Catalan Romanesque at its best
The Romanesque heritage of Vall de Boí is exceptional due to the existence of a large number of churches of the same architectural style concentrated in such a small area. Until well into the last century the valley remained quite isolated, which prevented the arrival of builders, artists, architects or priests willing to make changes to the original works. Thanks to this fact, these churches have been preserved over time with only minor alterations, meaning that their original conception has hardly changed.
Vall de Boí’s Romanesque ensemble is made up of the churches of Sant Climent and Santa Maria in Taüll, Sant Joan in Boí, Santa Eulàlia in Erill la Vall, Sant Feliu in Barruera, La Nativitat in Durro, Santa Maria in Cardet, L’Assumpció in Cóll, and Sant Quirc Hermitage also in Durro.
One of the main characteristics of this ensemble is the common architectural style. The temples were all built during the 11th and 12th centuries, following a model imported from northern Italy, the Lombard Romanesque, characterised by its functional buildings, skilled stonework, thin bell-towers and the external decoration of rounded arcading and pilaster strips.
The Romanesque churches of Vall de Boí are the artistic reflection of a society which was structured around the hierarchies of feudalism and clergy, in this case personified in the Lords of Erill and the bishopric of Roda de Isábena, the promoters of these temples. In this medieval society, not only did the Church serve a religious function, but it also played an important social role as a place for people to meet and seek refuge. In the case of Vall de Boí, this social function of churches was further underlined by the use of the thin bell-towers as a means of communication and protection.
An important highlight are the murals that used to be located in the churches of Sant Climent and Santa Maria in Taüll and in Sant Joan in Boí, and which are currently kept at the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC) in Barcelona. Also worthy of mention are the carvings produced by the Erill’s Workshop, particularly the Descent in the church of Santa Eulàlia in Erill la Vall.