Montblanc (Tarragona)

Órgano MontblancA recent visit with colleague Michael Noone to the wonderful monastery of Poblet took us by chance to the nearby village of  Montblanc, and the impressive church of Santa María la Mayor. The building has a somewhat checkered history, from its primitive Romanesque beginnings, through plans at the beginning of the thirteenth century for a much larger and grander Gothic building. This was clearly going to take a while, so a smaller church was built as a temporary solution; this was concluded in 1288, at which point the small Romanesque church was destroyed and the new old project begun. However, the plague and the Catalan uprising of the fifteenth century interrupted work, and the presbytery was not completed until 1505. Meanwhile, in 1479, Juan II’s body rested there for a night on its way to burial in Poblet. The church was finally consecrated in 1548, even though the ambitious original scheme had not been completed. Particularly striking is the very early Baroque organ of the Catalan school in the nave of the church; originally built in 1607, it was rebuilt in 1752 and restored in 1977. A euro in a small box near the main door allows you to hear its very distinctive sound. The painted doors, featuring King David and a harpist, are a striking example of a strong Catalan tradition.

Tess Knighton

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