El Castell de Gardeny
In the second half of the 12th century, the Templar Order built a conventual complex on the strategic Gardeny plateau. The hill - which before the Christian era had been used as the headquarters of military attacks- was visited by brilliant strategists like Julius Cesar himself, who fought against the Pompeiian Afranius and Petreius, who settled in Ilerda in 49 B.C.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the former medieval enclosure was enlarged and turned into a military fort, whose design would be adapted to the new defensive needs because of the advent of artillery: walls flanked by bastions and surrounded by wide areas, moats and containing walls. The current monumental complex shows the remains of what used to be an imposing fortress.
Castell de Gardeny in Lleida - together with the ones in Miravet, Monzón, Peñíscola and Tortosa- is part of the Templar Domus Templi itinerary. This journey back in time unveils a large part of the Templar heritage and legacy from the former Crown of Aragon.
Casa Templaria in Gardeny (12th - 14th centuries)
Due to the conquest of the city, in 1149, the Templars were granted several properties, as a reward for the help given during the siege, among which there was the Gardeny hill. The first reference to the Gardeny Commander's Headquarters would date back to 1156 and the first commander is reported to have been monk Pere de Cartellà, a personage who would have taken active part in the siege of Lleida.
Thanks to the numerous contributions largely made by nobility, the Casa de Gardeny came to run a large heritage.
In order to manage the different sectors that had been constituted, they soon needed to create new posts of administrators as well as to establish new Commander's Headquarters like the ones in Corbins or Barbens.
As a result of this growth, in the 13th century, the Casa de Gardeny would become one of the principal Templar decision-making centres of the Crown of Aragon.
The monumental complex in Gardeny
The monumental complex in Gardeny is one of the most relevant examples of the Templar architecture built in Catalonia during the second half of the 12th century. Although between the 17th and 18th centuries there were deep changes that would end up altering the old medieval complex, nowadays many buildings of the sovereign enclosure are still preserved. It is an area delimited by walls and flanked by towers, within which the different buildings would be found around a central yard.
Among these buildings we can highlight, on the one hand, the Tower-Room, a solid two-storey construction that had several rooms: storerooms, living rooms or the keep; and on the other hand, the Romanesque church of Santa María de Gardeny, a singular building with a lot of worshippers at the time.