I was willing to visit this place since I saw a photograph featuring this landscape. Looking at what I thought to be a little church surrounded by water, I fell in love with the views.
However, It was not a little hermitage. Instead, what you can see at the top of the hill is Sant Pere de Casserres, a prominent Benedictine Monastery from the 11th century.
The monastery is a Romanesque-style building located in Les Masies de Roda, the only one in Osona, and also one of the most relevant Romanic architectural ensembles in Catalonia. Best of all, it is not far from Barcelona; easy to get there by car in an hour or so. It was a pleasant surprise to find out how close it is from my home.
That day, I arrived in time to see the sunrise from a nearby lookout. It was a cold morning, perfect to awake all my senses. If you ever visit the monastery, you should not lose the opportunity to enjoy these views; you can check its location on the map below:
The monastery did not open till 10 AM, so I decided to take some time there, sitting on a rock, enjoying the views, and I also spent some time reading about a legend regarding the foundation of the monastery.
A long time ago, a noblemen family from Osona had a three days newborn son that was able to speak. He told his parents that he was only going to live for thirty days. After that, they had to put his body on a chest, load it on a mule, and let the animal find his final resting place. There, they will have to build a temple dedicated to Saint Peter.
Shortly after reading this legend, I got into my car, and I started a half-hour trip to the monastery. It appears to be so close but unless that you consider swimming as an option, you need to go around a mountain range to get there.
After parking your car, you have to walk the last stretch to the tip of the narrow mountain range. But don’t worry, It is a short walk, and the views of the Sau Reservoir along the way are phenomenal.
When I got closer, I could appreciate the size of the monastery for the first time. You cannot compare it with other Catalan monasteries like El Monestir de Poblet, but it was bigger than I thought.
You have to pay a three euros ticket to visit the interior. But I believe that is a fair price to help to keep the building in good shape.
The first room I visited was to the winery that was also used by the monks as a pantry. They used to store all their food along with the wine. The barrels that you can see on the photograph and all the other furniture in the monastery are replicas, but it helps a lot to make sense of how life was back in the day.
It was curious to see two different kinds of columns on the cloisters. An earthquake during the XV century destroyed part of the sanctuary; the rectangular columns on the right are visible proof of it. Besides that, this is the oldest porched cloister in Catalonia.
My next stop was into the kitchen and the refectory, where the monks got their meals in silence while listening to bible lectures.
After that, I visited the dormitory, where all the monks but the prior sleep on a single bedroom. They didn’t have much privacy on those days!
However, the Prior had his private chamber on the second floor, on top of the winery. It was the perfect place to manage all the mundane monastery affairs discreetly. However, in my opinion, the best trait of the chamber is its terrace, with terrific views over the river.
From that terrace, you can also see the backyard; with the nearby church entrance, and the hospital at the end.
The church is one of the most relevant Romanic churches in Catalonia due to its width. There is no much space on the narrow tip of the mountain. Therefore, the builders chose to go for an unusual broader church.
The rule of Saint Benedict dictates that every monastery has to have a space to accommodate pilgrims, homeless, and other sick people. With that purpose in mind, they build the two-story hospital building behind the church. Nowadays, if you get inside it, you can enjoy an excellent audiovisual documentary about Sant Pere’s Monastery history projected on one of its walls.
If you have the opportunity to visit Catalonia, this is one landmark worth visiting. You can find more info about the monastery at the official website: http://www.santperedecasserres.cat/