Founded in the early 12th century, Santa Maria de Vallbona de les Monges is the most important female Cistercian Monastery in Catalonia. From the time of its construction, in 1153, it has always been inhabited by nuns and currently forms part of the Cistercian Route (along with Santes Creus and Poblet).
The complex is representative of Cistercian art, faithful to the Rule of Saint Benedict. As can be seen in Vallbona de les Monges, it bypasses ornamentation, achieving sober and functional spaces.
During the visit to the Church, it is worth looking up for a moment. On the main portal (13th century), one can find one of the first reliefs of Santa Mariato appear on a tympanum in Catalonia. Once inside, the church is characterised by simplicity and the wonderful play of light. To the right of the altar there is the simple and plain sarcophagus of Queen Yolande of Hungary, wife of Jaume I the Conqueror.
The simplicity and austerity continues in the cloister, where one can clearly see the stages of construction. The south nave, primitive Romanesque, does not have any kind of decoration. The eastern nave, 13th-century Romanesque, features small rosettes. The northern nave is Gothic and, finally, the western nave is a Renaissance building from the 16th century, but it follows the general style of the Romanesque galleries.
The monastery offers guided and group tours to find out about all the details of the monument and of the monastic life that was lived there. On their website, you can consult the calendar of visits for the public.