Modern Cloisters of Valira Park - Atlas Obscura

Modern Cloisters of Valira Park

La Seu d'Urgell, Spain

This parody of ecclesiastical cloisters features famous figures from the 20th century.  


Along the banks of the Valira River, which makes up the western border of Valira Park, lies a set of cloisters, unusual in that they are detached from any building. What makes these cloisters even more unusual is that they do not feature saints and demons, but rather famous people from the modern era. Figures such as Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, and Sigmund Freud adorn the capitals of the pillars. The famous scene of Marilyn Monroe with her skirt blowing up is among the most recognizable and iconic features. 

The modern cloisters even feature a pillar of fascist dictators, appearing in the same way grotesques are in normal cloisters. Obviously the move to include these figures was controversial, and one famous dictator’s face has since been smashed in.

The cloisters were designed by local architect Lluís Racionero, and built in 1990. They are a replica of the cloisters in the Cathedral of La Seu d’Urgell, just a 15-minute walk away. These medieval cloisters are well-known for depictions of grotesques, animals, and plants. Unfortunately, in the Valira Park cloisters, only two pillars along each wall are decorated. Still, it is quite fun to try and identify the characters on each one. 

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November 13, 2023

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