The Royal Monastery of Pedralbes was founded in 1327 by Queen Elisenda of Montcada, with the support of her husband, King Jaume II. The building is one of the finest examples of Catalan Gothic: both the church and the three-storey cloister, are among the most spacious and harmonious examples of this style.
Some of the monastery’s greatest attractions are the objects and works of art on display, which illustrate monastic life within the complex throughout the years, and enable the visitor to understand what life was like inside the enclosed community up until 1983, when the monastery was converted into a museum.
Inside the monastery of Pedralbes, and around the cloister we can see a line of day cells, where the members of the order would retire in solitude in their free time. Especially striking is St Michael’s Chapel, decorated with a magnificent series of murals, commissioned by the Abbess Francesca ça Portella in 1343 to the painter, Ferrer Bassa, and clearly inspired by great artists such as, Giotto, Lorenzetti and Simone Martini. The visit also includes the chapter house, the abbey, refectory, kitchen, the storeroom, dormitory and infirmary.
The exhibition, “Treasures of the Monastery”, can be seen in the dormitory, comprising a selection of the finest pieces of art, furniture and religious objects, collected and restored by the order over seven centuries. The other permanent exhibitions at the Monastery are, “Plants, remedies and apothecaries”, in the cloister; a display of dioramas in the storeroom, and the exhibition entitled “Petras Alba”, in the former infirmary, which illustrates life in the community of the Saint Clare nuns and the history of the complex. Saint Michael’s Chapel is currently closed to the public while it undergoes restoration and maintenance work. It is due to reopen in May 2018.