Throughout Occitania and Catalonia, many religious buildings flourished in the Middle Ages and offer us, 1000 years later, an extraordinary heritage to discover!
In Roussillon and Albères, the Benedictine abbeys, such as Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines et Saint-André, were founded to promote and supervise the economy and remain, even today, at the heart of the life of our territory.
Their churches – former abbeys – welcome visitors, specialists and concerts, but also residents during important moments in their lives…
Follow the road and the paths
They will take you from churches to Romanesque chapels to travel back in time. Take the time to pass through their doors and immerse yourself in 1000 years of history!
Saint-André (known as Sorède)
This former Benedictine abbey, founded in 820, left us a magnificent Romanesque church and numerous sculptures from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. On the facade we discover its lintel carved in Carrara marble, the terrible simiots and the surprising window with a richly carved marble frame.
The interior is no less rich! Sculpted high altar, Muslim tombstone, Roman holy water font, Roman terminals... So many treasures from the past preserved in this church that you must discover!
Its architecture, purely Romanesque, bears witness to the art of building between the 12th and XNUMXth centuries. With its Latin cross plan, its majestic chevet, its barrel vault culminating at XNUMX m high, it is one of the most beautiful sites of Catalan Romanesque art!
Just like its neighbor of Saint-André, this former abbey has kept its church, dedicated to Saint-Michel, which has become a parish… and many treasures! The list of things to discover is long here too!
It is impossible to miss the magnificent sculpted lintel on the front of the church. A major piece of Romanesque art, it is the first Romanesque sculpture dated from Roussillon. Its Latin inscription makes it possible to date it to the nearest year: between October 1019 and October 1020. It has just celebrated its thousand years and still retains a fascinating beauty!
Another obvious fact: visit its cloister. Built in the XNUMXth century, it is first of all remarkable for the polychromy of its marbles. The motifs of the sculptures are varied: local fauna and flora, allegorical subjects and liturgical scenes...
At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, a large part of the columns of the cloister were sold and the cloister dismantled... But thanks to the combined efforts of the town hall and the ASVAC association, the stones were reinstalled at the end of the XNUMXth century to bring life back to this majestic place!
Focus on the Ste Colombe de Cabanes chapel
This former dependency of the monasteries Saint-André-de-Sorède is today in the commune of Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines. This building with a single nave and a Latin cross plan carefully guards within it, 4 columns crowned with Romanesque capitals sculpted in marble from the former cloister of Saint-André.
The chapel can be visited during the summer season, inquire at 04 48 98 00 02.
The Notre-Dame du Vilar priory, a former collegiate church founded around 1089, is nestled in a haven of peace and greenery above the village of Villelongue-dels-Monts. Its decline led over time to the ruin of the buildings... But here again, the will and the passion allowed its rebirth thanks in particular to its previous owner and many volunteers! Since then, the church and certain spaces have been open to visitors thanks to the community of Orthodox monks who settled there and now take care of it.