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Catalonia points of interest

Monastery of Sant Esteve (Banyoles)

The monastery Sant Esteve is one of the main sights in Banyoles, the first mention of which dates back to 822. The Benedictine Monks had built the monastery in place of a late Roman church, some remnants of which can still be seen in the vault of the monastery.

Sant Esteve's construction had followed the chain of inflicted damages and constant restorations. The original church was knocked down in mid-10th century, and replaced by another at the end of the century. The next hundred years brought the demolition of the Roman monastery and its immediate replacement. The earthquakes of the 15th century had left their mark as well. In the middle of the 17th century the bell tower, the Roman courtyard and parts of the church disappeared. The new bell tower, built in 1695, has survived and is part of the structure today. Other parts of the monastery that we see today are Neoclassic structures.

The Sant Esteve monastery church has one central nave with three apses and one bell tower. The most prominent part of the facade is the late Gothic church gates with side spires and a large stained-glass rose window. The interior of the church is spacious and very reserved. There are nine chapels in total.

The courtyard of the monastery is a very important spot for the Benedictines, as here are the entrances to the monastic cells, here is the space for walks, congregations and talks. The courtyard is formed by 48 semicircular arches, with every third arch being reinforced by a pier, and there is a forged iron well in the centre of the yard. The southern part of the Sant Esteve Monastery still has remnants of a Medieval abbey.

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Church of Santa Maria dels Turers (Banyoles)

The first mention of the church Santa Maria Dels Turers was recorded in 1017. The church was built according to the wishes of the Saint Esteve monastery abbot, and in the beginning it was classified as a Roman church.

At the end of the 13th century the bishop ordered the rebuilding of the church, as its size was no longer suitable for the quickly growing town population of Banyoles. The construction concluded in 1333, turning the church into a Gothic structure.

Initially the whole structure contained only one central nave that was 11 meters wide with a heptagonal apse, but later, between the 17th and 19th century, two side naves were added.

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Monastery (Sant Feliu de GuГ­xols)

The monastery of Sant Feliu de GuГ­xols was founded in 968 and is, without a doubt, the main attraction in town. Up until the 20th century the structure had been rebuilt multiple times, and the monastery today is an eclectic mixture of historical periods and architectural styles.

The remnants of one building, which probably served as an abbot's or a governor's residence, is called Porta Ferrada. It is the oldest part of the complex. Other buildings include: the Romanesque monastery (10th cent.), the Torre de Fum tower (10-12th cent.), a Gothic church (14-15th cent.), sacristy (16-17th cent.), the Arco de San Benito arc (the 18th cent.), the cell Ermita de San Telmo. In 1723 a chapel was built atop the ruins of an ancient stronghold, from where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Costa Brava coast.

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Monastery of Santa MarГ­a (Ripoll)

The main sight of Ripoll is the monastery of Santa Maria (Monasterio de Santa MarГ­a), built by the decree of Count Wifredo El Velloso (Wilfred the Hairy) in 888. The monastery played many important cultural roles in the Middle Ages, including the writing of religious manuscripts, among which were three Bibles that are now preserved in the Vatican. This role is basis enough for some historians to assert that the Catalan nation was founded in Ripoll by Wifredo El Velloso.

There is very little left of the original monastery structure, which used to be a splendid example of Roman architecture: only the pillared gallery of the 11th century and the inner two-level courtyard remain. The monastery received its present appearance at the end of the 19th century as a result of a massive reconstruction triggered by the destruction brought by an earthquake and the Carlist wars.

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