Saturday 15 August 2009

Museum-Monastery of Pedralbes, Baizada del Monestir, Barcelona

A well-preserved and evocative fourteenth century Gothic complex tucked away in a residential suburb of Barcelona, Pedralbes Monastery is a peaceful sanctuary from the bustle of the city. The centrepiece is a graceful garden courtyard, arranged around a large circular pond, enclosed by two-stories of cloisters with surprisingly-slim pillars holding up elegant archways. In the courtyard is a striking Renaissance well with an intricately-carved stone arch. You can peer in on several of the small rooms that made up the nuns’ day cells and wander around the refectory, the kitchens, the infirmary and some museum-style galleries given over to exhibiting some of the monastery's more precious artifacts. One of the many subterranean rooms has a series of slightly unsettling illuminated models of scenes from the last supper and the crucifiction. Entrance to the monastery for adults is a reasonable six euros, while kids are free. Be sure to also look in on the dimly-lit and atmospheric fourteenth church, which is open between 11am and 1pm, slightly up the hill, with its fine stained glass and high vaulted roof. 7/10