The oldest building in the city’s grand Pedralbes quarter, dating back to 1326, the church and monastery of Monestir de Pedralbes is now a museum and remains one of the city’s most stunning examples of religious architecture. Named for its characteristic white stones (pedres albes), the complex is acclaimed for its Catalan Gothic style, featuring a central courtyard garden, herb garden and fountain. The monastery, which once housed the nuns of the Franciscan Order of Saint Clare, was commissioned by the wife of James II of Aragon, Queen Elisenda, who famously took up residence in the monastery after her husband’s death.
Those interested in uncovering some of Barcelona’s rich religious history will find wandering the museum of the Monestir de Pedralbes an enlightening experience, devoted to showcasing the lives of the nuns who served in the building during the 14th century. The large 3-storey cloister is centered around an arcaded courtyard and the dormitories, refectory, kitchen, stables and an infirmary have been beautifully reconstructed to depict daily life within the convent. A selection of original furnishings and artwork, gold and silverware and a number of religious and personal artifacts are dotted throughout. Most exquisite is the small chapel, home to the Capella de Sant Miquel, with its 14th-century murals created by Catalan artist Ferrer Bassa, and the exceptional ornamental grave of Queen Elisenda herself.