9 January, 2019

The Unison Routes team has recently been re-exploring southern Catalonia, dreaming up some awesome new excursions in an area close enough to Barcelona but far enough off the beaten track that you feel completely isolated!

Not far from Tarragona, almost 900 years ago, Cistercian monastic communities settled on land they had recently conquered from the Moors.

The area is known today as the Cistercian Triangle because of its three sister monasteries: Poblet, Santes Creus and Vallbona.

We chose to start with the first of them, the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

In order to fully experience the tranquil atmosphere of this historical monastic complex surrounded by gorgeous vineyards, we chose to stay at the Monastery’s Guesthouse for one night.

Just before dusk, when the monks were about to start singing vespers, we walked across the cloister.

In such an evocative atmosphere, we could not help remembering the warlike kings of Aragon who in the olden days visited, fortified, and protected this place.

As we entered the monastery’s awe-inspiring church we were deeply impressed by the severe and unadorned Cistercian architecture.

What we marveled at most, though, was the beautiful alabaster artwork of the Royal Pantheon at the crossing and of the Renaissance altarpiece by Damià Forment in the apse.

After feeding our souls with so much beauty, we suddenly remembered that we also had to feed our long-forgotten bodies!

We walked down to a restaurant near the monastery, and wrapped up our great day in Poblet with some traditional dishes paired with local Conca de Barberà red wine.