Barcelona Cultura


Heritage in Times of War. The Royal Monastery of St Mary of Pedralbes

The Royal Monastery of St Mary of Pedralbes bears material and spiritual witness to the religious order that lived there from 1327 and who made it a part of the collective history of Barcelona.

In the period between 1931 and 1941, the monastery played a major role in the contemporary history of Catalonia. In 1931 it was declared a national historical and artistic monument, along with other historical properties in the city. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the monastery was confiscated by the Government of Catalonia and the convent went on to have various uses: to store works of art, mainly by the Spanish Government; the Catalan Government wanted to install the Museum of Gothic Art of Catalonia there, and later, in 1938, it became the headquarters of the General Historical Archives of Catalonia. Despite the chaos and disorder of the time, it became a key cultural centre and a model for the study and custody of Catalan documentary and artistic heritage.

The religious community at the monastery suffered deeply during this period of turmoil, which, among other things, led to its dissolution and forced the nuns into exile. The property thus ceased to have a religious function.

Thanks to the strategic value of the surroundings of the monastery, a long way from the city centre and well protected by the St Pere Màrtir and Font del Lleó antiaircraft batteries, the area provided a refuge for both the cultural heritage and people and the institutions.

The exhibition “Heritage in Times of War. The Royal Monastery of St Mary of Pedralbes” examines the role played by the monastic enclosure in the period 1931-1941, mainly in the context of the history of Catalonia, from the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic to the nuns’ return to Pedralbes after the Civil War. Organised into four exhibition areas (refectory, chapter house, dormitory and Cell of the Holy Crosses), plus a space for the audiovisual presentation, the exhibition has a common documentary nexus. However, since the four areas function independently, each of them can be visited separately.