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Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí

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Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Fresco of Christ Pantocrator from Sant Climent de Taüll, acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of Romanesque art
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 988
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2000 (24th Session)

The Churches of the Vall de Boí are a set of nine Early Romanesque churches declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO and located in the Vall de Boí, in the Catalan comarque of Alta Ribagorça (Province of Lleida).

World Heritage Site

UNESCO declared World Heritage Sites in 2000 to nine churches:
Code Name Place Coordenates
988-001 Sant Feliu de Barruera Barruera
988-002 Sant Joan de Boí Boí
988-003 Santa Maria de Taüll Taüll
988-004 Sant Climent de Taüll Taüll
988-005 Santa Maria de Cóll Cóll
988-006 Santa Maria de Cardet Cardet
988-007 La Nativitat de Durro Durro
988-008 Sant Quirc de Durro Durro
988-009 Santa Eulàlia d'Erill la Vall Erill la Vall

History of the Frescoes of the Vall de Boí

Model of the churches of the Vall de Boí in Catalunya en Miniatura

During the early 20th century there was a major effort to study and catalog the Romanesque wall paintings in the churches of the Vall de Boí area. This activity was driven by both the academic interests of scholars, and by art dealers, whose only motives were financial gain. Between 1905 and 1909 the Board of the Museums of Barcelona printed faithful reproductions of these Pyrenean frescoes, and the publication of these works unleashed a desire for their acquisition by museums and private collectors. By 1919 many intermediaries were involved in buying and selling these works, which went mostly to museums and private collections within the United States.

The Taüll region became an exception to this trend, since the local population refused to allow the frescoes and other art works to leave their churches. This action was escalated to the level of the Commonwealth of Catalonia and to the bishop of La Seu d'Urgell. Finally, it was agreed that the frescoes would be best kept in the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC), secure from possible theft or unscrupulous transactions. A team of Italian restorers carried out the task of removing the paintings from the walls and, in some cases, replacing the works with in situ reproductions.

The Taüll Romanesque paintings preserved in MNAC have since become world famous. Interest by art academics and professionals has led to a systematic study of all other remaining Romanesque murals of the Vall de Boí area, and most of these are now in safe protection at MNAC in Barcelona and at the Museum of Vic.

Sant Climent de Taüll

Sant Climent de Taüll.

The church of Sant Climent de Taüll was consecrated the December 10, 1123 by the bishop of Roda. This is a church with three naves separated by cylindrical columns, topped by three semicircular apses. The roof, of two sheds, is built of wood. The building stands six-story bell tower which despite being attached to the building, not an integral part thereof.

The main entrance is located on the south facade and is arched. Inside the church there were many frescos by an unknown painter called the Master of Taüll. The Pantocrator of the church, is now preserved in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), is considered one of the best examples of Romanesque art in Catalonia.

Santa Maria de Taüll

Also was consecrated in 1123 and worked as parish of the municipality of Taüll during the 18th century. Its structure is very similar to that of Sant Climent. Basilica floor plan, consists of three naves and three apses. The bell tower is in the center of the nave. In its inside also were found many frescoes studied in 1907 by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Highlights the fresco representing the Saint Mary with the child on his lap and that is also shown in the MNAC.

Sant Joan de Boí

Bell tower of Sant Joan de Boí.

It is also a church with three naves. Originally, the roof was made of wood but later was changed to a stone hedge. The bell tower, of clear-Lombard style, is attached to the lateral nave located in the south. Only preserves two of its original story as the last leg of the bell tower was added later. Of the church preserves only the apse. It also has a notable a collection of paintings of the 12th century among which highlights those representing various mythical animals. The originals, the Paintings from Sant Joan in Boí, are in the MNAC while in the church it can see reproductions of these paintings.

Santa Eulàlia d'Erill la Vall

It was declared a monumento histórico artístico in 1962. The building is a single nave with a semicircular apse. The outer side has a portico decorated with cylindrical columns. The bell tower, typical example of Lombard architecture of the Vall de Boí, is of six stories, with a total height of 23 meters. It is decorated with double windows that frame the arches. In the sacristy was found a 12th-century sculptural group known as El Davallament. The sculpture is preserved separately: one part is at the MNAC and one in the Episcopal Museum of Vic.

Sant Feliu de Barruera

First appears documented in the late 13th century but little is known of its history. Located in the municipality of Barruera, is a building with a single nave with a barrel vault. The nave is headed by a semicircular apse.

La Nativitat de Durro

Situated at an altitude of 1,386 meters, in the small town of Durrës, the church is documented for the first time in the 11th century when it belonged to the County of Pallars. Its style and characteristics are very similar to those already mentioned. It has a single nave and a single apse and five-story bell tower has very few openings.

Sant Quirc de Durro

Sant Quirc de Durro.

It is a small hermitage of simple architecture. The nave is covered with barrel vault and finished in a presbytery, slightly higher than the rest of the nave. The entrance door is arched with voussoirs. The hermitage is very dimly lit and only has a porthole in its head and small openings on the west facade.

Santa Maria de Cardet

This is a church of small dimensions of a single nave covered with four sections of a groin vault. Being situated on a slope, the apse, of two floors, is at a higher level than the central nave. In the basement of the apse is a crypt.

Santa Maria de Cóll

Also known as the church of the Assumption, is a single nave with barrel vault. The bell tower is square and consists of two floors: the first consists of pointed windows while in the second hold the bells. Believed to be built during the second third of the 13th century.

See also

External links

  • Detailed information about the churches of the Vall de Boí
  • Information on the main churches
  • Sant Climent de Taüll
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