Sant Pere de Rodes Monastery

Tel.: 0034 972 387 559
Fax: 972194231
reservesspv.acdpc@gencat.cat
http://patrimoni.gencat.cat/en/collection/monastery-sant-pere-de-rodes

Schedule

Tuesday to Sunday, public holidays included.
1st. October- 31st May: 10'00 - 17'30 h.
1st. June - 30th September: 10'00 - 20'00 h.
Closed on not public holidays, 25th-26th December and 1st and 6th January.

 

Location

The Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes is located on the Verdera mountain, in the Rodes mountain chain, at around 520 m high, with a visual range of the bay from El Port de la Selva and la mar d'Amunt (northern part of Cap de Creus), in addition to a big part of the Massif of Cap de Creus.

The Monastery can be accessed by car or on foot. The local road that departs from Port de la Selva should be taken at the crossroad of Selva de Mar. 

A good trip is to take the trail that departs from Vall de Santa Creu to the Monastery or follow the GR11 trail from el Port de la Selva.

 

What you will find

There is news from the monastery on 878, when it was a humble monastic cell. On the first half of X century it already was an independent abbey. On XI and XII century the monastery adopted its principal configuration, although it underwent several reformations along its long history. It was finally abandoned on 1835 due to pillage and confiscation.

The most important element of the monument is the church, unique masterpiece of its style in the Catalan Romanesque. The central nave is exceptionally grandiose and rich in decorations. The capitals, Caliphal style, are Corinthian or interlace and are considered the best sculpture pieces of XI century.

Online site: http://patrimoni.gencat.cat/ca/coleccio/monestir-de-sant-pere-de-rodes

Complimentary services

  • Shop
  • Restaurant

Guided tours

RESERVATION OF ALL GUIDED TOURS: 972 387 559 o reservesspv.acdpc@gencat.cat

Shop guided tours in advance online clicking here.

 

Educational activities

Information and reservations: 972 387 559 o reservesspv.acdpc@gencat.cat.

 

Monastery Restaurant

Daily special and menu, Enterprise meals and banquets

 

Schedule

1st. October- 31st May: 10'00 – 17'00 h.
1st. June - 30th September: 10'00 - 19'00 h.
July and august open at night on reservation.

 

Contact:

Tel. 972 194 233  /  610 310 073

More information here.

 

Story

The real origin of the monastery has not been found. It was a reason of speculation and legend in the past, like the legend that it was founded by monks that disembarked in the area with remains of St. Pere and other saints to custody them from being profaned by barbarian hordes that threatened to attack Rome. After the threat was over, the Pope Boniface IV ordered to build the temple.  

The first written document of the existence of the monastery dates from 878, where it is mentioned as a humble monastic cell consecrated to saint Pere. It is not until 945 when it is considered an independent Benedictine monastery, ruled by an abbot. Linked to the Empúries County, it reached its splendour in XI- XII century.

The growing importance of the temple made it a pilgrimage destination, especially on the Saint Cross jubilee in May (in the years when the holy day was on a Friday), that were celebrated at late XVII century.

From XVII century onward, it was pillaged several times by French armies and bandits. In 1793 the Benedictine community abandoned it, it moved to Vila-sacra. In 1809 the community moved to Figueres, until the expulsion decree in 1835 dissolved it and the following confiscation liquidated their goods.

At the mercy of any bandits, it remained one century without any type of protection from the Estate. Finally it was declared National Historicartistic Monument in 1930. In 1935 the Generalitat de Catalunya started the first reformations that were stopped by the Civil war 1936-1939. Although the Francoist regime made a declaration in 1949 that abandoned it again, the reformation restarted in the sixties. The Law of Catalan Cultural Heritage protects it. In 1993 the Generalitat protects it as Cultural Heritage of National Interest.

Late Roman Age


The archaeological discoveries go back in history to the Roman Age: reused marble material and structures found at the foundation level at a zone near the apse can be dated to the late Roman Age.

Middle-age

The first written document where the monastery is mentioned is dated in 878. There are also mentioned monastic cells of the Perelada County, which are in dispute between the monastery of Sant Policarp del Rasés and Sant Esteve de Banyoles for their rule. These disputes end in X century when the Monastery becomes independent. The first splendour moment of the Monastery begins with the protection of the noble Tassi. In the first half of the X century, its belongings increase and is protected by the Count of Empúries-Rosselló, Gausfred I. There are a lot of documents from X century that talk about these donations and privileges.

 
In XI century, a new monastery is rebuilt on previous structures with a new church, consecrated in 1022, and monk chambers organised around the cloister. This organization boosted the inner communication between the different chambers and separated the community from the outside world. The Carolingian culture spread a cultural and spiritual model all over its empire, including the structure of its monasteries, following the rule of St. Benet. They all had a similar organisation. In this century the Counts of Empúries continue to protect and give donations to the Monastery. In 1088 the Monastery receives a papal bull from pope Urban II to start the True Cross jubilee, when the True Cross holy day was on Friday. They were celebrated until 1697.

At the beginning of XII century, the construction from the previous century continues. After the second half of the century, there are violent confrontations between Perelada and the county of Empúries that have consequences in the Monastery. Later these boost its rebuilding. From this point on the upper cloister is reformed, there are interventions in the church, the access to the monastery, the gate of Master of Cabestany, the cemetery and the bell tower.

To show this situation of conflict, it is pointed out a document from 1185 where the count Pons promises that they will not make nor let anybody make violent actions against the monastery nor his subjects.

The XIII century is marked by the continuation of the construction from the previous century. There is prosperity and donations and privileges continue. In 1273 and 1279 the King James I takes the abbey and its inhabitants under his care. There is conflict with the County of Empúries. In 1283 the count of Empúries Pons V rebuilds the castle of Verdera and confirms donations from the counts to the monastery.

The prosperity of the monastery continues until the middle of XIV century. Then two causes reduce its importance: on one hand, the “relaxation in the tradition”, typical in all religious sites in this age that resulted in corruption and failure to fulfil religious duties. There is also no donation from the county of Empúries, protector of the monastery, and the end of the first count dynasty. On the other hand, the other big cause is the black plague. In 1345, 24 monks die; and by extension there were more deceased between the population that resided in the territory ruled by the monastery.

In 1359 and 1360 there are acts signed before an attorney with the agreements of the whole monk community at the capital chamber. They inform that some parts of the monastery are in risk of becoming ruined and a restoration that affects a big part of the monk chambers is proposed. In 1378 stone altarpiece is created.

Modern age

There have not been many news about the monastery nor its construction and artistic activity from the XV and XVI century. In 1447 begins the series of commendatory abbots. Traditionally, the historiography situates this age as a decline period marked with piracy and the effects of the plague.

In spite of this decline, there is minor construction activity inside the monastery: In the first half of the XVI century, there is a reformation of the central apse, the commission to Pere Mates of an altarpiece for the altar table. There are other reformations of the church in XVII-XVIII century, in the Abbot’s Palace too. Also there is the construction of a building known as New Sacristies and reformations in the cloister buildings.

XVII and XVIII are marked by the wars with France and the beginning of the pillage and plunder by the French. Attacks have been documented in 1654, when the monastery was abandoned for 6 years, in 1675, in 1693 and 1708, when the Noailles duke steals the Rodes Bible from XI century. Bandits also plunder the monastery several times.

Current age

The community moves to Vilasacra in 1798 and Figueres in 1818. In 1834 the community is extinguished.

In 1930 the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes is declared a national monument by Royal Order. This category is ratified in 1985 and in 1997 is declared Cultural Property of National Interest by Generalitat de Catalunya.

In XX century there are some restorations, whose result is the monument we can see nowadays. The restorations by the architect Jeroni Martorell were realised in 1931 and 1935, following two goals: on one hand, protection and consolidation of the parts that required it to stop its degradation, and on the other hand, recover and give relevance to the middle-aged building against the following constructions. The following phase from 1942 to 1972, the restoration work is directed by the architect Alejandro Ferrant Vázquez, following the goals of consolidation and reconstruction (of the Romanesque monastery), following the idea of Martorell. In 1978 a project by the architect José Sancho Roda is approved. In 1980 there is a change in the interventions for restoration with the projects of J. A Martínez Lapeña, who has a different sensibility and goals: turn the Monastery into a monument suitable for visitors, respect the preserved architecture and promote archaeological excavations and prospections before any intervention is realised. In the Directing Plan of the monastery is created.

The archaeological interventions were started in 1952 by Martín Almagro, who stopped the plunder of the monastery. The interventions were limited to recollection of all elements that seemed valuable. In 1962 excavations were started by Miquel Oliva. In 1981-2 it is excavated by University of Barcelona. In 1989 there are new archaeological excavations directed by Montserrat Mataró. From then on, every restoration process requires a previous archaeological study.

Bibliography

  • J. Badia i Homs, Middle-age architecture in Empordà, vol. 2-B, Girona, Diputació Provincial de Girona, 1981, pp. 47-114, 118-128, 134-144, 578-579, 582-594 i 596-598.
  • J.-A. Adell i E. Riu Barrera, "Sant Pere de Rodes", a Romanesque Catalonia, vol. 27, Barcelona, Enciclopèdia Catalana, 1998, pp. 148-156.
  • I. Lorés i Otzet (with the col. de C. Mancho i S. Vidal), The monastery of de Sant Pere de Rodes, Bellaterra (etc.), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (etc.), 2002.

 

Architecture

The monastery was built on terraces adapted to the slope of the Verdera Mountain. It includes buildings from different ages: from its foundation to its abandonment.

The centre of the monument is the cloister. But in Sant Pere de Rodes, it must be talked about cloisters, but not next to each other: overlapped. This position favoured the orography. The upper cloister, XII century, is much damaged due to the plunder in XIX and XX century, and there are few remains in site. From the few capitals that were placed again during the reconstruction in 1960-1970 stands out the one that presents a group of monks. Capitals from this cloister are preserved in museums in Barcelona and Paris and private collections. The recent restorations and the cleaning of the ruins unveiled a second cloister, lower and more primitive, made of big midpoint arches without any decoration.

The church, consecrated in 1022, is the main piece of the monument. It is a Romanesque style building with a great influence of the late Romanesque architecture. It has a cross plan, three apses (the central one in parabolic shape) and three naves covered in barrel vaults. They stand out for their narrowness, especially the side naves, and its monumental height. The naves are separated by pillars decorated with columns attached by two or three of their sides, over high socles, and placed in double height order. They support the transverse ribs and transverse arches. These columns come from some Roman building, and rest on a high socle and have capitels of Corinthian influence, with prominent abacus. For its location, they are one of the few pieces that were not pillaged. The attraction of pilgrimage explains the presence of an ambulatory in the apse at the central nave that serves a continuation of the side aisles. Under the apse there is a crypt of moderate dimensions. This church summarises the originality of the previous architectural trends, from the Roman constructions of the late Antiquity to the pre-Romanesque Carolingian through the local tradition. This originality provoked a high controversy amongst the scholars and it makes it be considered one of the main examples of the Romanesque in Catalonia.

In front of the church there is a wide atrium or galilee, where there were tombs of different personalities, including some Counts of Empúries, but there are few remains left. The church opened to this atrium with a monumental gate, work of Master of Cabestany, that if it had not been severely pillaged in XIX century, it would be one of the most important monuments from the Catalan Romanesque. There are a few remains in some museums and private collections, amongst them stands out a panel that represents the appearance of Christ to his disciples over the sea, at the Marès Museum in Barcelona.

 

At the western facade of the Monastery stands the bell tower, square plan in Lombard style, from XII century. Next to it stands the Defence tower (or Keep) that was probably started in X century and later went through a long reconstruction and reformation process.

 

Protection measures

The monastery is located in the protected area of Natural Park of Cap de Creus, specifically in the area of Natural landscape of National Interest.

It is declared National historicartistic monument in 1930. 

It is declared Cultural property of National Interest protected under the Catalan law of cultural Property of 1993.

 

Legends

The solemnity of the monument, the ruins, the lack of documents, the oral tradition, and human occupation since old times, Sant Pere de Rodes and its environment the center of a lot of legends. Recently the city council of el Port de la Selva has published the book of The Golden Goat, a story that takes notes of different legends.

Following there are some of the legends of the monastery and the Verdera mountain chain:



The Leap of the Moor queen

On the western side of the Verdera Mountain, next to the castle, there is a big Cliff known as el Salt de la Reina Mora (the Leap of the Moor Queen). Legend tells that inside the castle lived a wali moor with his court. In a Christian attack, the wali moor and his troops were defeated. Then the moor queen took one of her best horses and some of her servants to go help the King. When the defeat was imminent, she ran with her horse towards a Cliff and made a big leap. The moor queen crashed against a rock at the bottom and lost her life. The people living around the site say that, sometimes, on sad moonless nights, in the silence of the night, the sorrowful lamentations of the moor queen can be heard.

Pla Cargol, Joaquín; Traditions, sanctuaries and typism of Gironan region. Dalmau Carles, Pla.



The leap of the Queen

They say that around year 500, the count of Empúries had a very very beautiful daughter, an exceptional beauty. The count, jealous of the beauty of his daughter, hoping to wed her to a noble that benefited him, isolated her in the Verdera castle. The girl was alone in the castle for several years. The day arrived when the count decided to wed her, but then he discovered that her daughter was deeply in love with a simple shepherd and her love was corresponded. The count, when he found out that his plan had failed, became furiously enraged. The poor girl, terrified of the reprimand from her father, threw herself down, crashing her beautiful body against the stones and the land she loved. For this sorrowful event, the people gave her the title of queen, for the one who for listening to her heart did not become a countess. As a result from that love a child was born. His name was Ecipini, who is linked by some to one of the three monks who years after returning from Rome with sacred relics, founded the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes.

Pla Cargol, Joaquín; Traditions, sanctuaries and typism of Gironan region. Dalmau Carles, Pla.

 

The leap of Reina

This legend refers to a name, Reina, who was the daughter of the castle guardian. In XII century, the Verdera castle, under the protection of the count Hugh of Empúries, was attacked by the count William of Besalú "the Crazy”. Reina was pursued by the soldiers and she jumped over the cliff. Reina’s body disappeared. Sometimes, on full-moon nights, the villagers of nearby towns can see how the body of Reina falls down the rocks. The conflicts between the counts of Empúries and Besalú ceased thanks to the intervention of the abbot Oliba.


Vayreda, Montserrat. Magical Empordà (l'Alt Empordà). Our Land

 

Monastery foundation Legend. The Roman relics.

In times when the Emperor Focas governed in the West, VII century and in Rome there was the Pope Boniface IV, the following events happened. In front of the threat of an imminent attack from the powerful army of Babylonia and the Persians, joined to devastate and dominate Rome, and also get hold of the bodies of Saint Peter and Saint Paul among other Saints; the Pope Boniface organised a council to discuss what to do in front of this emergency situation. The Roman Princes and Patricians agreed that it was convenient to take out of Rome the body of Saint Peter, specifically the head and the right arm, and the body of his disciple, Saint Peter Exorcist, and three other martirs, Concordi, Lucidi and Morerand. It was necessary that this task was given to trusted men and to send them to the most eastern parts of France, in search of a safe place until the threat was over. In procession, the Pope and all the clergy took the relics and a bottle of Christ’s blood to a ship. In it went some monks, among them Feliu, Pons and Epicini. They followed the Tiber River to the sea and arrived to the port called Armen-Rodas. They stayed there for 3 days before going in to land, where they found water. They climbed over the mountain of Verdera where they found another fountain. Not far from there, they also found a cave with a little altar inside that the bishop of Narbonne, Sant Pau built when he stayed there for two or three years. They took the relics and deposited them inside that cave. They closed it and they returned to sea. Some weeks later, they returned but they could not find the cave because a lot of grass and thorns had grown there.


Vayreda, Montserrat. Magical Empordà (l'Alt Empordà). Our Land

 

Legend of the Monastery’s foundation. The pirenaic Venus

Legend of the Monastery’s foundation: Sant Pere and sant Peret de Roda.

A long time ago, in our seas there was a terrible pirate known as “stone heart” that destroyed and devastated everywhere he set foot on. Everybody was terrified to of his grasp, because once one became his prisoner, he asked for ransom or he enslaved them. Once he disembarked in Roses and made many captives, among them a seven year old child. All prisoners were tied up and wore big heavy chains. They cried and lamented their fate. All but the child, who was not tied, that kept going from one side to the other, consoling the rest of prisoners. One day, the pirate, surprise by the behaviour of the child, called to him and asked him why he did not cry or play like the other children of his age. He replied that he had a missioned sent by God to try to console the rest of captives. The words of the child enraged the pirate, who could not forget them. Days passed by and the pirate still could not get out of his head the words of the child. The pirate called to him again. He asked for his name, it was Pere. The more he talked to the child, the more determined he was, and he ended up seeing the child as touched by his God. Then he turned Christian, abandoned piracy, and got many followers who settled near the place where they took the child, the Verdera Mountain. There they built a monastery, the pirate named Pere was the first abbot and the child succeeded him as the following abbot. In the popular book of saints are known as Sant Pere and Sant Peret de Roda.

Amades, Joan. The best popular legends. Editorial Selecta.

 

Legend of the stay of the emperor Charlemagne at the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes

As it happens in many places, by oral tradition has reached us that the emperor Charlemagne stayed in the Monastery. Carles Fages de Climent picked this tradition in his poem "Dream of Cap de Creus"

Vayreda, Montserrat. Magical Empordà (l'Alt Empordà). Our Land

 

Legend of the stay of the emperor Charlemagne at the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes

The popular tradition says that Charlemagne climbed to the Santa Elena chapel to pray, near the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. While he prayed, he left his sword on the altar. When he took his sword again, he discovered that its blade had turned into fire. This is the reason for the strength of the emperor and his victories in battle.

Pla Cargol, Joaquín; Traditions, sanctuaries and typism of Gironan region. Dalmau Carles, Pla.

 

The Penical flower

Tomàs Garcès made stays in Selva de Mar. In this tale, published in 1964 in the magazine Resurgence, directed by a son of El Port de la Selva, Hipòl.lit Nadal i Mallol, in Buenos Aires, tell the sensations of the Rodes mountain chain, through colours but especially through the flowers and plants of Verdera Mountain in April. The tale tells a trip, in first person, from the path that starts at Sant Sebastià in Selva de Mar to Mas de la Pallera through la Font dels Monjos (The Monks’ Fountain), the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, Santa Helena and finally the country house. The tale has as its main character the penical flower that heals everything and gives everything. According to Honorat, the owner of the country house, it is hidden among the ruins of the monastery.

Garcés, Tomàs; The Penical flower. Resurgence. 1964.

 

The Holy Grail

There are different versions of what the Holy Grail is. Some say that it is the glass where Jesus Christ drank wine during the Last Supper, before starting his Passion. Others say that it is the gold glass where Joseph of Arimathea gathered the blood of Christ while nailed to the cross.

It is said that between the towns of Cadaqués and Selva de Mar exist the ruins of a small shrine dedicated to the Whiteflower virgin. Traditionally, it was said that this chapel worshipped the White Flower, in the shape of a chalice, where Apostle Saint Peter gathered the last drops of the blood of Christ. For a long time, he kept that treasure. It was later given to the apostle Saint Paul when he came to the west, and by chance on his journey, he deposited the treasure in that chapel.

Pla Cargol, Joaquín; Traditions, sanctuaries and typism of Gironan region. Dalmau Carles, Pla.

 

El Sant Grial 1

A version of the previous legend tells that the chalice where the blood of Christ gathered by Joseph of Arimathea was kept in Rome. Threatened by a barbarian attack, the pope Boniface IV decided to take it out of Rome. It set sail and was custodied by knights that disembarked at the base of the Verdera mountain. In this mountain they built a small church, previous to the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. Tradition also tells that to defend the chalice and other relics that they broiught from Rome, they built a castle at the peak of the mountain too.

 
Pla Cargol, Joaquín; Traditions, sanctuaries and typism of Gironan region. Dalmau Carles, Pla.

 

The meeting of the water women at the Monks’ fountain

The water women are original fantastic creatures of the Catalan mythology. They are the Catalan fairies. These creatures, neither good nor bad, live in forests, mountains and isolated places where there are waterways or water pools. They have an infinite beauty, very long hair, have their own powers and a lot of legends in many places of the country. It is well-known that the night of Saint John, at midnight, all the water women leave to meet their queen, the water woman Star. Together, they dance ancient dances and in this dance, they transmit their powers and healing properties to the plants. This yearly meeting according to tradition is held at the Monks’ fountain. It’s located in Sant Pere de Rodes, Sant Salvador and even in Cap de Creus.

Pla Cargol, Joaquín; Traditions, sanctuaries and typism of Gironan region. Dalmau Carles, Pla.

 

The water women of Caltré

As we said, there are a lot of legends in this country about the wáter women, with different characteristics, one is washing white clothes. The oral tradition tells that at the Caltré Mountain, near white stones, easy to see, live water women. They come down to wash their clothes at the creek of la Vall, to wash white clothes.

 
Oral tradition.

 

The tunnels of Sant Pere de Rodes

There is a widespread belief in the towns around the Verdera Mountain, that the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes communicated through tunnels to different places. This way the monks, if there was a siege or they needed to, they could leave and return to the Monastery. It is said that there was tunnels that linked the Monastery to the megalithic monument of la Taula dels Lladres, to the Castle of Sant Salvador, to the town of la Vall de Santa Creu and even to the castle of Quermançó.

Oral tradition.

 

The obligation to go to mass at the Monastery

It is said that the monks of the monastery, feudal lords of the nearby towns, forced all villagers to go to mass at the monastery under grave threats, even threats of being walled up.

Oral tradition.

 

The Golden Goat

The Golden Goat is a legend attributed to many places. The hope of the people nearby to have a treasure at their grasp makes it a popular legend of the Catalan folklore. It is said that at the splendour of the Monastery, when it owned territories, wealth and many monks where sons of very rich houses, they owned so many riches that in the ruins of the Monastery, in one of their tunnels, there is still hidden a Goat made completely of pure gold. This belief is so widespread that when the treasure in the abbot’s palace of gold and silver coins was found on the archaeological excavations in 1989, everybody thought that treasure was the famous legend of the golden goat in the monastery, in the sense that the treasure found was of great riches.

Oral tradition.