In the last years of the 12th century, King Alfonso II el Chaste attracted a group of Carthusian monks to this area of what is now the province of Tarragona , an area that goes by two names. That of Montsant, that is to say “holy mountain”, since since ancient times a good number of hermits have settled in this landscape. And it is also known as Priorat, that is, priory, because of the power that those monks ended up having over a wide territory over time.
It was not until the early years that construction began on the Monastery of Escaladei, considered the first Carthusian monastery in Spanish lands. From then on it was a community in continuous growth, so the building underwent numerous renovations and extensions, so that in the 18th century it had three different cloisters. However, from there came the decline, which has been unstoppable since it was abandoned.
Fortunately, in recent times there has been an intervention to stop its state of ruin and restore some of its parts, such as the baroque portal of the church, its cloisters from different periods, the old refectory where they ate the monks and part of the cells.
In this way it is possible to visit it and get an idea of what life was like for these religious, who due to the archaeological excavations that have been made and the documentationthat has been found, it is known that they had cells that had their own cloistered garden, a space to take the air, reflect, pray in solitude and also cultivate certain aromatic and medicinal plants that they used for their recipes and cures.
Furthermore, in the surroundings there were terraced fields where they had their farms, in which laborers worked above all. Some fields in which they introduced the cultivation of the grape, some vines that develop perfectly in the area, in fact, today they are still cultivated to produce some valued wines, which are known precisely by the name of Priorat wines.
The truth is that the architectural ensemble that is contemplated today is the fruit of several centuries of history and the influence of various artistic styles. Possibly the fewest traces remain of the medieval and Romanesque origins of the construction, the remains of the Renaissance and Baroque era predominate more. Even so, it is curious to see how a modest construction grew and grew, and not only architecturally, but also in power and we alth, since there came a time when the Carthusians had a great influence in this area of Catalonia.