The Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes – a monumental complex in a Gothic style

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes - a monumental complex in a Gothic style

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes belongs to the order of the Poor Clares located in the Pedralbes district of Barcelona. Their buildings form a remarkable monumental set of gothic style. Since March 2012, the Pedralbes Monastery has been a heritage center attached to the Barcelona Institute of Culture. In 2019 it had 83,552 visitors.

The Poor Clares, officially the Order of Saint Clare (Latin: Ordo sanctae Clarae) – originally referred to as the Order of Poor Ladies, and later the Clarisses, the Minoresses, the Franciscan Clarist Order, and the Second Order of Saint Francis – are members of a contemplative Order of nuns in the Catholic Church. The Poor Clares were the second Franciscan branch of the order to be established. Founded by Saints Clare of Assisi and Francis of Assisi on Palm Sunday in the year 1212, they were organized after the Order of Friars Minor (the first Order), and before the Third Order of Saint Francis for the laity.

As of 2020, there were over 20,000 Poor Clare nuns in over 75 countries throughout the world. They follow several different observances and are organized into federations.

The perimeter of the Pedralbes Monastery was originally walled. From this wall, only two watchtowers and two of the gates have survived, which gave access to this place.

The Pedralbes Church consists of a single nave with seven sections of four-sided vaults and a heptagonal apse. Chapels are located between the buttresses of the first three vaults (that is, between the door and the apse); the fourth section corresponds to the door that opens onto Plaça del Monestir, and the last three to the choir, which in the fifth section has two floors (lower choir and upper choir).

Until the nineteenth century, the choir was separated from the rest of the church by a wall that rose almost to the vault and had a barred window with a thick lattice in the middle, through which the nuns could follow the trade, but in 1894 the wall of the high choir was demolished and the wall of the low choir was doubled to support the weight of the organ, which was installed approximately in the place of the window.

Queen Elizabeth’s pantheon is located between the monastery and the church. It is located on a dividing wall between two outbuildings, therefore it includes a two-faced tomb, one side of which faces the monastery, and the other towards the church. Thus, the tilted statue above the tomb can depict the queen in two of her facets: in the church – a public fence accessible to all believers – Elisenda elegantly dressed and crowned like a queen, with polychrome decor and marble sculptures, and next to her – a monastery – inside the fence and available only to the monastic community – she is depicted in Franciscan clothing, dressed as a widow and a nun, with terracotta sculptures.

No documentation of the tomb has survived: despite the fact that it is one of the most famous sculptural works of the time, the author is unknown. It is known that when the queen gave her will in 1364, the tomb was already finished.

Address: Baixada del Monestir, 9, 08034 Barcelona

Opening hours: Monday closed, Tuesday 10: 00-16: 30, Wednesday 10: 00-16: 30, Thursday 10: 00-16: 30, Friday 10: 00-16: 30, Saturday closed, Sunday 10: 00– 19: 30

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