Santa Maria de Vilabertran, Catalonia, Spain

Santa Maria de Vilabertran is a Romanesque monastery located in Vilabertran (Alt Empordà). It has been a cultural heritage site of national interest since 1930. It is currently part of the Museum of History of Catalonia.

The canonical church of Santa Maria de Vilabertran, erected on the site of a church dedicated to Saint Mary documented between 954 and 986, was founded by Pere Rigald, who by 1060 joined a community of clergymen who adopted the rule of Saint Augustine. circa 1080. As a result of a donation of land by 1069 families from the area, the community lays the foundation for a monastery, and is instituted at Pere Rigau as head. The land donation included a perimeter of 60 stepsto build a cemetery, as well as a fountain opposite the church. Little by little, a community of canons resided in a house adjoining the church of Santa Maria. The new community adopted the rules of St. Augustine. Rigau was his first abbot, and it was decided that at his death the members of the congregation would choose his successor.

In 1080 the construction of the new monastery began. The new church was consecrated on November 11, 1100 by the bishop of Girona Bernat Umbert. Rigau sought to expand the domains of the monastery; His attempt to annex the monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses failed, but the monastery of Santa Maria de Lladó eventually became a subsidiary of Vilabertran.

Rigall died on an undetermined date between 1107 and 1114. Although never followed a process of beatification, he ended up being revered as a saint. The monastery continued to prosper after his death. It was a center for pilgrims to go to the Holy Land, as it had a hospital. The abbots of Pere de Torroja (brother of Arnau de Torroja, Grand Master of the Order of the Temple) and of Ramon d’Usall (1152-1179) were especially important in this collaboration with the military Orders and the Passage. in the Holy Land. In 1176, Viscount Gifré de Rocabertí donated to Abbot Ramon of the town of Vilabertran for the monastery.

On October 29, 1295, the link between King James II of Aragon and Blanca de Naples, his second wife, was celebrated in Santa Maria. In the middle of the 14th century it was endowed with a large silver cross with Egyptian cameos, with a relic of the Veracreu possibly from the Eymeric d’Usall embassy (1303-1304, 1305-1306) that the release of Friar Dalmau de Rocabertí, from the house of the lords of Peralada and Vilabertran. This hypothesis supports the claim made by Fr. Dromendari that Fr. Dalmau de Rocabertí, the Templar, would have died in Vilabertran in 1326.

In the 15th century, Abbot Antoni Girgós (1410-1424) built the abbey palace, fortified the monastery and built the Clock Tower. In 1592 the canon was secularized and turned into a collegiate governed by an archpriest. During the eighteenth century the chapel of Sorrows and the new sacristy were added to the north flank of the church. At the end of the 18th century, the archive and the library were lost as a result of the sacking of French troops during the Great War (1794). With the confiscation of 1835, all units, except for the church, were passed into the hands of private individuals and underwent a major degradation process. The recovery of the monastery began in 1941, after in 1930 it was declared a national monument.

Between 1948 and 1955, under the direction of the architect Pelayo Martínez, the first restoration work was carried out, focused on the church, and in spite of its correction, the demolition of part of the fortification work of the fifteenth century was carried out. The Abbey Palace and the rest of the fortifications have been especially protected by Law 16/85 of “Spanish Historical Heritage”. Between 1980 and 1991, the monastic complex was fully integrated by the Generalitat of Catalonia.

Located within the town center of the town of Vilabertran, on the western side of the term, delimited by the street of the Abbey and the squares of the Church and the Monastery. The architectural complex consists of the church, the cloister, the monastic outbuildings and a later extension, located on the south side, formed by the walled perimeter and the abbey palace.

Church with basilical plan of three naves with transept, and three semicircular apses headed east. The central nave is covered with a barrel vault reinforced by four arches, which at the same time rest on cylindrical columns with molded capitals, and are attached to the walls. The side ships, on the other hand, have quarter-circle turns and less height than the central ones, which open through semicircular arches supported by cylindrical columns and rectangular pilasters with capitals. The transept is covered by a barrel vault and communicates with the side ships by quarter-circle arches. Both the apse and the two apsidioles are covered by quarter-turn vaults and open at the cruise by semicircular arches with molded capitals.

The triumphal arch of the greater apse consists of two semicircular arches, resting on columns of semicircular plan with decorated capitals. On the pillar next to the Gospel of the triumphal arch, an inscribed tombstone indicates the resting place of “part of the remains, the most important” of Alfons el Cast, king of Aragon and count of Barcelona. It probably refers to the bowels, which were deposited there while the rest of the body moved to Santa Maria de Poblet.

Around the wall that forms the absidal basin of the greater apse is a succession of seven semicircular arches, supported by circular columns with decorated capitals, and seated on a base. In the 14th century, the Rocabertí funeral chapel was added to the north side of the cruise ship. It is covered by a ribbed vault with the centerpiece decorated and the edges supported by thin columns attached to the walls. The chapel opens to the cruise by means of a slender pointed arch with terraced pillars and capitals. Below is the Chapel of the Dolors, added to the set in the 18th century and renovated in 1960 by the architect Pelai Martínez.

It consists of two rooms, the first covered by a ridge vault and the second by a dome that rests on a molded cornice. The rooms are connected by a semicircular arch supported by pillars attached to the walls, with molded capitals. The access door to the chapel is a semicircular arch. Next to the chapel is the new sacristy, built in the 18th centurytoo. The temple lights through several windows. The three apertures of the apse, the six of the central nave and the one of the south side of the transept are double-split and semicircular arches. Above the triumphal arch of the greater apse and the two apses are bull’s-eye, and in the Rocabertí chapel there is a large rose window and two pointed arch windows.

As for the portals, the one that gives access to the sacristy is of a vaulted lowered arch, whereas the one that communicates with the cloister, attached to the noon nave, has a pointed arch with columns and decorated capitals. The old Romanesque door, currently covered, is a semicircular arch with lintel and tympanum decorated with the pictorial representation of Agnus dei. At the foot of the church, encased in the side walls, there are the tombs of Abbot Rigall and Abbot Hortolà. The main facade of the temple, facing west, has a rectangular access door with lintel and semicircular eardrum. This opening is the product of an unfinished reform that sought to monumentalize it.

The ware also has three double-glazed windows and semicircular arches, decorated with saw teeth and located on the sides and sides of the portal. At the northwest end of the wall is the bell tower. It is quadrangular and is spread over three floors, with twin semicircular windows framed by four Lombard arches on all sides. The separation between the floors is marked with a sawtooth frieze. It is covered by a dome inside and a four-pitched roof on the outside. The facade should have another bell tower to the right that did not get up.

Externally, the central apse has slabs at the bottom of the wall, and a sawtooth frieze runs through the three apses under the roofs. The window of the main apse also has a sawtooth decoration. The chapel of the Rocabertí has reinforcements buttresses on the angles. The outer openings that illuminate the new sacristy, on the north side of the portal, are of lowered arches and are framed with limestone ashlars. The construction is scaffolded with small irregular ashlars at the bottom of the wall and larger ashlars, well polished and arranged in rows. Inside, the walls and vaults are made of regular ashlars of various sizes, and the arches are made of roughened voussoirs.

The cloister, attached to the nave of the temple at noon, is trapezoidal in plan, with a central garden and surrounded by several monastic units. The four cloister galleries feature single-slope roofs, while the interior is covered with quarter-circle vaults. They consist of porches of eight arches on each side. The semicircular arches are supported by pairs of columns and pilasters, or two columns alternately, with simple capitals and decorated with plant motifs. The access door inside the church, located in the Tramuntana gallery, is rectangular and framed with stone ashlars, with the date 1722 engraved on the lintel. On the outer side they have sawtooth friezes. The wall is built with well-grinding ashlars arranged in rows.

The buildings that make up the monastery dependencies are rectangular, with two tiled roofs and distributed on the ground floor and floor, except for the noon wing, on one level. The east wing presented, on the ground floor, the old sacristy and the chapter room, although it is currently a unique space. It is covered by a very low barrel vault and has semicircular openings with voussoirs at the top, supported by the inner side. Upstairs is the canons’ bedroom, with its two-tiered roof reinforced with pointed arches supported on the side walls. The facade of the east, facing to the outside, has two semicircular doorways with voussoirs and narrow narrow openings in the form of loopholes. On the floor, the windows are rectangular,

In the noon wing was the refectory. It is covered with a pointed vault and presents, on the south façade, five large double-glazed windows and semicircular arches. The west wing is also covered with a pointed vault and has an access portal from the outside, built in the 16th century., when this space was destined for the chapel of Sant Ferriol. It is a carpanel arch opening framed with stone ashlars and fine columns with fairly ornate capitals. Above it is a lumpy oculus. In the southwest corner of the cloister are the kitchen and the cellar, spaces covered with ribbed vaults over terraced pilasters at a very low level. The constructions are built with rough stone ashlars arranged in rows. From these rooms you access the courtyard of the abbey palace, located at noon of the cloister. The courtyard is bounded by fortified walls that also strengthen the upper part of the monastic outbuildings on the east side and the abbey palace. They are topped with rectangular battlements and open loops in the middle, and are made of unworked stone of various sizes,

Abbot Palace
The Abbey Palace, located on the south side of the courtyard, is rectangular, with a two-sided roof and distributed over three floors. The main facade has a large semicircular portal that gives direct access to the patio and several elongated loopholes on the ground floor. On the floor are large rectangular windows with trilobed arches supported by columns and decorated capitals. Some of the windows are biforated and others are triforate. Above the portal is a pointed arch niche with the image of the Virgin. Attached to the east side of the palace is another of the monastery units, identified with the possible 12th-century hospital. Inside it has rooms covered with low barrel vaults and others made of planar bricks with a later chronology. Yes It opens to the courtyard through a semicircular portal and two large arched arches made of rough stone. Both constructions are scaffolded with nonworking stones bound with lime mortar.