Ara fa uns mesos un grup d’agents de turisme de la Índia i altres països del continent asiàtic van visitar diferents llocs de Catalunya, convidats per l‘Agència Catalana de Turisme. Un d’aquests va ser el Monestir de les Avellanes. Avui us deixem amb aquest article en anglès, escrit per Siddhartha Joshi, un dels touroperadors que va quedar enamorat del Monestir de les Avellanes
Monastery of Les Avellanes: Living with de monks
I fell in love with the Monastery of Les Avellanes from the moment I entered. Much of it had to do with the fact that I was in a bus for a long time in desperate need to use the loo. So the moment I reached here, I ran right into the washroom to do my business, even leaving my bags behind like orphans.
When I walked out again I finally saw how stunning the place actually was. Founded in the year 1166, the monastery has been a center of influence in the region since then. It was also a strong center of power during the medieval ages. The monastic order founded lived on for 650 years and from 1910 onward the Marist brothers have been continuing this tradition. Read more: Monastery of Les Avellanes.
It was still late afternoon and not completely dark so I took my tripod, walked across the road into the open fields and took some shots. Even though my balls froze in the cold, my fingers somehow managed to click the shutter! In an hour it was pitch dark and too cold to stay out, and I walked baby into my room.
All the rooms at the monastery hotel are actually rooms which were originally used by the monks. And that’s the reason why they are so simple and basic. I loved this part and felt connected to history. My room belonged to a monk as well, but sadly I forgot to capture the details about him there.
The only thing which disappointed me was the lack of good wifi in the rooms. Every time I wanted connection, I had to walk to the reception (thankfully close to my room) and get online. But on second thoughts maybe it was better that way, it certainly made me spend more time being offline 🙂
Guided tour of Monastery of Les Avellanes
Later we were given a short guided tour of the place, and that’s when the entire history of the place came right in front of my eyes. The monastery also has an old chapel and we also saw some monks praying in a room on the upper floor. This was really interesting because the abbey wasn’t just a relic from the past converted into a hotel, but a real functioning monastery which was still inhabited by the monks and was a center of learning for them. It was really sad that I didn’t get a chance to interact with them.
As a traveller you can also take guided tours of the property. The tour consists of a walk through history from the monastery buildings, sculptures and other details in the environment of the monastery. The duration of the visit is one hour and the language is Catalan, however, do check with the reception if they can do one for you in English (we had our tour in English). Timings: 5pm (Saturdays) and 11.30pm (Sundays).
It wasn’t high tourist season and there were very people around at the property and I could just walk around aimlessly, click and sit around till it was time for dinner. We ate at ‘The Cloister’, a lovely dining place at the heart of the monastery. Happily for me the vegetarian selection was good and the wine even better. Over multiple glasses of wine we all interacted even more freely and the evening became even more fun.
Getting to the Monastery of Les Avellanes
Monastery of Avellanes
Ctra. C-12 Kms. 181
25612th of Balaguer (La Noguera, Lleida)
If you come from the C-12 (from Lleida) to reach Balaguer, always follow the directions towards Ager (C-12)
Coming from the C-12 (from Barcelona, exit A-2) Balaguer enter the first exit, then Roundabout Road of Andorra (C-13) straight on (2nd exit) following Balaguer. Straight Balaguer (provided by C / Urgell). Once you reach the river pass through the bridge (Old Bridge), then continue to the right (you’ll see signs Ager C-12).
Note: The C-12 towards the monastery, once you reach the diversion of Os de Balaguer, do not leave the C-12 and continue straight. After a few kilometers you will see the Monastery of Avellanes.