An amazing Romanesque heritage

The Pyrenean mountains are sprinkled with many churches and chapels that represent a very valuable Romanesque heritage. High bell towers topped with slate tiles stand out over the small villages while little churches hide amid hills and mountains.

Many of the churches host Romanesque wall paintings and amazing altarpieces that fill the inside with colour. If you come to Pallars Sobirà, you must discover that typical and unique Romanesque heritage of the Pyrenees.

You will definitely be surprised!

Santa Maria de Gerri de la Sal

Santa Maria d’Àneu

Santa Maria d’Àneu’s church is the only vestige of the monastic ensemble of Escalarre. Its structure of wooden beams is covered with a semicircular apse and a wide Prebysterian arch. Considering their sculptural quality and their iconographic originality, the wall paintings of the central apse represent one of the most important pictorial ensembles of the Catalan Romanesque art. The originals are preserved in the National Art Museum of Catalonia. Visit the collection at the Ecomuseum of Valls d’Àneu!

Santa Maria de Ginestarre

This Romanesque church located in the village of Ginestarre hosts the reproduction of the original wall paintings of the apse as well as a Romanesque sculpture of the Virgin Mary with her Child. Devoted to Mary, its majestic proportions and refined decoration make it different from the other Romanesque churches. It hosts an original Christus that dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

Santa Maria de Ribera de Cardos

This beautiful Romanesque church located in the village of Ribera de Cardós has a spectacular tower bell that is attached to the main building. The bell tower is square-based, massive and topped with a terrace surrounded by battlements with embrasures that highlight its original defensive function.

Sant Iscle and Santa Victòria de Surp

The Romanesque church of Surp is devoted to Sant Iscle and Santa Victòria martyr, siblings. The current temple has a high square-based bell tower with gemel windows and an attractive apse with arcatures and pilaster strips. The apse had been decorated with wall paintings that are now spread out between the Diocesan Museum of La Seu d’Urgell (the largest fragment of the apse decoration), the National Art Museum of Catalonia (fragment of apostle John holding the Book under an arcade) and the Art Museum of Toledo, Ohio, USA (fragment with apostles James and Philip).

Sant Joan d’Isil

Located on the outskirts of the village of Isil, along the river Noguera Pallaresa, this church was first built in Romanesque style. Some of its architectural elements may categorise it as Early Gothic style. It was built in the 12th century, probably on an ancient Benedictine monastery. Visit it through the Ecomuseum of Valls d’Àneu!

Sant Julià d’Unarre

The monumental ensemble of Sant Julià, in Unarre, consists of a pretty church from the 18th century, the cemetery and the comunidor tower (small open construction located near the church where the priests used to ward off bad weather), which is one of the two towers that remain in Àneu valleys. The church hosts a Baroque altarpiece whose almost all figures are original and seem to have been made in a local workshop. Although incomplete, some of the altarpieces of the side chapels are also original pieces from the 18th century. They all make up an important ensemble of rural Baroque style that coexist with a series of wall paintings that date from the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Visit it through the Ecomuseum of Valls d’Àneu!

Sant Pau i Sant Pere d’Esterri de Cardós

Located in the village of Esterri de Cardós, this Romanesque building has a spacious nave that is covered with a barrel vault and topped with a Romanesque-Lombard semicircular apse with three embrasured windows. The western wall has a bull’s eye made of rough stone, while the interior tiling is made of pebbles that have been arranged in a beautiful geometrical decoration. The main altar shows a copy of the 12th-century wall paintings, which allows to admire them in the original architectural frame and context where they were created. This rather large wall decoration is quite similar, regarding both style and content, to the paintings of Sant Pere, in Sorpe, and Santa Eulàlia, in Estaon.

Sant Serni, Baiasca

Despite being modified throughout the years, this small Romanesque church of Baiasca preserves some artistic elements from that period which turn out to be the most interesting attraction for the visitors. In the niche and the semi-cylinder of the apse, it preserves the only ensemble of wall paintings created on location in all the Pyrenees. The apse is also singular, as it has two external floors, with two levels of Lombard arcatures that represent, in the inside part, a lower level with a crypt, and an upper level that hosts the ensemble of wall paintings. Another outstanding element is the Baroque altarpiece.

Monumental ensemble, Son

he monumental ensemble of Son is one of the most emblematic Romanesque constructions in Àneu Valley. Located at 1,393 metres above sea level, it is composed of Sant Just and Sant Pastor church, the comunidor tower (small open construction located near the church where the priests used to ward off bad weather), the Gothic altarpiece, the stoups, the baptismal fonts, … All those elements, which are closely connected with each other, represent a unique testimony, an open window that allows you to plunge deep into the world of popular religiosity, believes and rituals.

Visit it through the Ecomuseum of Valls d’Àneu!

Mare de Déu de Biuse

The current Baroque sanctuary of Our Lady of Biuse and the surrounding barns rise onto the remains of the small medieval village of the same name, at 1,250 metres above sea level. Every second Sunday of May, the village of Llavorsí holds a pilgrimage with a sung mass known as “the charity of Biuse”. This name comes from the bread that is blessed at the end of the mass, also known as “charity”, that each pilgrim gets at the entrance of the chapel.

Mare de Déu de la Muntanya

This little sanctuary is located upstream from the river Font Blanca amid a beautiful natural environment with fantastic views of the region. On Santa Cogesma Sunday, at Pentecost, it hosts a popular gathering.

Santa Maria d’Arboló

Located between Arcalís and Gerri de la Sal on a beautiful lookout overlooking the river Noguera Pallaresa, Santa Maria Chapel is the only one that is accessible on foot through different paths. This Romanesque-Lombard construction is made of a single rectangular-based nave and semicircular apse at the western part. On the first Sunday of May, it hosts a mass gathering.

Sant Jaume d’Arestui

Despite its small size, this Romanesque chapel from the village of Arestui is located in a beautiful place at 1,500 meters above sea level, overlooking the surrounding mountains. It has one nave and a rectangular apse.

Santa Maria de Gerri de la Sal

Consecrated on 25th September 1149, the current monastery of Santa Maria was built according to the typical structures of the monastic buildings of the Early Middle Ages. However, the very first building might have its origin in a little Visigoth church located near the current construction, archaeologically documented. It was one of the richest monasteries in Urgell bishopric, whose extensive heritage is basically composed of the salt mines, a very valuable product during the Middle Age period. In the Modern Period, the abbots of Santa Maria monastery owed their own salt mines and received tithes, although these did not represent any extraordinary income. With the decay of the monastery and the confiscation of the first half of the 19th century, the loss of territorial power also affected the possessions of salt assets. Its story ended with the secularization of 1835, which implied the disintegration of the community that lived in the building and of their properties.

Sant Pere del Burgal

This Benedictine ensemble is one of the most interesting representatives of the Catalan monasteries of the Early Middle Ages. The restored building has got three naves –the central one being higher than the lateral ones– whose perimetric walls and separation between the central nave and the northern lateral one have been preserved. The church is completed with three apses to the east and a semi-circular apse to the west, divided in two levels covered by quarter circle beams. All this dates back to the time of the Lombard architectural shapes of the 11th century. The wall paintings were reproduced there.

Visit it through the Ecomuseum of Valls d’Àneu!