Usually there‘s first a place and it takes a few years until the church or the monastry is built ready – with San Juan de las Abadesas it behaves the opposite way.Even if the charming, medival place at the foot of the pyrenees seems quite traditional with its stone facades, stately manor houses and the splashing fountain in a green park – it was monumental monastery of the 12th century, which breathed life into it and lent it the name. What miracle is hiding behind those heavy wooden doors?
At first glance, San Juan de las Abadesas seems with it‘s simple elegance less oppressive than other monastic buildings.Narrow stone pillars grow high like skeletons, climbing plants are weaved around them, in the middle of the cloister is a small fountain located. The air tastes of past times and you wait for the nuns and abbots to appear.When you finally reach the interior of the monastry, inky darkness envelopes you.The cool stone walls are painted by the light of some flickering candles, which brighten the wistful faces of the statues, looking down on the visitors.
It is a place of reverence and seriousness, where the smell of incense and the shadows of the past hang heavily in the air. Indeed, the changes that formed San Juan de las Abadesas over the years, can be seen everywhere – the ivory-colored, ornamental altar, the walls, sometimes decorated with pictures of exotic animals, sometimes adorned by golden frescoes and the impressive Santissimi Misteri, a wood carving from 1251, which seems so real, that you wait for the figures to blink. You will come across traces of both French and Oriental art and architecture, which give San Juan de las Abadesas its various touch – not surprising with all its different owners.
In the year 880, the Count of Barcelona founded the monastry, which served for the following years as a residence for the daughters of the richerst families in the counrty – at the same time began the colonization of the pristine valley.Gradually, more and more houses were built around the mighty edifice and the place was named after the monastry. Around 1000 , the senior abbess was deposed and the monastery passed through countless hands, which all left their fingerprints.
That‘s exactly why the place is so interesting today – it feels as if you’ve just been wandering through several eras simultaneously. After your visit, you can either enjoy coffee and cake on the sunny front yard or continue your journey and throw a few glances into the museum, which seems like a treasure chest with it‘s golden rosaries, crystal crucifix and handcrafts.
How to get there:
Plaza de la Abadía Museo s/n
17860 Sant Joan de Les Abadesses
Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Girona (Katalonien)
daily 10.00 Uhr – 14. 00 Uhr und 16.00 – 18.00
Normal: 3 Euro
Reduced: 2 Euro
Groupticket: 2 Euro
Children free entrance.