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Santa Creus Royal Monastery
Santes Creus Royal Monastery
A tourist and holiday guide to the best cities and places to visit in Tarragona, Spain
Santes Creus Royal Monastery Aiguamúrcia

Amongst many interesting and beautiful features in Santes Creus Royal Monastery
 but don't miss the unusual washhouse which is a small shelter in the garden area with a large circular basin around a stone with a fountain and small water jets, completely covered with lichen and moss. There are squares of Laurustinus and Japanese pittosporum hedges with small interior beds of a few roses. Eighteen beautiful orange trees around this area. The beauty of the main cloister overshadows the peaceful tranquillity of the back cloister, which has been found to be difficult to date. It is much more simple, with low arches and no decorated capitals as can be found in the main cloister. Mention should be made of the simple sense of spirituality provided by a small fountain around which eight large cypress trees stand.


Santa Creus Monastery, Tarragona, Spain

This is one of the largest and best-preserved Cistercian monasteries that can be visited in the present day. Founded in 1168, protected by kings and nobles, it became a centre for spirituality, learning and the repopulation of the surrounding lands. Monastic life continued there uninterruptedly until the suppression of the monasteries in 1835.

The sober and imposing church contains the tombs of king Pere el Gran and of Jaume II and his wife Blanca d'Anjou, as well as the great admiral Roger de Llúria. You can also admire Cistercian and Gothic stained glass and a Baroque retable by Josep de Tremulles.

Also particularly interesting are the chapter house, the scriptorium, the monk's large dormitory and the Gothic cloister with its elegant carved decoration (14th century) attributed to the English mason Reinart des Fonoll.

The montage and audiovisual 'The Cistercian World', considered one of the best of its kind in Europe, provides a full and fascinating insight into the order and its legacy.


The Royal Monastery of "Santa Maria de Santes Creus".
The monks established themselves there in the year 1168 and in 1174 they started work on the church, the chapter house, the pavilion, the dormitories and the lay-out of the Cistercian cloister. In the XII century the library counted more than 40 manuscripts and 22 more were written before the year 1213.

Due to economic problems the work was stopped until in the year 1276. Peter II, the Great, initiated the actual royal palace. From 1280 onwards the "Scriptorium" received a great development from a well known historical and epic school. They produced the Latin-written book of "Llibre dels Feits" (The history of the Apostles) a work of Pere Marsili. The abbot named Peter Alegre had the pantheon constructed for King Jaume II and Blanca of Naples. In 1313 he started the works of the major cloister and the refectory and in 1314 he started the construction of the dome. The cloister which was continued and finished by Reinard Fonoll between 1332 and 1326 introduced the late English gothic style.

During Ferrera's Abbacy the royal palace was enlarged but Peter III, "the Ceremonious" preferred to have the royal patronage established in Poblet which prevented the fortifications already constructed (1376-1378) from receiving the subsequent expansion on the monumental part. Abbot Porta gave orders to have the main altarpiece constructed in gothic style which was realized by Lluís Borrassà in the year 1410. Towards the year 1520 Abbot Tolrà had some abbot's rooms constructed in the royal palace done in the Renaissance style; his successor Abbot Valls imposed classic studies and the Greek School of Santes Creus which lasted 200 years had some hundred Greek works built.

During their period the library possessed some 262 manuscripts and 150 incunables. The construction of the tower ordered by Abbot Contijoc showed the summit of the Renaissance style; in the year 1640 a new palace for the Abbots was constructed on top of the old hospital for the poor. The main altar of the church was substituted by sculptor Josep Tremulles in the year 1646. In 1733 the infirmary was constructed and the refectory was extended and lost its gothic elements. In 1820 the convent was eliminated and the properties were sold at auction. In 1823 the community was reintegrated and the Monastery was finally abandoned in 1835 due to the incidents of Reus and Barcelona in July in that same year.

In the year 1921 the Monastery was declared a National Heritage and this first patronage initiated in 1931 the total restoration of the Monastery continued intensively by the Commissionary of the Generalitat (Catalan Government) during the years 1936-1938. From 1947 onwards the Santes Creus Bibliographic files started taking care of the research, of the publications and the promotion of the monument. The Patronage starts its conservation and reparations in 1951 under the surveyance of the Catalan Government "La Generalitat de Catalunya" that has become meanwhile its owner. In 1974 the Museum was opened and several cultural and artistic events started to take place. Nowadays to visit the Monastery is a real must. Its architecture forms an important part of the "Cistercian Route" together with the Poblet Monastery and that of Vallbona de les Monges.


 Nowadays the Celma region with the other properties enjoy the protection of the Historical Art Heritage. It is a region that extends a lot further than the old village of Celma. It covers the "Alt Camp" which is a centre settled at an altitude of 743m. more to the eastern part below the mountain of Celma (801m high) and presided by the ruins of the Celma Castle. This castle is already mentioned in the year 977 and close to this castle a church was built named San Cristòfol. In the year 1142 the castle was given to the Order of the Templars and in 1171 the Bishop of Barcelona granted them the title of Parish church with the creation of the Commander of "Sant Cristòfol of Celma" . When in 1312 the Order of the Templars extinguished the property passed into the hands of the "hospitalers" (infirmaries) Gran Priorat in Catalunya and these continued with the name of Commanders until the end of the XVIII century. Since the XV century they were the same Commanders as the villages Vallmoll and Puigpelat.

Nowadays only the gothic Church of Sant Cristòfol exists.
Celma (or Selma according to the actual place-name) is nowadays nothing more than a historic-archeological reminiscence materialized in the ruins of a church and a castle beautified in a standstill of "l'Alt Camp" that is situated next to Baix Penedès. But during centuries they were the head of a Commander; first Templars and afterwards infirmaries that governed a local area but that area was quite extensive and covered villages like Vallmoll and Puigpelat.

The Celma site was historically able to establish her proper name during the years of the "Reconquista" (recapture) and colonization in the X - XII centuries thanks to the Santmarti family who constructed the primitive castle and church on top of the mountain which offered then the defensive borderline extending itself from Queralt to Montagut, Montmell, Pinyana, Albà...until the border of the Penedès area. The difficulty of the Restoration of that border territory made the Castle owners transfer the land and its surroundings to the Order of the Templars (1142) who were then just starting to introduce themselves in the Catalan province. The Tarragona and Tortosa inclusion into Christianity in the middle of the XII century facilitated the repopulation of that sector in the interior of that mountain area by means of the constitution of a power centre. And in this way the feudal structure was organized with the appointment of feudal lords who took care of public order and the defence of the territory and were in charge of the lands attributed to them. And at the same time the corresponding foundation of the Barcelona Parish Church was being operated (1171) under the protection of the Templars by concession of their prelate.

In the course of the XIII century the behaviour of the feudal lords gave way to the common jurisdiction for free civilians and ended in a full feudal state system. Subsequent royal concessions in the exercise of justice led to the structure of a real Celma Feudal jurisdiction.

The disappearance of the Templars' Order at the beginning of the XIV Century involved the transfer of their dominions - in our case the Celma dominions - into the hands of the Hospital Order (people that take care of the sick). The economic and demographic crisis (black death, years of sterility), feudal violence, internal war incidences during the XV century, and later on in the modern age, banditry affected profoundly the stability of the Celma Feudalism although it also experienced however real recoveries such as the concentration of lands (XVI century) in only a few hands thus allowing a better exploitation of the agriculture on the different existing Manors. Agricultural loans were reduced and substituted for established cash money.

The Bourbon Reform and the subsequent governmental interventionism meant a real hard blow for the Celma Feudal system and their privileges came under question and the tax payments were increased and its pressure was noticeable (XVIII century).

Afterwards, at the beginning of the XVIII century, the political and military disturbances and the instauration of the Constitutional System reverberated radically Celma's Feudal system in both feudal and ecclesiastic dimension.

If in 1831 the Order was incorporated to the Crown, the 1851 Concordat meant the final extinction of the Order.
The Celma castle presides over the ruins of the small village of the same name abandoned totally in the thirties of the XX century. This was not the only village settlement in the extensive castle territory but it was one of the most essential ones within the internal partition. The numerous existing properties specially from the XII century onwards show a rich historical defence border line that helped consolidate the new Catalan country. Some of these properties still exist nowadays.

Information taken from the
Quaderns de Vilaniu/Miscel·lània l’Alt Camp núm. 9 (1986) p. 82-84 y FIGUERAS I FONTANALS, Ll. M. El senyoriu de Celma. L’esquema funcional. Valls: Institut d’Estudis Vallencs, 1999.


Plaça Jaume el Just, s/n.
43815 Santes Creus. Aiguamúrcia (Alt Camp)
Tel. 977 63 83 29

Opening times
Tuesday to Sunday, including public holidays.

From 16 March to 15 September: from10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
From 16 September to 15 January: from10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.
From 16 January to 15 March: from10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Monday unless a public holiday, 25 December and 1 January.
The ticket office and entrance close 20 minutes before closing time.


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Tourist offices in Spain
Oficina Comarcal de Turismo de Santes Creus
Plaza Sant Bernat s/n
Santes Creus, Aiguamúrcia (Tarragona)
Contact details
Tel.: +34 977638141

Oficina Municipal de Turismo de Valls
Calle Cort 61
Valls (Tarragona)
Contact details
Tel.: +34 977612530




Tourist Office:
Plaza Catalunya, 17 - 08002 Barcelona (Barcelona)
Tel. +34 932853834
Tourist Office:
Passeig de Gràcia, 107 - 08008 Barcelona (Barcelona)
Tel. +34 932388091

Tourist Office:
Calle Major, 39 -
43003 Tarragona
Tel. +34 977250795
Montblanc Town Hall

Santes Creus Royal Monastery
Plaza Jaume el Just s/n
43815 Santes Creus, Aiguamúrcia (Tarragona)
Tel.:+34 977638329

Useful information
From Tuesday to Sunday
Does not close at midday
From 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Closing days: Monday

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