The Valle di Boi
WORLD HUMANITY HERITAGE
This is one of the most secluded regions of Catalonia, situated in the heart of the Pyrenean chain, not far from the Val d’Aran, on the road which links Viella with Lérida. It was once part of the contado of Ribagorza. The valley today belongs to the vast township of Barruera, which includes the communes of Barruera, Boi, Cardet, Coll, Durro, Erill la Val, Sarrais and Taull. Each of these centres contains a church and various isolated chapels, thereby giving the Valle di Boi a total of fifteen Romanesque churches, five of which are of particular note. In view of the excellence of its monuments, their density over such a limited area, and the fine quality of the paintings contained in them UNESCO has registered the Valle di Boi as an area of World humanity heritage
A SERIES OF CHURCHES …. AND SPLENDID PAINTINGS
The church of greatest note is that of Saint Clement di Tahull. The building is of basilica plan features naves separated by columns, with trussed roof and triple apse decorated with pilaster strips and small blind arches in typically Lombard style. To the south-east end is an elegant 6-storey bell tower, with a series of single, twin or triple windows. It was consecrated in 1123.The wonderful series of Romanesque paintings which adorned the walls were moved to Barcellona museum in 1922, to safeguard them against the risk of theft. The paintings have now been replaced by fine quality copies.
Taull also has another fine church that of Santa Mary, located at the centre of the township. Having the same layout as Saint Clement, with an identical bell tower, but not in the same position. This church also was lavishly decorated with paintings, which were also moved to Barcellona.
The church of Saint Joan de Boi, has the same features as the other two. Once again the wall paintings have been removed and identical copies made.
We must also cite the beautiful churches of Santa Eulaila of Erill la Vall, the Nativitat of Durro, classified as historic monuments like the other two, as well as Sant Feliu di Barruera, Santa Maria di Coll and Santa Maria di Cardet.
A TIMELESS VALLEY
Whilst the above- mentioned monuments are fine examples of Romanesque art, their attraction is further enhanced by their magnificent setting. In villages which appear to have been forgotten by time, thereby conserving their intrinsic authenticity, not to mention the spectacular mountain landscapes protected by a national park.
Although the decision to remove the wall paintings from their original churches and chapels may be open to criticism, it is nevertheless true that there was no other way to protect them against the unscrupulous greed of traders and collectors.
However thanks to the modern techniques used, the copies on view in these churches today are almost as good as the originals.