Valbuena Abbey was founded in 1143 by Estefanía, daughter of Count Ermengol V of Urgell, and settled from Berdoues Abbey in France, of the filiation of Morimond. Valbuena received a number of privileges shortly after its foundation, and flourished to the point where it was able to settle three daughter houses of its own.
In the 14th century a decline set in. Valbuena remained a daughter house of Berdoues until 1430, when the Castilian Cistercian Congregation was established; thereafter it was a daughter house of Poblet Abbey.
The abbey was dissolved under the anti-ecclesiastical Mendizábal government in 1835.
The church became a parish church. The conventual buildings passed into private ownership and were eventually acquired by a Baron Kessel, who sold them to Juan Pardo, who looked after them until 1950, when the Instituto Nacional de Colonización acquired the site and buildings for settlement purposes. In 1967 the Archdiocese of Valladolid took possession of the monastery buildings, and in 1990 leased them to the foundation Las Edades del Hombre.
The building complex, which was more or less complete by 1230, and most of which still stands, comprises the church, built from 1149 onwards, the conventual buildings, the guest wing, dormitories and the lay brothers' area. The groin-vaulted church of three aisles in four bays, with a barrel-vaulted transept and a crossing which was heightened in the Renaissance and covered with a cupola, is largely in accordance with the usual Cistercian building practice. The church also has an unusually large semi-circular apse, between two smaller semi-circular side apses, and also a rectangular side-chapel, built in 1165. The nave is in the early Gothic style. The west front has a portal with a pointed arch and several archivolts, over which is a large oculus in a blind arch.
The chapter house and the day room are also groin-vaulted, while the refectory on the south side of the complex has a pointed barrel-vaulted roof of four bays. The cloister has two storeys. The Capilla San Pedro chapel contains an arcosolium with a mural of a king from the period of around 1270. The lay brothers' wing was removed in the Renaissance to make room for a second courtyard. By the river stand the ruins of the abbot's house, dating from the 16th century.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.