Santes Creus
Distance from L’Hospitalet de l’Infant: 70 km
Type of acitivity: cultural, sightseeing
Time required: half day
Santes Creus
 
The abbey's origins date to 1158, when the Lords of Montagut and Albá donated the village of Santes Creus to the monks of Valdaura, who began building the monastery in 1174 and completed it in 1225.  The complex, built in accordance with sober Cistercian principles, included a church, a cloister, chapter house and dormitory. There were also a refectory, parlor, and scriptorium (writing hall).
 

King Peter III of Aragón (1239-1285) chose to be buried in the abbey of Santes Creus, as did his son James II (1276–1327) and his wife, Blanche of Anjou (1280-1310). From the time of Peter IV (1319-1387), the royal privilege of serving as a pantheon for the royal family was transferred to the abbey of Poblet. James II had a section of the abbey converted into royal apartments, the original Romanesque cloister rebuilt in the Gothic style of the 13th century, and a dome added to the church.

Recesses in the wall of the cloister house tombs of several Catalan noblemen and show remains of paintings, one representing the Annunciation.
 
Santes Creus

The columns of the cloister have highly ornamented capitals with foliate, animal and human figures, biblical scenes as well as scenes from peasant life.
 
Santes Creus
Detail of a capital showing a bagpipe player

The main façade of the church has a Romanesque portal surmounted by a large Gothic stained glass window. It has a Latin cross plan, with a nave and lower aisles of six bays. The apse is characterized by a rose window and, below, three small ogival windows that are now hidden behind the high altar in the interior. Each bay of the interior has a quadripartite vault, between broad, slightly pointed arches rising from square piers. As in many other Cistercian churches, the interior has no decoration, aside from the tombs and the altarpiece, dating to 1640.
 
Santes Creus

The chapter hall is accessed from the cloister through a Romanesque portal framed on either side by a large mullioned window of equal height, the three openings forming a triple arcade. The hall has a square plan, divided into nine cross-vaulted sections by four central columns.
 
Santes Creus

The monastic complex continued to expand during the 17th and 18th centuries, until the secularization and confiscation acts of Mendizábal (also known as Desamortisación) brouhgt monastic life to an end in 1835.