The monastery of Poblet, Catalonia

You get a sense of chill when entering the portal of the monastery of Poblet, a sense of secrecy and silence  which permeates every step of your way. Poblet lies a mere 30 minutes drive from Tarragona, beyond the industrial landscape  and deep into the foothills of the mountains of Prades, surrounded by peace and the past.

Founded in 1151 and designated last place of rest of the kings of the Crown of Aragon, it has a chequered history which almost saw its destruction during  the land reformations brought by the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal in 1835 during which a great number of church properties were seized by the state. The monastery of Poblet with its historic treasure of painting and artifacts was ransacked and plundered by an angry mob and part of it was set on fire. What remains today is the reconstruction and restoration initiated in the 1940’s by Italian monks; the building, now home to 29 monks,  has been listed as one of  UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

The exterior. surrounded by sloping vineyards,  reminds one of a fortress rather than a place of worship and meditation. It’s stony exterior grey and austere, punctuated by the occasional small windows and the deep doorway which lead to the interior of the building. Here one encounters almost bare rooms with the immense refectory and library. The inner courtyard in which nature thrives hosts a moss covered fountain, the gentle sound of water almost a welcome relief to the silence of the place, a beautiful place to sit and think before getting lost inside the the clockwork of the building.

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