Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sant Pere de Rodes monastery

If you follow our road for about 10 minutes up to the top of Verdera mountain you come to the old Benedictine monastery of Saint Pere de Rodes, about 500 metres above sea level. We have passed the imposing buildings many times in our travels and decided to visit today.

The views from the monastery are really breathtaking. You can clearly see our village, El Port de la Selva, as well as Llanca to the north and much of the Cap de Creus coastline. The monastery is just below the ridgeline and not far away are the ruins of Santa Helena church. Nearby excavations are uncovering an ancient village. The fascinating thing as you take in the view is that you can clearly see the old terraces, where the olive groves and vines grew. Sadly, today they are covered with pine trees.

It is very easy to tour the monastery with everything being clearly marked. With the help of our guidebook we could see how the monastery expanded over time, particularly from the 10th to 14th centuries. During this time the monastery was an important place of pilgrimage as well as centre of political and economic power.

Wars, epidemics, religious and social upheaval, and piracy all took their toll on the monastery. The monks finally left in the late 1700s and the abandoned monastery soon fell into ruin.

Renovations began in the 1930s and a major restoration took place in the 1990s. It is now one of Spain's most visited ancient monuments. It was really interesting to see how the monastery was the centre of life on the land. As we completed our tour we found a lovely restaurant in the upper parts of the monastery overlooking the port. Unfortunately, we had eaten lunch before we left home, so we settled for a coffee. Next time, lunch!

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