Having survived the passing of time, the 19th century confiscation, the iconoclastic fury of the first months of the Spanish Civil War… there is a place in Central Catalonia that has preserved an important Baroque legacy: the Baroque Territory. It is formed by several small municipalities, approximately spread out in the triangle constituted by the Miracle Sanctuary, Cervera and Manresa. Set between four regions, two provinces, two bishoprics and beyond administrative divisions, the Baroque Territory is the conjunction of a unique landscape, people and artistic, historic, cultural and gastronomic heritage.
The spaces where the Espurnes Barroques festival has worked and continues work in are:
The current municipal Auditorium of Cervera was built in the ancient church and school of the Jesuits in the capital of Segarra. The Baroque church of Sant Ignasi de Cervera, located in Major street, was constructed between 1690 and 1727, when the Society of Jesus school settled there. Previously, however, the same space had hosted a meeting of the Catalan Courts, headed by king Peter IV the Ceremonious (1359) and it was the place where the Catholic Monarchs signed their marriage contract (1452). The voussoired portal, that can still be contemplated today, belongs to the medieval building. In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled and it became the Real Colegio de San Carlos (Royal College of Saint Charles), destined to house university students.
It is a Baroque temple with a single nave and lateral chapels, covered by three sections of barrel vaults with lunettes, while the chancel is covered by a big pendentive. Singularly, it has its entry point at the chevet, so that it can be accessed from Major street.
One of the most noted spaces of the old church is the chapel of the Immaculada (the Immaculate) or la Mare de Déu de l’Incendi (Our Lady of the Fire), a big quadrangular space, centred by a dome translated outside as an octagonal lantern tower, with eight picture windows separated by pilasters. The skilful work of the stucco that decorates it, of a measured Rococo, makes it one of the most interesting and unknown Baroque spaces of the city.
If Ignatius of Loyola saw something that impacted him, from the foot of the Cardener in 1522, when he arrived in Manresa, it was, surely, the imposing image of Santa Maria. Known popularly as La Seu (The See), it is considered one of the main buildings of the Catalan Gothic.
Its elevated site housed successively an Iberian village, a Roman fortress and a Romanesque temple. The construction of the current building began in 1322, under the direction of the same architect as Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona, Berenguer de Montagut, and was completed towards the end of the 15th century, with Gothic as the dominant style. However, subsequent interventions have added elements from the Renaissance, the Baroque or even from the Gothic Revival, such as the façade of the baptistery.
The most noted elements of La Seu are the impressive rose window of the western façade, the bell and the crypt with a great marble tabernacle and eight Baroque medallions.
Inside, what draws one’s attention is the pictorial collection, where the altarpiece of the Holy Spirit by Pere Serra, one of the most valuable of 14th century Catalan painting, stands out.
At the northeastern end of the municipality of Sant Mateu de Bages, there is the village of Valls de Torroella, born thanks to the initiative of the industrialist and politician Isidre Valls (1858-1933), who, due to disagreements with his uncle, founded the colony in 1901, a few meters from the original family colony of Palà de Torroella.
The colony (which reached its highest splendour in the 70s, with 600 workers) follows the model of the ones populating the neighbouring river Llobregat, where the Valls family had already owned the Vilafruns factory.
Aside from the emblematic Casino and Theatre, an artisanal bakery and other services, industrial activity continues in the buildings of the colony. A peculiar initiative is that of the La Guineu brewery, which occupies part of the Ca l’Arenys building.
The town of Cardona, located in Bages, is characterised by its long and important role in history. After its medieval splendour, it lived through the difficulties of the Modern Era with its prominent role during the War of the Spanish Succession. The Baroque was also present with chapels and some altarpieces or pulpit falls such as that of Sant Ramon Nonat.
It is important to highlight the main altar of Sant Miquel’s church, which disappeared during the Spanish Civil War, in 1936, made by Andreu Sala de Linya, born near the village. It is in this town where, years later, Cafès Gener was founded.
Cafès Gener is a company created towards 1950, when the owner of Café Colón in Cardona showed the secrets of toasting coffee to Josep Gener, “el Bonany”, born in the farmlands close to the town.
Josep Gener, seeing the opportunities of coffee in the market, began to explore this world and soon after he made a name for himself in the region. This is how a family company was created in which, nowadays, works the third generation.
The company was located close to the city walls of Cardona and, in the year 2000, an important qualitative and quantitative jump took place by expanding the facilities and moving to a new plant in the industrial area, renewing and modernising, at the same time, the entire process of storing, toasting and packaging the coffee.
The chapel of the Puríssima Concepció (chapel of the Immaculate Conception) is a building of medieval origin built next to a portal in the fortified village of Pujalt, in Anoia. In the Modern Era, a bell-gable was added.
It consists of a single nave of rectangular plant covered with a ribbed stone vault. The chancel is dominated by a notable Baroque altarpiece, dedicated to the Mother of God and it was built in 1638 and gilded in 1686. Paintings, low relieves and full-length sculptures illustrate and talk about the life of the Virgin. This masterpiece was commissioned by the parishioners and made in Manresa. It is one of the few altars that during the Spanish Civil War was saved from destruction and that has reached the present day with all its original strength.
THE CHAPEL OF LA MARE DE DÉU DEL CLAUSTRE (OUR LADY OF THE CLOYSTER)-CATHEDRAL OF SOLSONA
Located in the Cathedral of Solsona, the chapel of the Mare de Déu del Claustre (1727-1776), destined to house the prized Romanesque carving, suffered several destructions. Its complex construction, which planned to build an altarpiece and decorate the architectural space with mural paintings, was commissioned to Jacint and Carles Morató— who worked in collaboration with the sculptor Josep Sunyer i Raurell. It disappeared with the accumulation of the heavy damages of 1810, 1822 and 1936, but through some old descriptions, one intuits that it must have been one of the most impressive spaces of Catalan Baroque.
CASTLE AND COLLEGIATE CHURCH OF SANT VICENÇ
From the 9th century, the castle and collegiate church of Sant Vicenç (Saint Vincent) dominated the territory and controlled the salt mines. Military strategy and religious cult joined on top of the hill. The castle was raised in 886 under the orders of Wilfred the Hairy, count of Barcelona. The keep is all that remains from this period, known as Torre de la Minyona (Tower of the Maid). During the first half of the 11th century, the church of Sant Vicenç was built, one of the best displays of the Catalan Lombard Romanesque.
Between the 11th and 15th centuries the castle was the residence of the rich lords of the salt, a great example of medieval military fortification which, with time, lost its residential function and gained strategic importance. From the 17th century onwards, the fortress updated its defence system with a crown of bastions. It was during the War of Spanish Succession that it became a symbol of the resistance of the followers of archduke Charles in front of the defenders of Philip of Anjou: the castle was the last fortress to yield to the Bourbon troops and it fell after the surrender of Barcelona, on the 18th of September 1714.
ALTARPIECE AND PULPIT FALL OF THE CHAPEL OF SANT RAMON NONAT
In 1681, after a plague epidemic in Catalonia, the duchess Catherine of Cardona ordered the founding of the Chapel of Sant Ramon Nonat (Saint Raymond Nonnatus), which was to be erected at the place where, according to tradition, the saint had died in 1240, with an altar, an altarpiece and a silver oil lamp. The Baroque altarpiece, of polychromatic and gilded wood, was made by the sculptor from Manresa Pau Sunyer and it was gilded by local silversmith Magí Torrabruna.
The ensemble of relieves, eight scenes, represent different moments of the life of the saint and the pulpit fall contains the coat of arms of the Cardona. Both have been recently restored at the Centre de Restauració de Béns Mobles de Catalunya (Centre for the Restoration of Artefacts of Catalonia).
The cloister of the Cathedral of Solsona, which was Romanesque, of Toulousan influence, was completely altered in the 18th century: the ground level was lowered, the access gate (a beautiful model from the Lleida school, with geometric decoration, that was rediscovered in 1949-51) was mortared and the arches and pillars of the lower gallery were substituted by Neoclassic ones. Even so, it still preserves the Romanesque vault and the upper gallery, of late Gothic style.
The Sant Agustí convent (Saint Augustine) of Igualada was founded by Augustinian friars in 1393, where there was a chapel. It was a convent until 1835 and, twenty years later, the Piarists moved there, where they still have the current Pious School of Igualada. The adjacent church, with the title of sanctuary, is consecrated to the Mare de Déu de la Pietat (Our Lady of Piety), co-patron saint of the city, and it was built around 1780.
The key architectural piece of the ensemble is the Renaissance cloister, of Italianising influence, of trapezoidal plant and two floors. It was built between 1612 and 1670. At the centre of each of the wings there is a crest surrounded by a date, which would correspond to the year of construction.
It is considered one of the main monuments of the capital of Anoia.
Sant Guim de la Rabassa is a town of the municipality of Sant Guim de Freixenet, in Segarra. The manor of the town, thanks to a testamentary inheritance from 1641, came to belong to the Jesuits, who established themselves there and renovated the structure of the town, transformed the ancient building into a convent of their order and built a Baroque church over the medieval construction, consecrated to Saint Andrew and Saint William.
The current convent building is from the 18th century. It is rectangular and forms a unit with the chapel dedicated to Saint Andrew and Saint William, located to one of the ends, attached to the remains of the old manor. Next to the lateral wall of the church, at the other side of the path, there are the arches that used to belong to the ancient stables.
After the expulsion of the Jesuits, the building was seized and used as a school and living quarters. This meant that some remodelling had to be carried out. Nowadays, the building in disuse, but in a good state of conservation.
Constructed in a few years, between 1587 and 1612, the current church of Esparreguera substitutes the previous parochial temple, which had become too small. It was quite damaged by the french occupation, when the Napoleonic troops used it as headquarters. But what caused it irrecuperable damages was the Spanish Civil War, when a squad from out of the village was responsible for the destruction, among others, of the fabulous main altarpiece by Jaume Comes and Nicolau Travé from 1777, of the altarpiece of Sant Miquel (Saint Michael), by Pau Boxadell and Antoni Rovira, of the organ made in 1625 by Francesc Bordons, as well as the furniture and the parochial archive.
Even though it was blessed in 1612 by the Father Abbot of Montserrat, the bell-tower was not finished until 1636. Started with a square plant, which becomes octagonal in the higher parts, its height of 60 metres is a real lookout over Baix Llobregat.
The church has its origin during the Romanesque period- Throughout thee 14th century the building was remade, raising a new Gothic construction, consecrated in 1397. The new space, unlike that of Sant Vicenç in the castle of Cardona, would be the church of the merchants. Later, in the 16th century, a crypt was added, where the relics of the saints Celedonius and Emeterius are venerated.
Inside the temple, a Gothic alabaster sculpture is preserved, the Mare de Déu del Patrocini (Our Lady of Patronage), as are important models of Catalan altarpieces from 15th century.
During the Civil War (1936-1939), the church suffered great damages. The main altarpiece of Sant Miquel, a magnificent Baroque piece, was destroyed. It was made by Andreu Sala, of Linya, who built it around 1707. The organ, by Pedro Fernández, also disappeared.
The Church of Poble Vell, built next to the castle, is cited in a 1154 document as a parish of Sòrisa. It is a religious building of rectangular plant, with a bell tower and apse. The ensemble formed by the Castle and the Church is one of the most characteristic images of Súria.
Initially, the Church had a single nave and it was of Romanesque style. The other elements of the church have come from enlargements and more modern alterations. The most noted one was in 1862, when the two lateral naves were added.
The temple used to have an important Baroque altarpiece, dedicated to Saint Cristopher, which was destroyed in 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish. Civil War.
Inside the apse, a mural painting from the 15th century, representing a bell ringer, has also been recovered.
The church of the Sagrat Cor (Sacred Heart), located at Casp street, in Barcelona, inside the school complex of the Jesuits, is the work of architects Joan Martorell Montells and Camil Oliveras Gensana. It was built between 1883 and 1889. Its artistic style, which can be described as pre-modernist, is monumentalist, historicist and has a strong Romanesque and Byzantine influence.
Inside the church there is the sword attributed to be the one that Ignatius of Loyola left in 1522 as a votive offering to Montserrat just before establishing himself in Manresa, where he wrote Spiritual Exercises. The church reached the church of the Sagrat Cor de Jesús in 1907 and it was placed in the Saint Ignatius alter in an urn of golden bronze made by Bernadí Martorell Puig, winner of the design competition headed by Antoni Gaudí.
PAROCHIAL CHURCH OF SANT LLORENÇ DE MORUNYS
Located at the centre of the village, this church was declared historical and artistic monument in 1976. It dates back to the 11th century and it is a basilica-based temple with three naves separated by cross-shaped pillars, made of stone. The central nave is covered with a barrel vault and the lateral ones, with groin vaults. It is 25 metres-long, 15 metres wide and 15 metres high. The central apse preserves, at the inferior part, the remains of mural paintings from the end of the 13th century and beginning of the 14th.
ALTAR OF ELS COLLS
The chapel of the Mare de Déu dels Colls (Our Lady of the Necks), located at the Sant Llorenç church, is one of the most representative of Catalan Baroque. It was worked between 1773 and 1784 by the Folgueroles sculptor Josep Pujol i Juhí, and the style corresponds to a Late Baroque, quite loaded.
The dome is specially notable, but in general the whole ensemble expresses the great compositional and scenic ability of the sculptor, heightened with the excellent gilding and painting, which was made between 1784 and 1789 by Ramon Moliner.
All the themes sculpted are dedicated to la Verge dels Colls: the Magnificat on the right, the Salve on the dome and the Litanies on the pillars. The chapel has a niche with the remade image of the Virgin, the base of which was affected in 1936. The chapel was defrayed by the brotherhood of els Colls, a laic congregation of medieval origin very influential in the village’s history.
On the 6th of June 1779 the first stone was placed at the south side of Sant Miquel street. The work finished in four years, in 1783 (the same year it was blessed), immortalised over the portal of the main gate.
The new temple, a beautiful building with a delicate nave, four chapels on each side and platform at the height of the choir, is one of the biggest and most proportional of the region.
During the construction, permission was obtained to bury the ancient church. However, they used its sumptuous Baroque altarpiece from the main altar, four relieves, a corner-piece sink and the statue of Saint Michael, located today at the lateral exterior part and that names the street of the saint. The gorgeous altarpiece did not survive the damages of the Civil War (1936-1939) and it was destroyed.
The current main altar, made by architect Miquel Pallàs, was opened on the 16th August 1953.
According to tradition, Saint Ignatius of Loyola went off to meditate and write the Spiritual Exercises in one of the caves characteristic of the landscape of Manresa, sunken but with a frontal view of the Montserrat mountain and the Cardener river valley. As the years have passed, that simple little cave has turned into the most monumental and lavish building of the city of Manresa. Over the natural rock, an imposing sanctuary has been raised, which has undeniably become in the main Ignatian place of the city and in one of the most universal referents of the Jesuit world.
At the Santuari de la Cova de Sant Ignasi (Sanctuary of the Cave of Saint Ignatius), landscape and architecture fuse in a surprising way, creating an artificial façade over the hill of Sant Bartomeu (Saint Bartholomew), one of the most visible elements upon entering Manresa. Its decoration, with a mix of styles that unites the Baroque of the sculptural school of Manresa with Josep Llimona’s Modernism, becomes an hallmark that sets this sanctuary apart from the rest of heritage sites of the capital of Bages.
The Palau de Fluvià, known as Obra de Fluvià, is located one kilometre away from Guissona, next to the road that leads to Biosca, in the old territory of the Fluvià village. The site, which had belonged to the university of Guissona since 1383, eventually came under the jurisdiction of the bishopric of Urgell. In 1505, the bishop Peter of Cardona bought all of the state rights and began the construction of a residence-palace for the bishops of Urgell, replacing the old castle.
The work advanced quickly, but was interrupted in 1514, when the bishop Cardona moved to Tarragona as the new metropolitan archbishop. At that time, the ground floor was finished and covered.
It is a Gothic-Renaissance palace which was left unfinished at the start of the 16th century. The construction is of square plant, centred by a courtyard, from which all rooms unfold. The church of the palace is one of the most interesting spaces of the ensemble and was consecrated to Saint George, Saint Lucy and Saint Blaise. The main façade has three opening on the right side, two of which are windows with arcades held by corbels with vegetal and zoomorphic motives, and the third one has and oeil-de-boeuf. All three windows preserve Gothic decoration with segmental arches and pronounced mouldings. On the left side of the façade, all openings are currently mortared and one can see a very deteriorated window and a door, which gave direct access from the outside to the church. On the east façade, there are several openings, all mortared of unfinished and a door that is connected to the stables. One can access the palace through a foyer that leads to a richly decorated hall on the right and to the church on the left; in front, as previously stated, there’s a courtyard that centralises the whole building.
Some mouldings, friezes decorated with vegetal motives, filigrees, voussoired arches that provide access to the rooms, relieves with vegetal motives, richly decorated capitals, etc.
In 1808, with the Peninsular War, the French fortified the building and demolished part of the roof.
The Llobera hospital is located at the historical centre of the city of Solsona, not far from the cradle of distinguished Baroque artists such as painter Francesc Ribalta or the Morató lineage, important 18th century sculptors.
It is a Gothic-style building from the first half of the 15th century, located at the Dominics street. It was initially built to be a hospital for the poor, as Francesca of Llobera, daughter of merchants, stipulated in her will in 1411. This building has served successively as a hospital, a Dominician college, a university, a seminary, parochial schools and, nowadays, it serves as headquarters of the Comarcal Council of Solsonès.
The castle and church of Poble Vell in Súria, raised over a hill, dominate over the municipality that —with the demographic growth of the 19th century— expanded outside the walls until the bank of the Cardener.
Of medieval configuration, its narrow streets and stone houses hold all the charm of a historical village, without modern establishments that break the peaceful atmosphere. Admiring the façade of its buildings, one might be surprised to find lintels eminently sculpted in the 17th and 18th century, when the two doors of the wall that look towards Cardona and Manresa were opened.
Like all main squares, the one of the Poble Vell of Súria was also the vital centre of activity in the village until the beginning of the 20th century. Its triangular shape, of relatively small dimensions, surrounded by houses with notable interventions during the Baroque era, make it an ideal place to celebrate all kinds of cultural ceremonies, like those experienced in the 18th century.
In the midst of the Sant Jaume mountain rage, at the boundary of the current municipalities of Riner and Llobera, was where the Castle of Riner, from which the church has been preserved, stood. The construction, dating back to the 12th century, is plain, with a single nave with a barrel vault that starts above a small moulding.
On the outside we can observe some monolithic arches and some sculptural elements of a popular nature, like a character laying with a hand on his chest and the other on this stomach. From a later era, a corpulent bell-tower, a porch, an attached graveyard and a sacristy can be appreciated.
On the inside, the Baroque altarpiece dedicated to Saint James shines, dating back to the second half of the 17th century and of anonymous authorship. Recently restored, it is headed by the figure of Saint James, accompanied by Saint Isidore on the left and Saint Peter on the right, of whom several episodes of their hagiographies are presented. The most notable, due to its iconographic rareness, is that of the transfer of Saint James’ mortal remains by sea, on ship lead by an angel.
With privileged views over the Bages plain, the church of Sant Miquel (Saint Michael) dominates the mountain range of Castelltallat, next to which was erected the castle of Montedono, from which the stones where used. A few metres away from the temple (mainly built between the 15th and 18th centuries), there is the astronomical observatory, which imitates the starred vault of the presbytery of the church. Opened in 2004, only 6 years after the fires that devastated the pine trees of the mountain range, it encouraged looking at the sky in a time when it was difficult to look at the earth.
Inside the church, with a central nave and a lateral nave attached to the left side, we can find three altarpieces from the 17th and 18th centuries. The most notable is the one that dominates the temple, dedicated to the Saint Michael the Archangel, with five vertical sections, three levels and predella. Dating back to 1613, it is a valuable example of early Baroque, with its narrative style coming from Gothic altarpieces.
Aside from the main altarpiece, the two lateral chapels preserve the altarpiece of Sant Crist (Crucifixion), from 1703, with two Solomonic columns that were chosen to illustrate the 1929 World Expo. The Roser (Rosary) altarpiece, with 17th century original boards where the mysteries of the rosary are represented, has some 19th century alterations.
Madrona is a population entity from the municipality of Pinell de Solsonès. In a hill we find the monumental space with the ruins of two buildings: a castle and the old Romanesque Lombard church of Sant Pere de Madrona (Saint Peter of Madrona).
In the last third of the 18th century, in a nearby hill, a new parochial church was built, much bigger and spacious, made during a time of prosperity and population growth.
The Baroque church of Sant Pere of Madrona was constructed between 1771 and 1776 by Jaume Fornell, from Tentellatge, and it characterised by a very remarkable architecture. In the façade, one can observe the curvilinear crown, characteristic of 18th century Catalan Baroque. On the inside, the structure brings to mind Jesuit temples such as the Cova de Sant Ignasi (Cave of Saint Ignatius) in Manresa: a central nave articulated with pilasters that hold an entablature and that is flanked by lateral chapels over which there are platforms/Balconies that give is a profane air. In the apse basin there is a great pendentive that appears to radiate from the top of the main altarpiece.
The Baroque altar, from the beginning of the 18th century, that used to be in the ancient temple of Sant Pere was fragmented in three parts and moved to the new church. The inside of the temple is decorated with polychromy and with a representation of the twelve apostles.
Known as La Catedral dels Pagesos (the Cathedral of the Farmers), this church located at an end of the municipality of Pinós preserves one of the most splendid secrets of Solsonès. On the inside (monumental, taking into account the population spread out in the houses a few kilometres around), there are five Baroque altarpieces preserved, four of which from the Pujol family. This is why some have baptised it “the Pujol cathedral”.
The only altarpiece that can be attributed to the the family from Gurb is that of the Crucifixion (c. 1682), located in the first chapel on the right side. In front of it, there is the Rosary altar piece (1730), made by Segimon Pujol, gilded almost ninety years later. The other two lateral chapels have, one in front of the other, the altarpieces of Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Isidore, both dating back to 1789. If the Rosary altarpiece was of narrative style and has been preserves without any losses, these two are Neoclassic with Baroque traits and the sculptures that framed them were lost during the Spanish Civil War.
However, the truly impressive altarpiece of the temple is that of the main altar, made by Josep Pujol I Juhí, dating back to 1794. Dominated by the image of Saint Peter, patron of the parish, its figure appears surrounded by the four evangelists, the apostles and Saint Paul, in a pyramidal disposition full of dynamism.
La Coma I la Pedra is a municipality in Solsonès, located north of the Lord valley, at the head of the Cardener river. It is a village with plenty of water, there, we find the headwater of the Cardener river and the medicinal waters of the Puda fountain.
Near the small village of la Pedra, close to the Cardener river, with find the fountain of sulphurous waters called Puda, of great medicinal value. Since time immemorial it has been visited often by people of different origin and social status hoping to restore their health.
The first documented population centre is that of la Pedra. The la Pedra village is raised on a hill that dominated the Lord valley and it is here that we find the church of Sant Serni (Saint Saturnin), consecrated in the second half of the 9th century. This Romanesque church, very altered, has a single nave, covered with barrel vault and a marked transept, and faces East. It has two lateral chapels dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, a 17th century Baroque altarpiece and a subchoir with moulded plaster decorations.
The church of Sant Vicenç de Fals (Saint Vincent of Vals) is raised in the place known as Torres de Fals, on a hill of the municipality of Fonollosa, in Bages. It belongs to a monumental complex, with the rectory, the graveyard, a cylindrical tower from the old castle of Fals and another tower, also cylindrical, on the other side of the stream.
There is almost nothing left of the early Romanesque church, documented inn 1016. A Gothic chapel was added to it, which preserves some elements such as a geminated ogival window and a niche. It was by using this chapel that, in the 17th century, the current temple began to be built. The length of the Romanesque temple was kept, the width was augmented, a nave section was added and a new access gate was opened. In the 18th century the current bell-tower was raised and, in 1885, the tabernacle was added.
The inside of the church was greatly damaged during the Spanish Civil War.
Recently, the central nave of the church of Sant Vicenç of les Torres de Fals has been adapted as space for public use.
On top of a hill, by the banks of the river Sió and quite close to its headwater, we find the castle and church of Santa Magdalena (Saint Magdalene) of Vergós Guerrejat. This village, of some thirty inhabitants, is part of the municipality of Estaràs, close to the capital of the region: Cervera.
While there are indications of a church and a castle in the 9th century, built with the aim of controlling the territory in the frontier of the self-called “reconquesta” (the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula), the current building dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when the Meca, lords of the site, ordered the church of Santa Magdalena also be built. From the castle’s quarters, the lords could hear mass, which explains the presence of balconies in both sides of the central nave, just above the six lateral chapels.
The church, opened in 1720, is dominated by a Baroque altarpiece, not sculpted, but painted with the trompe l’oeil technique, which helped reduce the cost of a piece made of wood, likely unaffordable to lords of the lower nobility of the beginning of the 18th century.
In front of the castle and the church, the square is a splendid lookout (without trompe d’oeil of any kind) over the fields of the Segarra.
The Sanctuary of Pinós is located a few metres away from the geographic centre of Catalonia. A privileged lookout towards North and South, this spot at 900 metres of altitude “in the middle of nothing and everything” is, nowadays, still a place of pilgrimage. The ways have changes, but the devotees that centuries ago headed there to hear mass, have become, today, motorcyclists and cyclists that have a generous breakfast at the oldest inn of Catalonia, that has never stopped serving, since its opening in 1524.
Built in 1312 by the Knights Templar, the administration of the sanctuary soon arrived to hospitable hands. The temple, of Gothic style, has a restrained façade with a pediment held by two grooved columns. Aside from the restaurant, next to the church there are the quarters that were used to host the pilgrims and that nowadays are the town hall. Of the Baroque altarpiece, disappeared during the Spanish Civil War, remain the board of the discovery of the Virgin, as well as the polychromatic Madonna, located at the camarín.
Coaner is a little village inside the municipality of Sant Mateu de Bages. It is found in the valley of the stream Coaner, a tributary of the Cardener, and, etymologically, it comes from the Latin Quovece Nigro.
There, we can find the whole cylindrical tower of a castle, the Romanesque-Lombard church and the Sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Coaner (Sanctuary of the Madonna of Coaner).
The Sanctuary of the Mare de Déu de Coaner is a little church built in 1654 to perpetuate, according to tradition, the memory of the discovery of the Virgin by the stream, in the same spot.
The Virgin is a Romanesque carving of polychromatic wood, dating back to the 13th century.
The church has a rectangular plant with a small section attached to the right side and the graveyard on the left.
Inside, there is the 18th century Baroque altarpiece made by Segimon Pujol of Gurb in 1716. It is made of polychromatic and gilded wood, with five vertical sections, a predella, three bodies and an attic. It has a reticular structure and adapts itself to the apse-shaped chapel.
The story says that, on the 3rd of August 1458, the Mother of God appeared to a couple of young shepherds from Cirosa, who kept their herd near the Bassadòria. After playing with them for a while, with the appearance of a child Virgin, it disappeared at the place where in 1600 a chapel was built. This apparition promoted the construction of three successive temples that have been, since then, a place of holiness and pilgrimage, around which different constructions were built, among them the Casa Gran (the “Big House”, an ancient pilgrim’s inn, primer example of Renaissance civil architecture) and a Benedictine monastery.
The current church began to be built in 1652 and the final stretch, from which remain the lateral walls, was never covered. It is inside this place where one can see the remains of the old Gothic church, which was taken apart as the works on the new temple advanced and from which the organ, made by Antoni Bordons at the end of the 16th century, is preserved.
The hardships that impeded the finalisation of the temple, with several failed attempts until well into the 19th century, didn’t prevent sculptor Carles Morató from leaving, between 1747 and 1757, one of the most exuberant examples of Catalan Baroque altarpieces dominating the temple. Cohabitating with it discretely, in the chapel of the Santíssim (the Eucharist), we find the altarpiece of the first church, a thorough work by the Portuguese Pere Nunyes.
At the beginning of the 9th century in a geographic context of frontier between the Christian world and the Muslim world like the current region of Segarra, it was important to put remarkable milestones to ideological frontiers. The Miracle del Sant Dubte (Miracle of the Holy Doubt), which took place in Ivorra in 1010, evidences this.
According to the legend, Father Bernat Oliver, in the middle of the Eucharist, doubted the presence of Christ in the bread and wine. The doubt fostered the miracle: the chalice began to drip blood.
The story, consign to the bishop Ermengol from la Seu d’Urgell—later canonised— reached Rome, where Pope Sergius IV certified the Miracle and awarded all kinds of relics to the brotherhood.
From that moment on, the little church of Santa Maria (Saint Mary), a kilometre away from Ivorra, became a pilgrimage site. In 1663, the current sanctuary opened, even if the façade dates back to almost a 100 years later, in 1762. The lavish Baroque altarpiece which dominated the nave was burned during the Spanish Civil War. In the first decade of the 21st century, the church has been adorned again with a Christ by Agnès Pla and Jaume González and a photographic altarpiece by Sebastià Caus, which makes the incidents of the miracle shine with poetics belonging to our days.
Some historians claim, with absolute certainty, that the University of Cervera is the Baroque civil building more important in the South of Europe. Built following the orders of Philip V, as Agustí Duran i Sanpere claims, it must be understood “not as a token of peace, but as a levy imposed by the winner”. The suppression of all Catalan universities, and its centralisation (so Borbone) in a single establishment was without doubt a control mechanism over the Catalan intellectual class.
The first stone of the building was placed in 1718, but the work wasn’t finished until 1780, in a process that was slow and, most of all, excessively expensive for the royal vaults. A monumental site and —despite its perfect proportions—disproportionate with respect to the small village where it was placed and the duration it had, with the suppression of its activity in 1842.
The rotundity of the architectural plan, restrained, rationalist and robust, is complemented with the subtle sculptural work carried out by the sculptor from Manresa Jaume Padró since 1775. His stamp can be seen in several parts of the building, but it is chiefly in the retable of the auditorium where the marbles and alabasters fly with the nimbleness and delicacy of an absolute mastery. The job of Padró in Cervera, from where he wouldn’t leave until his death in 1804, permeated into several spaces of the cities, such as the church of Santa Maria (Saint Mary) or the Paeria building (the town hall).
The church of Sant Pere de Vallferosa (Saint Peter of Vallferosa) is next to the Tower of Vallferosa. It is a church with a single nave and lateral chapels of rectangular plant. On the northwestern part of the façade, the bell-tower is raised, with a square plant of two sections with trimmed edges and a stone balustrade. In each of the side of the bell-tower, a long rounded arch window opens. The access to the temple has an entablature with a split triangular pediment. In the centre of the pediment, there is a niche where there used to be an image of Saint Peter, currently lost.
Over the access gate there is a big rose window which illuminated the interior of the temple. The roof of the building has disappeared, so only the perimetric walls and the transverse arches that held the vault are preserved. One can glimpse other rooms of the church, such as the sacristy in South-East, or the stairs that lead to the choir on the South-West.