Monastery of Sant Miquel del Fai


Useful Information

Location: Between Vallès Oriental and Moianès. Bigues i Riells, Catalonia. 50 km from Barcelona. (41.71609, 2.190473)
Open: closed for renovation.
[2020]
Fee: closed for renovation.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church,
Light: electric.
Dimension: A=420m als.
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Monastery of Sant Miquel del Fai, Tel: +34-
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

11-JUN-997 cave where St. Michael the Archangel is worshiped purchased by Gombau de Besora and monastery built.
1006 monastery completed.
08-NOV-1988 declared a Bien de Interés Cultural landmark.
1990 acquired by the company Espai Natural Sant Miquel del Fai SL, a group of entrepreneurs.
22-JUN-2017 purchased by the Diputació de Barcelona and transformed into the Espai Natural de Sant Miquel del Fai (Natural area of Sant Miquel del Fai).
22-JUN-2017 closed for renovation.

Description

The monastery Sant Miquel del Fai was founded by Gombau de Besora, the Lord of Castell de Montbui. He purchased the cave where St. Michael the Archangel is worshiped (speleam suam, cum venerandis titulis que infra sunt, quod est sanctum Michaelem Archangelum) on 11-JUN-997. The monastery was built around the church of Sant Miquel which was incorporated and was completed in 1006. It was inhabited by Benedictine monks between the 10th and 16th century.

The location is unique and quite spectacular, it is located on a rocky ledge between two waterfalls. A group of cliffs, known as Les Cingles de Bertí, forms the escarpment at the end of the valley. The rivers Rossinyol and Tenes flow over the escarpment forming waterfalls. In the middle of the cliff face a wide ledge was formed by a hard layer of limestone due to differential erosion.

The upper Salto del Tenes (waterfall of the Tenes river) has created a sort of small gorge by retrograde erosion, the floor is today the place of a small lake. A cave in the cliff wall allows to walk behind the waterfall, but the cave wet and slippery. Then the water flows over the ledge forming the next waterfall. The monastry was built here on the left side of the river. After crossing the river you can reach the waterfalls of the Rossinyol river which offer a spectacular view on the monastery, the escarpment, and the valley.

The Church of Sant Miquel was built inside a cave. The cave ceiling forms the roof of the church which is the largest rock church in Spain. There is also a small crypt below the church which is accessed through a staircase located at the entrance.

There are numerous small caves with trails built through. The Cueva de Sant Miquel (Cave of Sant Miquel) has stalactites, stalagmites and also small lakes. The Lake of the Monges is hidden under a rock between the waterfall of the Tenes River and the hermitage of Sant Martí. The biggest cave is called Cova de Les Tosques (Cave of the Tosques) and has narrow passages, stairs and lakes, and various speleothems. The trail is well developed and there is electric light.

The whole ensemble and the surrounding land with an area 70.5 ha was purchased by the Diputació de Barcelona on 22-JUN-2017. It was transformed into the Espai Natural de Sant Miquel del Fai (Natural area of Sant Miquel del Fai). It was immediately closed for overdue renovations. The monastery was owned by a private company since 1990 and in this 27 years it was visited by 1.4 Million people. There were various renovations and conservation actions.