Monastery Sant Pere de Rodes (Cap de Creus, Costa Brava)

At the head of the Verdera Sierra rises one of the most interesting complexes for discovering the Mediaeval world. Here we find three elements that represent the pillars of feudal society: those who pray, in Sant Pere de Rodes Monastery; those who produce, in the village of Santa Creu; and those who fight, in Verdera Castle.

The centre of the complex is the Monastery of Sant Pere, which became the most important one in the country of Empúries both for the leading role of its abbots and because it was a major centre o pilgrimage thanks to the relics in its custody.

From the time it was founded it enjoyed the protection of the Counts of Empúries, who endowed it with lands and privileges, which made it an important feudal lord in its own right. Among its domains was Santa Creu de Rodes, a village engaged fundamentally in trade and craftsmanship, which met the needs of the monastery. Thanks to the pilgrimages, it thrived between the 12th and 14th centuries and had as many as 250 inhabitants. But wars, looting and the ravages of blighted harvests and epidemics eventually drove everyone away, never to return.

The safety of the complex depended on Sant Salvador de Verdera Castle, which symbolises the warrior aspects of feudal society. The fortress had been donated to the monastery by the Counts of Empúries, but when they realised its strategic value, dominating Cap de Creus, they tried to recover it by provoking constant confrontations with the abbots.

The outstanding element of the complex is the monastery church which, for its originality and antiquity, is an excepcional piece of Catalan Romanesque. Built between the 10th and 11th centuries to house the pilgrims, it enables us to grasp the splendour of the monastery. The building is notable for the great height provided by an original system of pillars and double columns, and for the richness of the ornamentation on the capitals and the almost vanished doorway, the work of the Mestre de Cabestany.

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