It had been many years since I visited the monastery of Scala Dei, I was very young and went with my father. It was completely derelict and when walking around you were in fear of rocks falling on your head! After my last visit, I was pleased to see that this important Catalan religious center has been restored. The restoration has been worth it and for a small fee (€ 3), you can go inside. It is located in the Priorat region and takes its name from the old priory of Scala Dei. It was founded in the twelfth century and is the first Spanish monastery. The site was chosen for the austere and contemplative life of the monks, isolated completely from the world to fulfill their celibate and meditative duties. The place was abandoned and was totally ruined. Today, walking through what remains of this monastery, one realises the immensity of the place. It has three cloisters, one of which is impressively large.
This natural park is located in the Priorat region in the province of Tarragona. The protected area covers an area of 9500 hectares spread over several municipalities, but Morera de Montsant is the information center of the park. The terrain is very rough, consisting of a large set of natural walls and unique rock formations. The difficulty of access means that there is little tourism in the area, making it a haven of calm and peace rare in a natural park. It has managed to retain a rich community of typical Mediterranean plants and fauna. An amazingly quiet place to really unwind.
Surrounded by a landscape carpeted with vineyards, Scala is a lovely square with some old houses. The village is nestled in the heart of the Priorat, where life revolves around wine and olive oil. One of its oldest buildings is Cellers Scala Dei, where the monks used to live. Visiting the winery is a wonderful experience. Among barrels of French and American oak in a vaulted stone cellar whose walls are over a meter thick, Fernando (my guide) told me the story of the wines of the region. "There was a time," he said, "in the Priorat when it was considered that wine gave strength to those who drank it. Today, wine from these wine cellars is sold out worldwide ". To conclude the visit, Fernando invited me to have a glass of wine with him. As it was early, we enjoyed the young Scala Dei Negre, a wine with an intense violet hue with aromas of ripe red fruits. Unforgettable.
The clot of cirerer is one of the most emblematic features of Montsant Natural Park (Tarragona). It is situated in the heart of the Sierra del Montsant, near the village of La Morera de Montsant. It is a green oasis amid the aridity of the Serra Major. Today, in the midst of the ravine, there is a walnut tree. Long ago, there was a cherry tree in the same place and this is where its name came from. Shepherds used to bring their flocks there to drink water. The watering holes that they used still remain to this day. It is a very interesting place.
In 1954, the castle was dismantled in order to pave the town streets. The parish church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and retains its Romanesque Façade with three arches. It was extended in the eighteenth century, giving it a Latin cross. Nearby, you can also find the renowned Certosa Monastery Escaladei and Bonrepòs, the hermitage of Santa Maria.
The Cugat Pi is one of the few trees that has survived in the mountains of Montsant. It is located in the heart of the Sierra del Montsant (Tarragona). You can get there from the village of La Morera de Montsant. We found it on the path to Clot del Cirerer.
The old footpaths of this abandoned monastery, also lead to an imposing wall of peaks. Around this tour you can stop at the wineries of the small town Scala Dei and try some of the famous wines of Priorat. Tarragona Cottages.