Monastery of Pedralbes

The Monastery of Pedralbes is a Gothic monastery in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is now a museum, housing permanent exhibitions on its own art and legacy as well as third-party special exhibitions from time to time. The Chapel of St. Michael was restored and re-opened in 2018.

Side façade of the church in the monastery of Pedralbes.
Tomb of Elisenda de Montcada.


The name of the site in the XIV century was Petras Albas (in the accusative), Latin for "white stones." The original name devolved into the current one.


The monastery was founded by King James II of Aragon for his wife Elisenda de Montcada in 1326. It housed a community of Poor Clares, mostly members of noble families. The queen gave the monastery a series of privileges, including the direct protection of the city of Barcelona, through the Consell de Cent ("Council of the Hundred"), who had the task to defend it in case of danger. Elisenda also built a palace annexed to the monastery, where she lived after her husband's death in 1327. She died there in 1367. The remains of the palace were discovered in the 1970s.

During the Catalan Revolt (1640), the nuns were expelled, but later returned. A small number of nuns still reside in the complex. The monastery was declared a national monument in 1991.


Originally the monastery (built in white stone, pedres albes in Catalan, whence its name) was defended by a line of walls, of which today only two towers and one gate remain.

The church has a single nave, with rib vaults and a polygonal apse, and houses a Gothic retablo by Jaume Huguet. The façade is characterized by a large rose window.

View of the cloister.

The cloister has three floors, and a length of 40 meters, with a central garden of orange trees and palms. It is formed by wide arches on columns, whose capitals are decorated with the emblems of the Kings of Aragon and the House of Montcada. The sepulchre of Queen Elisenda, in alabaster stone, is located in one of the cloister's wings.

Also notable is the Chapel of St. Michael, housing several fresco paintings by Ferrer Bassa. Dating to 1346, they show the influence of the Italian painter Giotto.

In the 1990s the former dormitory housed a permanent exhibition of works from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, with works by Italian Trecento painters, and later works by artists including Rubens, Canaletto, Tintoretto, Velázquez and Fra Angelico (Virgin of Humility, one of his masterpieces). Now these are in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona, or the main Madrid home of the collection.

See alsoEdit


  • Escudero i Ribot, Maria Assumpta; Josep Mainar (1976). El mueble catalán en el Monasterio de Pedralbes. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.
  • SANJUST i LATORRE, Cristina (2010). L'Obra del Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes des de la seva fundació fins al segle XVI: un monestir reial per a l'orde de les clarisses a Catalunya. Barcelona: Promocions i Publicacions Universitàries ; [Bellaterra]: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona: Institut d'Estudis Món Juïc.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 41°23′44″N 2°06′44″E / 41.39556°N 2.11222°E / 41.39556; 2.11222