The first monastery of the Order of Saint Bruno established on the Iberian peninsula. Today it is possible to walk around the compound and see the vestiges of the church and the main cloister, as well as one of the cloister cells, which was recently reconstructed.
Situated in a valley close to the foot of the Montsant mountain range, the Carthusian Monastry of Santa Maria Escaladei was the first monastery of the Sant Bru order to be set up in the whole of the Iberian Penninsula.
In 1194, King Alfons I el Cast donated this place of silence and solidarity, surrounded by nature, to the Carthusian Monks, with the aim that they would help to repopulate the areas that had been seized by the Saracens.
The early years of the 13th century served so that the Carthusians could gain, with the help of donations from Jaume I, the command of and jurisdiction over those living in Morera de Montsant, Gratallops, Torroja del Priorat, Porrera and la Vilella Alta, and gave rise to the so called Priorat Histórico region.
The Carthusian monks built the basic parts of the monastery in a style that was a transition between Roman and Gothic, such as the Santa Maria church (1228), the royal cloister (o maius), the dozen cells around it, the chapter house, the refectory, the small cloister (calledde recordationis) and several chapels, as well as several algunas services buildings.
Subsequently, thanks to the royal protection and the prestige ascribed to the Carthusian order, the group of buildings was increased and its capacity multiplied with a new Gothic cloister (1333) and twelve more cells. An extension that was completed in 1403 with the building of a final Flemish-Gothic style cloister.
The 16th, 17th and 18th centuries brought a classical and baroque aire to the monastery for the reforms that they carried out. The culture and the agriculture, especially wine, underwent a significant growth thanks to the activities and contributions of the Escaladei monks.
The cenobium was abandoned with the fue abandonado con la seizure of Mendizábal in 1835 and today is in an advanced preservation and restoration process so that it can be visited.
It is possible to pass through the site of the monastery and admire the architecture of the facades, arches, paving and walls. There are the church vestries and the main cloister as well as one of the cells of the order recently rebuilt and set out as if it would have been when a head monk was living there.