THE CISTERCIAN TRIANGLE, MONASTERIES AND VINEYARDS
The Unison Routes team has recently re-explored southern Catalonia, to think up some awesome new excursions in an area close enough to Barcelona and still surprisingly off the beaten track.
Not far from Tarragona, almost nine hundred years ago, Cistercian monastic communities settled on land then recently conquered from the Moors. The area is known today as the Cistercian Triangle because of its three sister monasteries, Poblet, Santes Creus and Vallbona.
We chose to start with the first of them, the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. In order to fully experience the tranquil atmosphere of this historical monastic complex surrounded by gorgeous vineyards, we chose stay at the Monastery’s Guesthouse for one night. Just before dusk, when the monks were about to start singing the vespers, we walked across the cloister. In such an evocative atmosphere, we could not help remembering the warlike kings of Aragon who in the olden days protected this place, fortified it and often visited it. As we entered the monastery’s awe-inspiring church we were deeply impressed by the severe and unadorned Cistercian architecture. What we marveled at, though, was the beautiful alabaster artwork of the Royal Pantheon at the crossing and of the Renaissance altarpiece by Damià Forment in the apse.
After feeding our souls with so much beauty, suddenly remembering we also had to feed our long-forgotten bodies, we walked down to a restaurant near the monastery. We ended our great day in Poblet treating ourselves to traditional dishes and pairing them with local Conca del Barberà red wine