OVER THE BORDER
Above the gleaming white fishing town of Port de la Selva, in the province of Girona, stands the Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes constructed into the side of the Verdera mountain.
The views from the monastery are superb, stretching over the bay of Llançà, from Cerbère in France to the Cap de Creus. Constructed by the Benedictines between 979 and 1022, the monastery was sacked and abandoned in the eighteenth century and its most important treasure, an illustrated bible, is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.
The impressive bell tower, lookout tower and church all dating from the XII century remain and can be visited. The church with its soaring columns and intricate carving on the capitals is both grand and peaceful. There is a canteen and a good bookshop as well as a study centre.
The first official mention of the monastery originates from the year 878 although a pot pourri of legend surrounds its creation. Some say that when Rome was threatened by Barbarians, Pope Boniface IV ordered the Church’s most powerful relics – including the head and right arm of St. Peter – to be hidden. They were brought to this remote Cape for safe-keeping and hidden in a cave. However, when the danger had passed the relics couldn’t be found. A monastery was duly built on the site and dedicated to St. Peter (Pere in Catalan).
Walkers can reach the monastery via the GR10, from the campsite at Port de la Selva (approx 2hrs there and back) with access by car for the less energetic. Above the monastery, a further twenty minutes climb brings you to the ruined castle of Saint Salvador de Verdera from which the views of the Bay of Roses and the whole of the Cap Creus are breathtaking. It is fun to drive the coast road from the Côte Vermeille to Port de la Selva and to return to France via Figueres.