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.
Monastère de Poblet
Située en Catalogne, cette abbaye cistercienne, l'une des plus grandes et des plus achevées, entoure son église qui fut bâtie au XIIe siècle. Associée à une résidence royale fortifiée et abritant le panthéon des rois de Catalogne et d'Aragon, elle impressionne par sa majestueuse sévérité.
يقع هذا الدير البندكتي في كاتالونيا وهو من أكبر الأديرة وأعظمها ويحوط الكنيسة المشيّدة في القرن الثاني عشر. يُلحق الدير بمقر ملكي محصّن يضمّ مدافن ملوك كاتالونيا وأراغون وله حضور عظيم.
Этот цистерцианский монастырь в Каталонии – один из крупнейших в Испании. В его центре расположена церковь XII в. Строгий величественный монастырь, вмещающий укрепленную королевскую резиденцию и пантеон королей Каталонии и Арагона, представляет весьма внушительное зрелище.
Monasterio de Poblet
En este sitio, ubicado en Cataluña, se encuentra una de las abadías cistercienses más grandes y completas del mundo. Edificado en torno a la iglesia levantada en el siglo XIII, el monasterio, impresionante por la severa majestuosidad de su arquitectura, cuenta con una mansión real fortificada y alberga el panteón de los reyes de la Corona de Aragón.
Klooster van Poblet
Het klooster van Poblet in Catalonië is een van de grootste en meest complete Cisterciënzer abdijen in Spanje. Het heeft gediend als een enorm militair complex, en als een koninklijk paleis, residentie en pantheon (van de koningen van Catalonië en Aragon). De abdij geldt als een de meest perfecte uitingen van de cisterciënzer stijl in de 12e, 13e en 14e eeuw. Het bevat meesterwerken van elke periode, zoals de grote albasten retabel van Damian Forment (1529). In het midden staat een 12e-eeuwse kerk en ten noorden daarvan ligt een groep monastieke gebouwen, waaronder het grote klooster met zijn fontein.
Outstanding Universal Value
Poblet Monastery is located in the south of Catalonia, in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, in the municipality of Vimbodí. It is one of the largest and most complete Cistercian abbeys in the world. It was built in the 12th to 15th centuries around a church that dates to the 13th century. It is impressive for the majesty of its architecture and includes a fortified royal residence as well as the pantheon of the kings and queens of Catalonia and Aragon.
The Monastery is structured as three enclosures, surrounded by a defensive wall. The first outer enclosure contains buildings from the 16th century, such as storehouses, workshops, housing for lay workers and other premises connected with the financial life of the community. This enclosure also contains the Gothic chapel of Sant Jordi, built in 1452. The fortified Golden Door gives access to the second enclosure, made up of the Plaça Major, or Main Square, around which stand the remains of the hospital for the poor, the Romanesque chapel of Santa Caterina and the treasury. The third and innermost enclosure is fortified and includes the church, cloister and monastic rooms.
The defensive wall is crenulated and is strengthened by a series of square or polygonal towers, two of which flank the Royal Doorway.
The church is on a three-aisled basilical plan with transepts and an apsidal east end with ambulatory. The ceiling consists of a pointed vault in the central aisle and ribbed vaults on the side aisles. Notable features of the interior of the church are the Renaissance retable and the royal tombs. Mature Gothic forms dominate the great cloister. The earliest parts of the structure are the south gallery and the lavabo around which the oldest buildings of the complex (12th and 13th centuries) are distributed: the chapter house, the refectory, the kitchen and calefactory, the library, the old scriptorium, and the dormitory, built over the library and chapter house.
Poblet Monastery is extraordinarily important in terms of art, culture, history and spirituality and for its key role in the repopulation and agricultural exploitation of New Catalonia under the Crown of Aragon. Its library and scriptorium were well known from the 13th century onwards for their works on law and history, and the monastery served as a custodian of the history of the dynasty as well as the Royal remains.
It is also one of the most important and sumptuous Cistercian monasteries where the functional plan and spirit of the monastery are present throughout its structure. The spiritual quality of the life of Poblet Monastery has also made it a very important centre in the life of the country, from the time of its foundation until the present day.
Criterion (i): Poblet is a unique artistic achievement and one of the most perfect expressions of Cistercian style in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The abbey contains masterpieces from every period such as the great alabaster altarpiece by Damià Forment (1529).
Criterion (iv): The Santa Maria of Poblet complex presents a unique blend of architectural forms generally reserved for distinct applications. Poblet has served as one of the largest and most complete of the Cistercian abbeys, as a massive military complex, and as a royal palace, residence and pantheon.
The inscribed property encompasses 18 ha, with a 163 ha buffer zone. Since the resumption of monastic life at Poblet in 1940, the church, refectory, cloister, chapter house, scriptorium and the abbot’s palace have all been restored, as has the retable of the high altar. Furthermore, the guesthouse and other monastic buildings have been reinstated, returning the monastery to its structure prior to the confiscations of ecclesiastical property in 1835, an event that brought about the abandonment and subsequent pillage of the monument.
Poblet preserves in their entirety all the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. These include the church, refectory, cloister, chapter house, dormitory, scriptorium and the so-called lay-brothers’ wing, in the western enclosure, as well as the defensive perimeter walls and the wall around the convent complex itself, and the great royal gate that closes the entire monastery. As well as the monastic buildings themselves, there are several others within the precinct, among them the abbot's palace. Furthermore, the church preserves the group of royal tombs, and, amongst other remarkable artefacts, the Renaissance alabaster retable of the high altar, and the work of Damià Forment.
Monastic life continued in the monastery until the seizure of church lands in 1835, after which the complex deteriorated. In 1849, however, the Commission for Historic and Artistic Monuments intervened to halt this process. In 1930 reconstruction began and in 1940 monastic life returned to the abbey. The maintenance of its historic and architectural values has been assured through the various restoration and reinstatement works that have been undertaken since then.
Furthermore, the presence of the Cistercian religious community at Poblet, combined with the archives now kept there, such as the Tarradellas Archive, have ensured an authenticity which, in addition to the architectural aspects, extends to its original spiritual values, functions and use.
Protection and management requirements
Poblet Monastery was declared a national monument in 1921. Additional protection legislation includes
Law 16/1985 of 25 June, concerning Spanish Historical Heritage; Law 9/1993 of 30 September, concerning Catalan Cultural Heritage; Law 22/1984 of 9 November, declaring part of the valley where Poblet Monastery stands to be a Landscape of National Interest; and Decree 276/2005, concerning Territorial Commissions for the Cultural Heritage.
In terms of management, the system currently in place considers the primary religious and public use character of the property. The administration and business management is carried out through the Tarragona Territorial Cultural Heritage Commission and the Poblet Board of Trustees, which serve as formal steering groups. The management system also integrates different authorities at the State, Autonomous Community and local levels as per the mandates set forth in the legislative and regulatory framework.
Poblet Monastery has a Master Plan, promoted by the monastic community. The responsibility for the implementation and supervision of this Plan, as well as monitoring its effectiveness, lies with the Government of Catalonia and the Poblet Board of Trustees. The financial resources needed for the conservation and restoration of this monument are drawn from a variety of sources such as the Government of Catalonia, through its Presidential Department, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry for Territory and Sustainability, the Tarragona Provincial Council and revenue from entrance tickets. Public use and tourism management, which are reconciled with respect for the monastic community that inhabits the Monastery, are also addressed through different actions. Furthermore, tourism is also managed in the context of the Cistercian Route.
Santa María of Poblet presents a unique blend of architectural forms generally reserved for distinct applications. It has served as one of the largest and most complete of the Cistercian abbeys, as a massive military complex, and as a royal palace, residence and pantheon. It is a unique artistic achievement and one of the most perfect expressions of Cistercian style in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The abbey contains masterpieces from every period such as the great alabaster retablo by Damian Forment (1529).
Poblet presents a unique blend of architectural forms. First and foremost, it is a Cistercian abbey, one of the largest and most complete that exists. North of the church, laid out in the usual way, is a group of monastic buildings that include the great cloister with its fountain, chapter room, monk's dormitory, parlour and its annex, closed cloister, monk's room which is now a library, calefactory, refectory and kitchens.
The former lay brothers' buildings are on the west and the infirmary to the north. The monastery is complete: it has its private buildings - gatehouse and guest house on the west, the abbot's residence on the south, the prior's lodgings on the north - and its work buildings - the kiln on the north-west side, an oil mill on the south. The spatial organization of common areas for the living is as clear as a textbook model; even the space reserved for the dead seems regulated in the same spirit, i.e. one cemetery for monks, one for lay brothers, and one for the laity.
Poblet is also a fortress, impressive in its massive size. Lying midway between Tarragona and Lérida, at the foot of the Sierra de Montsant, the old Cistercian monastery founded in 1150 by the monks of Fontfroide was transformed into a stronghold by Peter IV the Ceremonious, King of Aragon (1336-87) during the War of Castile. It was he who had the 608 m of interior walls built. These walls are an excellent example of 14th-century military architecture: crenellated battlements with walls 2 m thick and walkways, reinforced with high towers that are either square or polygonal, and its Royal Gate (1379-97) defended by machicolations.
Poblet is, finally, a royal residence, directly associated with the history of the houses of Barcelona, Aragon and Castile. The monastery was founded by Raimond Beranger IV, the saintly Count of Barcelona, to colonize reconquered lands. Later it was considered a symbolic monument of the dynasty. Shortly after 1349 Peter IV decided to do more than fortify Poblet: in the abbey church he had Jaime Cascalls and Jorge de Deu, masters of royal works, build a sumptuous dynasty burial place, using a completely new principle: two enormous sarcophagi reposing on surbased arches, providing for communication between the choir and the deambulatory. The sarcophagi served as sepultures for several kings of the houses of Catalonia and Aragon, identified by their recumbent statues: Alfonso II the Chaste, John I and John II on the southern, epistle side, James I the Conqueror, Peter IV and Ferdinand I on the northern, Gospel side. Several queens are buried alongside their spouses. The royal pantheon extends through the arms of the transept with individual sepultures. Poblet was both the necropolis and the home of kings. In 1397, Martin I commissioned the architect Arnau Bagues to transform the former lay brothers' building into a palace. The project was never completed, but royal chambers, on the east side, later were reserved for royal visitors.
The history of Spain can be traced in the additions made to Poblet. The King of Aragon, Alfonso IV the Magnanimous, had the Chapel of St George built in 1452 to commemorate the victory at Naples in 1442. The Golden Gate was completed on the occasion of a visit by the Catholic Kings and restored during the visit of Philip II. The symbolic value of Poblet in the cultural heritage of Spain was more recently marked by the visit of Alfonso XIII to the disused monastery in 1926 and by the return of his ashes to the royal pantheon in 1952.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC