Travel

Catalan Gothic Architecture 101: Monestir de Pedralbes

I can’t believe I’m still trying to catch up on my late summer adventures while it’s starting to get quite cold here in London! But nonetheless, I’m really excited to share this magical place: Monestir de Pedralbes.

Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 14Though I have explored Barcelona quite a bit, I find that my to-do list becomes more and more interesting each time I visit. Less touristy things show up on my list, and more off-the-beaten-path attractions show up. And honestly, I am so happy I can finally know Barcelona in that special, intimate way.

One of the most magical things about Barcelona is its Gothic architecture. Catalan Gothic is a particular style within the Gothic world. Its style does not seek excessive height and its decoration is often sober. Traditional Gothic architecture tends to focus on verticality, large stained glass, and rough edges. Catalan Gothic architecture is just the opposite. Bet you didn’t know that, did you?

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Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 11Monestir de Pedralbes is a Gothic monastery built in 1326. It housed a community of Poor Clares, mostly members of noble families. The queen at the time, Elisenda de Montcada, built a palace near the monastery so that she may have a place to enjoy in the wake of her husband’s death.

Entering the monastery, one of the more notable rooms is St. Michael’s Chapel. Several fresco paintings by Ferrer Bassa decorate the chapel. Dating back to 1346, they show the influence of the Italian painter Giotto.

Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 13You will quickly find that the monastery is quite large, and also very beautiful. It is like a large campus, so you find many hidden rooms and buildings. One such room is a large one, which functions as a museum. The current exhibition features The Monastery Treasures.

The exhibition presents a unique collection of works of art, furniture and secular and liturgical objects from the monastery treasure, built up over the centuries by the community of Poor Clares at the Royal Monastery of St Mary of Pedralbes.

Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 3Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 4You can definitely fill in a couple hours wandering around and admiring all the artifacts and architectural gems within the monastery.

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Though the inside is very interesting, the cloister itself is beautiful. Walking around outside on a beautiful, sunny day in Barcelona is hard to beat. The cloister has three floors and within the green space there is a central garden of orange trees and palms.

Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 2Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 6Barcelona Monestir de Pedralbes 8The jewel of the monastery is the church. It displays the specific features of Catalan Gothic architecture, great simplicity and grandeur, but also the characteristics of the mendicant architecture of southern Europe. It also has amazing rose window, which glitters so spectacularly in the sun. Amazing!

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