Main square in Sant Cugat del Vallès

©Esme Fox/Lonely Planet

Sant Cugat del Vallès


Marauding Muslims razed the one-time Roman encampment-turned-Visigothic monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès to the ground in the 8th century. These things happen, so, after the Christians got back in the saddle, work on a new, fortified Benedictine monastic complex was stoically begun. What you see today is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic buildings.

The lower floor of the cloister is a fine demonstration of Romanesque design and it’s the principal reason for coming. In particular, the decoration of the 72 pairs of columns, with scenes ranging from pious scriptural events to completely medieval fantasy, is captivating. The former monastery holds occasional temporary exhibitions.

Sant Cugat del Vallès lies about 15km north of central Barcelona, over the Serra de Collserola hills. From the train station, head left along Avinguda d’Alfonso Sala Conde de Egara and turn right down Carrer de Ruis i Taulet, followed by a left into Carrer de Santiago Rusiñol, which leads to the monastery.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Barcelona attractions

1. Vil·la Joana


Opposite the main information office of the Parc Natural de Collserola lies the historic 19th-century villawhere Catalonia’s revered writer Jacint…

2. Parc Natural de Collserola

3.82 MILES

Barcelonins needing an easy escape from the city seek out this protected pine-scented 80-sq-km park. It's a great place to hike, run and bike, and has a…

3. Parc del Laberint d’Horta

3.92 MILES

Laid out in the late 18th century by Italian engineer Domenico Bagutti for Joan Antoni Desvalls, the Marquès d’Alfarràs i de Llupià, this carefully…

4. Tibidabo

3.96 MILES

Framing the north end of the city, the pine-forested mountain of Tibidabo, which tops out at 512m, is the highest peak in Serra de Collserola. Much of its…

5. Basílica del Sagrat Cor de Jesús

3.97 MILES

At the very top of 512m-tall Tibidabo hill, overlooking the Parc d'Atraccions, this landmark basilica is meant to be Barcelona’s answer to Paris’ Sacré…

6. Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo


The reason most barcelonins travel up to Tibidabo's summit is for some thrills at this old-school funfair. Here you'll find whirling high-speed rides and…

7. Torre de Collserola

4.18 MILES

Sir Norman Foster designed the 288m-high, 1992-completed Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower on the slopes of Tibidabo. An external glass lift…

8. Observatori Fabra

4.32 MILES

Inaugurated in 1904, this Modernista observatory 415m above sea level on Tibidabo is still a functioning scientific foundation. On certain evenings…