Poblet Monastery is one of the largest and most complete Cistercian abbeys in the world. It dates from the 12th century.
It also is a massive military complex, and has served as a royal palace, residence and pantheon.
Visit August 2006
We rented a car to go to Poblet from Barcelona, it took us about 1.5 hour to get there. The monastery's sharp, edgy towers make a pretty sight from a distance. We were there early (at 10 a.m., when it opens to the public), not many other cars on the huge car park next door.
The entrance fee of 5 EUR includes a guided tour. They are only given in Spanish, Catalan and French - but we were provided with a booklet in Dutch and could tag along with a Spanish group. The friendly guide made sure that we got the main message of each part of the tour.
The tour was a bit too hurried to our taste: we would have liked to stay in the various rooms a bit longer.
Hubert Scharnagl - October 2014
The Poblet Monastery is picturesquely located on a small hill between olive groves, you can see the panorama of its towers from afar. We came from Tarragona by car and when we drove down the street along the outer wall of the monastery we got a first impression of the size of the complex. With its towers, battlements and huge gates it looks more like a medieval fortress than a monastery.
We arrived at a quarter past 11 a.m., a little too late for the regular guided tour, but we met a group from Switzerland and they invited us to join their guided tour. That wasn't bad, because the tour was in English, regular tours are in Spanish, Catalan, or French. First we went through two large gates and crossed two almost empty courtyards, then we had to wait for our guide in front of the Puerta Real, the inner gate flanked by two massive towers. The tour was excellent, the guide gave detailed information and we had plenty of time to visit all rooms, we spent almost two hours in the monastery. Although it is still an active monastery, large parts of the complex are open for visitors. We went through many corridors und stairs and even on the gallery on top of the cloister.
Poblet is a perfect example of Cistercian architecture and its aesthetic principles. No pomp or lavish decoration, but simple and functional architecture, large and high rooms with harmonious proportions. Wonderful examples are the refectory or even better the large dormitory with elegant supporting arches and the impressive length of 85 meters.
The Gothic cloister has a ribbed vault and a lavatorium, it reminded me of the Cistercian monastery in Maulbronn. Obviously these are also characteristic elements. The capitals of the slender columns are decorated with floral motifs and abstract ornament. There are no mythical figures, saints or scenes from the Bible as it is characteristic of Benedictine monasteries. And there are also typical Cistercian elements in the church or rather the lack of elements is typical: no crypt and no apse, but straight walls in the chancel.
But the highlights of the visit were the royal tombs in the transept and especially the magnificent Renaissance altarpiece made of white alabaster. The altarpiece is a huge stone block with plenty of niches and sculptures and finely carved ornaments, a real masterpiece (photo shows a part).
Poblet is one of the largest and most interesting monasteries I've visited so far. We finished our visit with a walk through the surrounding olive groves and we enjoyed the nice views of the monastery.
Clyde - May 2014
I visited this WHS in May 2014. Since I was arriving late from Andorra I decided to sleep at Hostatgeria de Poblet which is actually inside the Poblet Monastery Walls and it's great value for money especially considering that you get a 3 euro discount to visit the monastery too. Although the monastery opens at 10am, I still woke up early in time to listen to the monks' vespers at 07:30. After that I hiked the Espluga de Francoli loop trail around the monastery walls which took me around an hour during which I passed through olive groves, vineyards and orchards. The views of the monastery from here are wonderful in the early morning light (photo) while the best time to take pictures of the Monastery entrance is in the afternoon. Prices have gone up and it now costs 10euros for a guided tour in Spanish or 7.50euros to visit without a guide, although you will still have to wait for the guide to open the door at 10.30am (very Spanish!) and follow the guide's instructions to how much time you're allowed in each floor before she closes the door. Overall, I had more than enough time to visit the monastery (around 2 hours) and follow the brochure in English however it's a bit of a pain that you can't exit before you reach the end of the tour and that you can't spend more time inside if you so wanted. The highlight of my visit was the walking trail around the monastery together with the chance to view the royal tombs of Aragon. This is definitely the largest and most complete monastery I have visited and the fact that it's still an active monastery is definitely a plus point.
John Booth - November 2010
This monastery was well worth a visit. I discovered that certain buses operating between Tarragona and Lleida detour via the entrance to the monastery, and that it was possible to make an afternoon visit from Tarragona that way.
Klaus Freisinger - November 2005
The Cistercian monastery of Poblet is one of the more interesting and impressive buildings I have been to. The fact that it houses the tombs of a long line of kings and queens of Aragon in a great pantheon makes it especially noteworthy. Anybody coming to Catalonia should try to visit Poblet, located in the hills northwest of Tarragona, since you will hardly ever come across a better monastery anywhere. Having said that, however, you should either have a private car or join a bus tour, since reaching Poblet by public transport is very inconvenient, to say the least. I didn't really mind the 4-km walk from the nearest train station, since the weather was great even in late October, but I don't think many people would do the same (and there were hardly any signs).
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Full name: Poblet Monastery
1991 - InscribedReasons for inscription
1989 - DeferredBoundaries to be defined
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Religion and Belief
- Built in the 12th century Criterion I: Poblet is a unique artistic achievement and one of the most perfect expressions of Cistercian style in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. (AB ev)