Sant Cugat Cloister

Sant Cugat Cloister
Sant Cugat Cloister

Inside the Sant Cugat Monastery we find the Romanesque cloister that was built in the 12th century and whose relevance is such that it deserves a detailed explanation of both its architecture and the sculptures found there.

The cloister of Sant Cugat is atypical example of Romanesque architecturewith a quadrangular plan by Arnau Gatell or Cadell, the first artist of Catalan origin whose name is known of the. In this context, we must point out how in the Middle Ages the work of an architect or a sculptor was a practice considered to be artisanal, any work done with the hands was, so that the artists were equated with the rest of the artisans, also working within the same guild system and therefore, few were those who signed his work. It is believed that Cadell spent his entire life in Girona, although the influence of French statuary can be seen in his works, especially the Toulosse school, probably due to the influences that reached the Iberian Peninsula through the Camino de Santiago.

Where today we find the cloister garden, the remains of the old basilica where the mortal remains of Sant Cugat rested and were honored are still preserved. The cloister has about thirty meters in each of the bands with semicircular arches which are supported by paired columns with a total of one hundred and forty-five capitals -in one of the pairs of columns it was necessary toadd an extra capital to avoid collapsing due to the weight-they were made between 1190 and 1200.


Regarding the materials used in the construction, we should point out that while the capitals seem to be made of stone extracted from the Montjuic quarry, the stone to make the columns was brought from a quarry in Gerona. A double division can be established in the capitals, whether we take into account their dating or their theme. In terms of dating, it seems that the northern, eastern and western galleries could date from the end of the 12th century, while the southern gallery would date from the beginning of the 13th century.

The capitals can also be divided according to their theme, on the one hand we have the storied capitals with scenes taken from the Holy Scriptures and others that represent monastic life (such as the capital of The Childhood of Christ or that of The Virtues) and have a clear didactic intention while others are merely decorative with plant and zoomorphic scenes.

For its part, the upper floor was raised later and in it we find semicircular arches supported again by pairs of columns but this time with Tuscan capitals, the result of the influence of the Italian Renaissance throughout Europe.

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