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Practical guide / Ciutat Vella / El Raval / Sant Pau del Camp

Sant Pau del Camp

This small Romanesque church along the Carrer de Sant Pau is a haven of peace, away from the noise and bustle of Barcelona's Raval neighbourhood. Its thick stone walls enshrine the mysteries and wonders of a primitive architectural style steeped in symbolism which tells us about the past when convents dotted the Barcelona landscape.

The burial slab of Guifré II Borrell, who died in the year 911, helps us date the origins of one of Barcelona city's oldest surviving churches which was part of an ancient Benedictine monastery. Built in the Lombard Romanesque style, this jewel of the Raval has endured attacks and reconstructions which have done nothing to diminish its charms. Indeed, the monastery's church and cloister are in an extremely good state of repair. The simple structure, with its cross-shaped ground plan and three apses, has simple decorations along the top of the row of blind arches around the outside, which are underpinned by head-shaped reliefs. The main doorway of Sant Pau's church, with its round arch, beckons us inside this peaceful building.

This small and intimate space in Barcelona's Raval takes us back to the past of Barcelona city's convent neighbourhood and, from the church, we come out into the Sant Pau del Camp's monastery splendid cloister with its polylobulate arches. Like a game of I-Spy, if you look at the capitals you'll discover all kinds of geometrical, plant-like and fantastic motifs. Two of them are particularly eye-catching: Adam and Eve, standing next to the tree with the serpent, and a women being tormented by two toads which are devouring her breasts. Time has certainly stood still at Sant Pau del Camp's church and monastery.