The Royal Monastery of Pedralbes of Barcelona
Barcelona is world famous for its architecture and art, among the most well-known places to visit are locations like the UNESCO-listed Sagrada Família built by Gaudí in his unique, surrealistic art noveau style, Parc Güell and Casa Milà also Gaudí masterpieces. Among the lively city’s hidden gems, we find the 14th century Royal Monastery of Pedralbes, an exemplary of Catalan gothic architecture of the times.
Although it is less known to the world compared to other Barcelona landmarks, the Royal Monastery of Pedralbes is worth exploring due to its unique beauty and artistic heritage.Originally opened in 1326 for Queen Elisenda de Montcada, the monastery was dedicated to Saint Mary by her husband King James II of Aragon and was maintained by the nuns of Saint Clare. The gothic style is harmonious throughout the whole building, including the lowest floor cloister that was added during the 15th century.
Located outside the city center, in the Pedralbes (meaning “white stones” in Latin ) residential district, this 14th century gothic architectural gem is both a Museum and a Monastery, providing a peaceful oasis where you can enjoy art in tranquility and catch a glimpse of the life of nuns.
THE TOMB OF QUEEN ELISENDA
A highlight of the monastery’s rich artistic heritage, is the marble bifrontal tomb of the monastery’s founder Elisenda de Montcada, who is depicted on one side of the tomb as a mourning widow and on the other as a Queen dressed in royal robes and adorned with a crown. After her husband’s death, the heartbroken Catalano-Aragonese Queen spent the last 30 years of her life in the palace next to the convent and devoted herself to the community.
THE CHAPEL OF SAINT MICHAEL
Restored in 2018, the Chapel of St. Michael gives a glimpse of the influence of Giotto in Ferrer Bassa’s 1346 magnificent frescoes and was once the private worship place of Queen Elisenda de Montcada. The trecento art murals were commissioned by Abbess Francesa ça Portella and depict several saints, the Virgin Mary as well as the Passion of the Christ.
“THE CONVENT OF PEDRALBES. THE CONVENT OF TREASURES.” EXHIBITION
Formerly the Saint Clare nuns’ upstairs dormitory, this space now displays a priceless cultural patrimony that includes paintings of Beato Angelico, Joan Llimona and Tamburini. The vast art collection, ranging from the 14th to the 20th century, also includes sculptures, furniture, gold and silver ustensils used by the nuns and centuries old liturgical objects.
THE PARK OF THE REIAL MONESTIR DE SANTA MARIA DE PEDRALBES
The Saint Mary of Pedralbes Monastery’s rich garden will enchant you with its serene atmosphere, song birds and central Renaissance fountain. It is a perfect place to find peace and escape from the noises of the city. Fascinatingly, the tranquil park also hosts activities and concerts during the summer and spring time due to its beauty and, by visiting the reconstruction of medicinal garden, you can learn all about how Saint Clare nuns used to research and develop cures and remedies based on the plants they collected. A special exhibition called “Plants. remedies and apothecaries.”, focuses on the medical, plant-based science explored by the nuns.
Originally founded by King James of Aragon for his beloved Queen, thus playing a special part in the royal couple’s history and evolution, the Royal Monastery of Pedralbes of Barcelona stands one of the most beautiful monasteries in Europe and holds a rich artistic patrimony that is worth exploring during your stay in magnificent Barcelona!