The ‘cradle’ of Catalonia. This is how the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll is known and no wonder. Founded by Comte Guifré el Pelós (Count Wilfred the Hairy) in the year 879, under the direction of the Abbot Oliba, it became a major religious and cultural centre, with a large and majestic Romanesque church and a scriptorium with great literary production, on a level with other abbeys in Europe during this period
The monastery’s 12th century portalada is the most outstanding feature of the complex. This doorway that welcomed the faithful and curious, is one of the great sculptures of European Romanesque. It is completely sculpted with scenes from the Old Testament and allegories. This is why it became known as "the Bible of stone". Its monumentality bears witness to Ripoll’s years of splendor. It is with good reason that for many years the monastery was also the pantheon of the counts of Besalú and Girona.
The building underwent several stages of enlargement and reconstruction due to the lack of space, fires, an earthquake and plunder.In 1886, the Bishop of Vic, Josep Morgades, commissioned the reconstruction of the monastery to the architect Elies Rogent. Ripoll recovered the church and the cloister of the 11th century monastery with a Romanesque Revival interpretation.
Today, you can visit Santa Maria de Ripoll and a Visitors’ Information Centre has been opened as well as a permanent exhibition focusing on the scriptorium, in which its importance is explained.
Take a guided tour of the monastery, addressed to the general public, and be sure not to miss the "portalada" (doorway) or the famous scriptorium.