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Sant Pere de Casserres
Sant Pere de Casserres

The Romanesque period in its most natural state

Get to know five buildings around Barcelona that were constructed between the 10th and 12th centuries – you'll be glad you did

By Xavier Amat
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At the top of a summit, next to a bend in the River Ter, or among meadows with spectacular panoramic views, you can find examples of Romanesque buildings with austere beauty and a long history. And you don't even have to leave the regions of Barcelona to discover them. Nature and heritage come together in these mini getaways, intertwined with a historical religious and cultural figure, the Bishop and Abbot Oliba.

IN COLLABORATION WITH BARCELONA ÉS MOLT MÉS AND THE DIPUTACIÓ DE BARCELONA.

Sant Pere de Casserres
Sant Pere de Casserres

Sant Pere de Casserres

Though this monastery is humble, it's full of evocative details, such as its small cloister, the parlour that over the years has turned into a cellar to store goods, and the anthropomorphic tombs which are proof that the building stands on what was once a necropolis. Sant Pere de Casserres is in a stunning setting, overlooking a bend in the River Ter. Antique furniture and furnishings decorating the kitchen, cellar, chapter room and other rooms in the monastery make it that much more attractive to visitors, as does the audiovisual presentation you can see at the beginning of the tour. The monastery is in the middle of the Camí Oliba, the Romanesque art route that goes through the regions of Bages, Osona and Ripollès following in the footsteps of the Bishop and Abbot Oliba. The building, which was backed by the Vizcountess Ermetruit in 1006, received the allodial title of Casserres from Count Ramon Borrell of Barcelona, ​​and small communities of monks lived there until the 14th century, as it was the only Benedictine monastery in the region of Osona. 

Sant Feliuet de Savassona
Sant Feliuet de Savassona

Sant Feliuet de Savassona

A pre-Romanesque structure with a Romanesque nave and door, this church is a magnificent example of a construction built prior to the influence of the Lombard masters. The record of it dates back to 1037, when it was known as Sant Feliu de la Roca. It stands tall atop a large rock so offers excellent views of the Plana de Vic plain and the mountain peaks all round. It's surrounded by anthropomorphic tombs, and there's also a water tank carved into the rock.

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Sant Martí del Brull
Sant Martí del Brull

Sant Martí del Brull

Now it's time to head to the Montseny Natural Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where you'll visit the Sant Martí del Brull church. The church, with its single nave and barrel vault, was consecrated in 1060 by Guillem de Balsareny, and has always been the local parish church. In addition to Sant Martí, parishioners also worshipped Sant Miquel and Sant Joan between these walls. The interior must have been spectacular in its day, with the apse decorated with frescoes from the Romanesque period, murals that were discovered in 1909 and moved years later to the Vic Episcopal Museum.

Castell de Montesquiu
Castell de Montesquiu

Around the Castell de Montesquiu

The Sant Moí hermitage, in the Osona region's municipality of Santa Maria de Besora, dates from the 10th century. Its walls are of a very rudimentary construction, and it features wooden rafters and Arabic tiles in its rectangular plan with just one nave and an apse in the east part. It's located very near an old farmhouse and the Montesquiu Castle, which was was built starting in 1285. The castle, which has been declared a cultural asset of national interest, has been turned into a museum inside: you're received by the ghosts of four people related to the history of the castle. While you're there, be sure to also enjoy the natural surroundings the form of forests of oak and red pine that make up the Parc del Castell de Montesquiu.

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Sant Pere Desplà
Sant Pere Desplà

Sant Pere Desplà

The route comes to an end in this old rural parish, where data have been recorded since 923. The apse has been preserved in perfect condition, in a pure Romanesque style with double-splayed windows, and is surrounded by the intense green of the plantlife outside. Here in the Arbúcies valley you get amazing panorama views of the Guilleries and Montseny mountain ranges. During the restoration of the church in the 1980s, pre-Romanesque paintings were found, which suggests that it's even older than was previously thought.

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