and contains the pantheon of the kings of Catalonia and Aragon, is an impressive sight.

 

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Entrance to the Monastery

 

Monks still ora and labora at Poblet so visiting hours are restricted (see Monestir de Poblet).

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Google Earth view. Note the fortifications.

 

 

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Sepulcros reales – Pantheon of Kings, Crown of Aragon

 

 

The monastery was founded (1151) by Cistercian monks from France on lands recently conquered from the Moors, at the time divided into many small emirates (taifas). At the time, count Berenguer IV brought about the union of his county of Barcelona with the Kingdom of Aragon.

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The monks make their own wine (part of Codorníu Raventós) which you can taste in their restaurant where they serve a nice hearty lunch (Hostatgería de Poblet – you can even stay the night).

 

A trail has been created that connects Poblet with two other Cistercian monasteries in the region, Vallbona and Santes Creus (GR 175, 105 km – La Ruta del Cister).

 

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GR 175 – La Ruta del Cister

 

By car, it is about half an hour drive from Poblet to Santes Creus, another very impressive Cistercian monastery. Unlike Poblet, monks no longer live there and the monastery is now a museum (Reial Monestir de Santes Creus, and Reial Monestir de Santes Creus).

 

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Santes Creus – Claustro

 

 

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Santes Creus – Entrance

 

If you happen to visit the monasteries on a weekday in November you will have the luxury of an (almost) private visit.

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Santes Creus (Google Earth)

As we could not get enough of monks and monasteries, we stayed at the Parador of Lleida which had just opened its doors (2017). Those familiar with the Paradores of Spain will appreciate this hotel in a former Convent in the old centre of the city of Lleida.

For dinner, we enjoyed the Cuina de la terra of Ferreruela (Guide Michelin, Guía Repsol).

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For the drive, by the way, we followed another route: modernist wineries; the one below by Lluis Domenech i Montaner.

 

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