Turismo Prerrománico > Countries > España > SANTA MARGARIDA DEL CAIRAT


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To our friend Xavier Riera Camps, Pre Romanesque Art lover and expert in High Medieval Miniature, who has let us know this hermitage and has furnished us with a great part of the information and photographs used for this file

Previous notes

  • Small hermitage formed by a nave and an apse, a very usual structure in the Pre Romanesque period, both sides of the Pyrenees.
  • The most ancient documentation we know about Santa Margarida is from 1205, when Ramón de Guàrdia, Lord of Esparraguera, makes in his will a donation of ten sueldos (Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragò. Barcelona, Cartulary of San Cugat del Vallès, page 195r).
  • It was restored in 1965 under the direction of the architect D. José María Perleas, with the collaboration of Eduard Iunvent, stripping off the elements that had been added to its structure.


The small church of St. Margarida de Cairat is located within the municipal district of Esparraguera (Baix Llobregat, Barcelona), far from the city centre, at the end of the Santa Margarida de Cairat: Vista general de la ermitamountains of Rubió and just at the entrance of the canyon of Cairat on the right bank of the river Llobregat. It is a rural construction of Pre Romanesque origin modified during the Romanesque period and restored in 1965 by the owner family under the direction of Eduard Iunvent.

The hermitage is formed by just one rectangular nave and an apse, both covered with a barrel vault oriented canonically although the axe of its apse with squared base presents a deviation of less than fifteen degrees towards north to adjust it to the soil orography where it was built. At present, its only access is through a door that opens towards west but there are clear signs of a door on he south lateral wall, as it was usual with Mozarabic churches.

The homogeneous apparatus in the whole building is made of irregular stones except in the corners where larger and better disposed elements may be perceived.

The inside is remarkable for the horseshoe arch that confers it a clearly Pre Romanesque character. Access Santa Margarida de Cairat: planta según Eduardo Junyentis gained by three steps that make the floor of the nave lower than the outside. The apse is leveled one step with regard to the nave’s floor. There are not any sculptoric elements worth mentioning. Two small windows on the eastern and southern walls provide some light to the church. The lateral walls are reinforced by blind horseshoe shaped arches, similar to the arch that gives way to the apse, that in a way recalls the round of arches of St. Miguel de Cuxá.

In St. Margarida we can distinguish three different building phases, although the first two are very close.

  • In the first one, of which the whole structure has been preserved, the nave was covered by a wooden roof. Due to the characteristics of the triumphal arch as wellSanta Margarida de Cairat: Vista de la cabecera as for the fact that the initial door was on the southern side, we think it is a work oth the times of the repopulation at the end of the 9th or beginning of the 10th centuries.

  • In the second one, almost immediate to the former one, the lateral walls were reinforced to cover the nave with a barrel vault, building blind arches of the same type of the one that gives way to the apse, attached to each lateral wall, and the primitive Pre Romanesque door was walled up and a new entrance was made on the wall opposite to the apse.

  • Later, possibly by the end of the Romanesque period, this new door was replaced by the semicircular arch with very regular voussoirs that still survive.

There is a small bell tower. A commemorative head stone in Latin was placed in remembrance of the last restoration. A new altar was consecarted. Nowadays it is owned by the proprietors of the attached country house of Can Paloma.Santa Margarida de Cairat: Acceso actual en el lado oeste For the last years a mass is celebrated on the sunday closest to St. Margarida’s day. Recently it has suffered some damage in the entrance door due to a fire, possibly provoked.

It is also known as St. Margarida Saplanca del Cairat. The term Saplanca referred to a bridge or a lever that would have served to cross the river Llobregat at the point of Cairat’s narrow pass, in which proximities the remains of an Andalusian bridge of the Emirate period have been preserved.

Another interesting fact is that in Esparraguera there were other two Pre Romanesque churches, St. María de Puig, remains of an apse of that period have been found within the present Romanesque church, and St. Coloma de la Gorgonçana, of which there is some information since the year 964 but it is now disappeared.

Other interesting information

Access: Located in Esparraguera, at 42.8 Km from Barcelona, direction Monserrat, within the farmhouse of Can Paloma on the old road from Esparraguera to Monistrol de Monserrat. GPS Coordinates : 41°34?5?N 1°51?58?E.



L’art pre-romànic a Catalunya. Segles IX-X: Xavier Barral i Altet. (Edicions 62, Barcelona,1981)
Les esglésies pre-romàniques al Baix Llobregat: Montserrat Pagès i Paretas. Institut d’Estudis Catalans


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