History of the Monastery
Tucked away in the hills behind Tarragona, the Monastery of Poblet stands in a privileged natural setting, a prominent example of Cistercian architecture and art. It was founded in 1151 by Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, after the Reconquista or Reconquest from Islamic rule of what is effectively modern Catalonia. Berenguer subsequently endowed the property to the Cistercians, an order dedicated to observing the Rule of St Benedict through a simple life of manual labour, reading and prayer. Monks lived at Poblet until the closure of the monastery in 1835, brought about by a change in Spanish legislation. Thereafter, the buildings gradually fell into a state of disrepair and slipped into oblivion.
The tide turned in 1940 when Poblet was given a new lease of life with the arrival of a small group of Italian Cistercian monks—the long road to recovery had begun. In 1991 the monastery was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and today this magnificent architectural complex is spearheading an ecological conversion towards energy self-sufficiency that will soon be applied to the other Cistercian abbeys belonging to the Crown of Aragón—the monasteries of Santes Creus and Vallbona de les Monges.
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