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Romanesque route in the Boí valley

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  • Exterior of the church of Santa María de la Natividad ©Turespaña

    Exterior of the church of Santa María de la Natividad ©Turespaña

  • Bell tower of the Sant Joan Church ©Turespaña

    Bell tower of the Sant Joan Church ©Turespaña

  • Church of Santa María de L’Assumpció in Coll © Turespaña

    Church of Santa María de L’Assumpció in Coll © Turespaña

  • Santa María de Cardet Church © Turespaña

    Santa María de Cardet Church © Turespaña


Art and architecture in the mountains

The Boí valley (known as the Vall de Boí in Catalan) lies deep in the Pyrenean mountains in the region of Lleida. Its small mountain villages are home to a series of Romanesque churches dating from the 11th and 12th centuries which are well conserved and blend in harmoniously with their surroundings. They were awarded the World Heritage designation in 2000 by the UNESCO.

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This route starts out in the village of El Pont de Suert, the capital of the region of Alta Ribagorça, and gateway to the Boí valley. It still conserves its historic mediaeval centre, with buildings such as the Abacial palace and the old church of Santa María.

This route can be done within a single day, and will take us to the nine main churches in the valley. The richness of the decorative elements and the excellent state of conservation of these buildings make this the perfect opportunity to discover some of the finest examples of Catalan Romanesque art.
We leave El Pont de Suert along the N-230 road towards the valley of Arán. Five kilometres further on, a local road takes us to the village of Cóll. This is the site of the first of the Boí valley's Romanesque churches, the 12th-century church of La Assumpció.

We then return to the main road and continue heading north to the village of Cardet, where we find the church of Santa María, which was reformed in the Gothic period and with a Baroque belfry. Our third stop is only two kilometres away in Barruera, the most important village in the Boí valley district, and the site of the church of Sant Feliu.

From Barruera, we take the road leading to Durro. This is the location of the church of La Nativitat, with its monumental bell tower, two 16th-century Gothic chapels and Baroque sacristy. At a distance of a kilometre and a half, a path leads to the shrine of Sant Quirc de Durro, a smaller church with a Baroque vault and belfry dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Back on the main road we come to the highest part of the valley, where the finest examples of this Romanesque ensemble await us. Erill la Vall is home to the church of Santa Eulàlia and to the Boí Valley Romanesque Centre. The church has an interesting bell tower, six storeys high, and inside there is a reproduction of a sculpture group depicting the Descent from the Cross (pieces of the original can be seen in museums in Barcelona and Vic).

Only one kilometre away we reach the crossroads which takes us to the Caldes de Boí spa and the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. We continue our route towards the access road to the winter resort of Boí-Taüll, which leads to the village of Boí. There we can visit the small church of Sant Joan. It has a basilical floor plan and three naves, and contains the copies of the original mural paintings which were moved to the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) in Barcelona between 1919 and 1923.

About three kilometres further on we come to the end of our route: the village of Taüll. This is the site of the two best-known buildings in the whole valley: the churches of Santa María and Sant Climent. Both share the same architectural design: a basilical floor plan with three naves and three apses, a gabled wooden roof and a tower-bell tower several storeys high.

Another of their common features is the series of Romanesque mural paintings they contain. The paintings on display in the churches today are reproductions of the originals, which are conserved in the MNAC in Barcelona. Of particular note in the church of Santa María is the scene of the Epiphany in the central apse, and the church of Sant Climent is the home of the famous Christ Pantocrator, the symbol of the Catalan Romanesque.



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