Sant Pau del Camp Monastery | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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Sant Pau del Camp Monastery

Barcelona’s oldest church conserves an exquisite Romanesque cloister

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A Benedictine monastery built outside of the old city walls is home to one of Europe’s most singular Romanesque cloisters. It was built in the late 10th century beyond the protection of the walled enclosure in the ‘camp’ or countryside, from which it takes its name. Now it forms part of the cultural heritage of the Raval district.

Why visit Sant Pau del Camp Monastery?

Sant Pau del Camp is an old Benedictine monastery and the oldest conserved in the city. It was built at the end of the 10th century outside the city walls of Barcelona, which explains why it was attacked and rebuilt on many occasions until the final expansion of the medieval walled enclosure finally protected it.

The church of the monastery has a single nave covered with a barrel vault with a Greek cross floor plan. It has an apse, two apsidal chapels and a dome with a transept. The portal is framed by two columns finished with Visigothic marble capitals. Outside, your attention is drawn to its decoration with Lombardy arcatures featuring human faces, fantastic beasts and plants.

But the most significant element is undoubtedly its small cloister, which was built in the 13th century and consists of multifoil arches with a clear Muslim influence, making it a Romanesque cloister unlike any other in Europe. Some of the arches have three foils while others have five, and they are all decorated with geometric or plant friezes that rest on twin columns.

The cloister is surrounded by a number of tombs, two of which hold members of the Count of Bell-lloc’s family, and the old chapter house still conserves a tombstone from 911 bearing the name of Wilfred II, the Count of Barcelona and the founder of the monastery.

 

How do you get to Sant Pau del Camp Monastery?

Hop off at the Colom – Museu Marítim stop on the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic and then walk along Avinguda de les Drassanes to the start of Rambla del Raval, where you will find the street of the monastery, Carrer de Sant Pau.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? The church was built on the remains of a previous building, which is why the two columns of the portal are Visigothic in origin.
  • Local’s tip: Very close to Sant Pau del Camp is Avinguda Paral·lel, a street full of theatres and nightspots.
  • A must: To discover a little-known jewel of the Catalan Romanesque.