THE CÍSTER ROUTE (TARRAGONA)
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The zeal to uncompromisingly observe the Rule of St. Benedict, which rejects anything superfluous, resulted in the emergence in the 11th century of a renaissance monastic movement which took a stance against the wealth and somewhat sophisticated lifestyle that some monasteries had adopted. The need to regain the figure of the monk as someone dedicated to prayer, hard work and caring for pilgrims led to the birth of the Cistercian Order. Based on the teachings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercian monastic order spread across the whole of Europe. The Catalan-Aragonese monarchs entrusted the monks with the foundation of important centres endowed with huge tracts of farmland which stimulated the economy and demographic status of their new lands. In Catalonia, communities were established in Poblet, Santes Creus and Vallbona de les Monges in response to the need to colonise the under-populated lands conquered from the Saracens and located in the New Catalonia.

SANTES CREUS: Among the three Cistercian monasteries it is the one which is true to the finest Bernardian building plan. Founded in 1150 and established in Santes Creus since 1160, it went through glorious stages until 1835, the year it was finally disbanded.
POBLET: Poblet is the most important feature of the men’s branch of the Cistercian order which still houses a monks’ community. Poblet is a standing out point of reference in the history of the Aragon Crown. It was founded in 1150 having its trajectory cut in 1835 due to the Civil war. With the monks’ reestablishment in Poblet, an ambitious restoration and conservation process began in 1940 which has returned to the monastery the majesty it deserves.
VALLBONA DE LES MONGES: First news date from 1153, but it was not until 1176 it got completely integrated in the Cistercian order. It is the only monastery of the women’s branch in the route that has kept the nuns community for more than 800 years with no interruption but the war period, of course. The Monastery of Vallbona is a marvellous one.
 
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