Turismo Prerrománico > Countries > España > SAN CUGAT DEL VALLÉS (R)


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Historic environment

About ten kilometers from Barcelona, and separated from it by the Collserola mountain, is the town of Sant Cugat del Vallès, born around the homonymous monastery founded around the middle of the 9th century. From the 11th century, the Benedictine community already appears fully documented and this order was maintained until the extinction and exclaustration of the monastery in the mid-19th century. From the 11th and 12th centuries, the monastery formed an extensive territorial and legal heritage in various Catalan counties. From this moment is its Romanesque cloister with an excellent collection of sculpted capitals.

Traditionally, the origin of this monastery has been explained based on the place where the martyr from Cucufate, from Barcelona, would have been executed, but for some decades now this assumption has been the subject of review and discussion, since with the available historical and archaeological data it can only be affirmed that In the current monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès, a late-Roman fortification had previously been built and, very shortly afterwards, a Christian basilica (5th century), without it being possible to pronounce with certainty about its old place name, its primitive dedication, its relationship with the martyrdom of Cucufate and the correlation between the early Christian basilica and the monastery documented from the High Middle Ages.

The monastery became extinct in 1835 and the cenobitic church became the seat of the parish of Sant Pere d’Octavià, a condition that is maintained today.

The first archaeological interventions in the medieval monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès, which allowed the discovery of a late-antique Christian building, were carried out in the thirties of the 20th century and were carried out by P. Bosch Gimpera and J. de C. Serra Rafols. The civil war interrupted the excavation work and made it necessary to cover up the exhumed remains, except for the apse of the early Christian temple, which was consolidated and left uncovered. From these first archaeological works, the main results and some subsequent interpretative studies were published, in a very succinct way, as well as investigations on monographic aspects, such as those dedicated to the remains of gates recovered in those first excavations. During 1971-73 and 1990, archaeological excavations were carried out again within the space of the Sant Cugat monastery, but their scientific results are still unpublished.

It was not until 1993-94 that, due to some consolidation works in the monastery, a comprehensive approach was formulated to re-excavate and fully study the remains of the subsoil of the monastery and its relationship with the architectural structures currently in use. These works have also contemplated the reinterpretation of the ancient excavations and their comparison with the most modern data.


In the center of the medieval cloister are the remains of a Christian basilica with a single nave and an apse with a horseshoe interior plan and a pentagonal exterior, built in the middle of the 5th century and located in turn within the perimeter of a small low-imperial fortification built from the second quarter of the fourth century. Next to this temple, and outside the perimeter of the fortification, some structures were built to which no safe function can be attributed, despite the fact that there has been no shortage of hypotheses that a Visigothic monastery was located on the site.

At first, the cult building was made up of a rectangular classroom for funerary purposes, with an adjoining chamber, also a sepulchral one, located in the north corner of the main nave. Inside this chamber two masonry tombs are documented, one of which appeared completely empty when it was excavated. In a second moment, an apse is added to the NE side of the classroom and the internal space of the resulting building is compartmentalized, forming two lateral areas or naves and a narrow central corridor that leads to the presbytery. There is no archaeological material available to date this second phase, with which the apse has been the decisive element when attempting a chronological approximation: the typological parallels correspond to a Visigothic period, as the first archaeologists pointed out at the time. who excavated the building and also the latest archaeologists who have reviewed the data. In a third moment ––corresponding to a remodeling phase of which there is no absolute chronological indication–– the lateral areas and the central corridor built during the second moment are dismantled, so that the nave becomes a single space that is paved with opus signinum; the room in the north corner of the building continues its function as a burial chamber.

Outside the early Christian basilica, a late-antique necropolis has been located, made up of 45 tombs, which does not extended beyond the perimeter of the late imperial fortress, a fact that leads us to believe that the A fortress, apart from its defensive function, could also have acted as a delimiter for the necropolis. As regards the final moments of the building, there is only a brief reference provided by the excavations of the thirties, according to which a level of fire supposedly appeared that covered the structures dating from the Visigothic period.

The presence, during the Low Empire, of a quadrangular fortification of 40 x 40 m has already been mentioned. that has been excavated throughout the 20th century, and part of whose remains can be visited. This late Roman fortification is contemporary with other defensive constructions documented in the Tarraconensis, such as: the walls of Sant Martí d’Empúries, those of Barcelona, or those of Girona. From the very moment of its discovery, this fortification was linked to the medieval place name Castrum Octauianum ––which has traditionally been considered as a supposed Augustan foundation– – where the physical place of the martyrdom of San Cucufate would be located, despite the fact that neither the Peristephanon of Prudencio de Calahorra nor the passio of the martyr Cucufate is referenced to any < i>Castrum Octauianum. This is how the erroneous confluence between the medieval monastery of Sant Cugat, the place of Cucufate’s martyrdom, and the Castrum Octauianum was established.

Jordina Sales-Carbonell for URBS REGIA

Other interesting information

Visiting hours and conditions

Weekdays and Saturday, morning and afternoon (except Monday, which is closed). Sunday mornings only
On weekends, Saturdays at 10am and Sundays at 12pm, guided tours.

€6/€8 guided tours



Artigues Conesa, P. L. et alii, 1996-97: “La fortalesa romana, la basílica i el monestir de Sant Cugat del Vallès o d’Octavià (Catalunya). Les excavacions de 1993-1995”, en Hispània i Roma. D’August a Carlemany. Congrés d’homenatge al Dr. Pere de Palol, vol. II, in: Annals de l’Institut d’Estudis Gironins, 37, 1081-1115.
-Artigues Conesa, P. L. et alii,, 1997a: “Les excavacions al monestir de Sant Cugat del Vallès (1993-1994)”, Tribuna d’Arqueologia 1995-1996, 99-119.
-Artigues Conesa, P. L. et alii, 1997b: “Les excavacions arqueològiques al monestir de Sant Cugat del Vallès o d’Octavià (1993-1994). La fortalesa romana, la basílica i la implantació del monestir”, Gausac, 10, 15-76.
-Miquel Serra, D., 2004: “Els orígens del monestir de Sant Cugat d’Octavià o del Vallès. Repensant teories, sintetitzant coneixements”, Gausac, 24, 11-52.
-Sales Carbonell, J., 2012: “Sant Cugat del Vallès (¿Castrum Octauianum?)”, Las Construcciones cristianas de la Tarraconensis durante la Antigüedad Tardía: Topografía, arqueología e historia, Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, 208-213.


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