The Vall de Boí is a narrow, steep-sided valley and a small municipality in the Spanish province of Lleida, in the autonomous community of Catalonia (also known in Spanish as Valle de Bohí). It lies in the northeastern corner of the comarca of Alta Ribagorça, on the edges of the Pyrenees. It is the largest municipality of the region, with its main town being Barruera.
The valley is best known for its nine Early Romanesque churches, making it the site of the densest concentration of Romanesque architecture in Europe. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 30 November 2000. The valley also includes the highest ski resort in the Pyrenees, at Boí-Taüll, and borders the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park which lies to the northeast.
The valley first belonged to the county of Tolosa, which was joined with the county of Ribagorza. In the 11th century, the valley came into the hands of the county of Pallars, before being annexed by the Kingdom of Aragón in the 12th century. As a result of its strategic position, the valley contains many castles, but they are mostly poorly preserved.
Many of the churches have remained in use for religious worship since they were constructed and consecrated in the 11th and 12th centuries. Nine churches were included in the World Heritage Site: Sant Climent and Santa Maria in Taüll, Sant Feliu in Barruera, Sant Joan in Boí, Santa Eulàlia in Erill la Vall, Santa Maria de l'Assumpció de Cóll, Santa Maria de Cardet, la Nativitat de la Mare de Déu in Durro, and the hermitage of Sant Quirc near Durro.
The valley also contains the ruins of a number of other Romanesque religious buildings, including the churches of Sant Llorenç in Saraís and Santa Martí in Taüll, and the hermitages of Sant Cristòfol in Erill, of Sant Quirc in Taüll, of Sant Salvador in Barruera and of Sant Pere in Boí.
The church of Sant Climent de Taüll was consecrated on 10 December 1123 by the bishop of Roda. It is situated on a slight rise beside the road from Taüll and to Boí. It is the largest and best-preserved church in the Vall de Boí, and also the most architecturally outstanding
The church is laid out as a basilica, with three naves, each separated by an arcade of columns and ending in a semicircular apse. It retains its original double-pitched timber roof. To the southeast of the body of the church stands a six-storey bell tower, with arched windows on each floor. The building is constructed from granite blocks, with decorative elements and windows in pumice. The facades are decorated with friezes and pilasters.
The image of Christ Pantocrator from the church, originally in the main apse and now conserved in the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC), is acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of Romanesque art.
The church was heavily renovated in the 18th century, with a dome added. Its frescoes were moved to MNAC in around 1918. Many 18th century renovations were removed in the 1970s, including the dome.
The church of Sant Joan is situated at the entrance to the village of Boí which gives its name to the valley. The church has three naves, with apses at the eastern ends of the two side names. The original timber roof has been replaced with stone. The bell tower rises to the south of the southern nave. The church was heavily renovated in the 18th century, but many of the renovations were removed in the 1960s. Its paintings were removed in 1919 and taken to MNAC.
The church of the Assumption lies outside the village of Cóll. It was built with a single nave with apse and barrel vault, and consecreated in 1110, and has later Gothic additions. A side-chapel to the north and a later Gothic bell-tower with two storeys to the south create a cruciform floor plan. The interior is lit by oculuses at east and west ends, with the door to the west. The bell tower is in poor repair.
The church was restored in 1983, and the bell tower in 1994.
The small hermitage of Sant Quirc is situated on a rocky outcrop close to Durro. It has a small nave and apse, with an entrance to the south. A short belfry rises at the west end. The roof-space (accessed from the outside) may have been used as a granary.