Landscape sculpture Project «The Forest of the Stylites»

December 31, 2020
The Forest of the Stylites is a sculpture project in the landscape of the walking or cycling route that links the three Cistercian monasteries: Poblet, Santes Creus and Vallbona de les Monges. It is made up of a set of sculptures, the stylites, representations of human figures placed on columns, and built in reinforced concrete, by the artist Mateo Vilagrasa, which in this way make up a forest of art. The total height of each of the sculptures is 3.80 m, which is the sum of the height of the column (3.20 m) and that of the figure (0.60 m).

The work symbolizes while paying homage to the first anchorites, religious who sought perfection and communication with God in solitude, on the fringes of society, either in abandoned huts, the hermits, or on columns, the stylites. Its location reproduces what could be its original location, such as the route of the monasteries. In this sense, the work intends to reproduce the journey or, rather, the walk of the solitary towards the convent, evoking in some way the history of the monasteries themselves.

The origin of the project dates back to 1996, and addressed the issue of loneliness and autism. Hence, its title was “Autistic Forest” (set of 49 sculptures forming a 14 x 14 m square). In 2002 it took shape in an urban public sculpture project for the city of Munich, but it was not finally carried out. It is in 2005, as a result of setting up his workshop in the Convent of Sant Llorenç de Vila-rodona, that Vilagrasa decides to move the project to the countryside and specifically to the Cistercian route, in such a way that autistic people become stylites.

The Forest of the Stylites was born from the conviction of its author that art is not the exclusive heritage of cities. The project was truncated due to the accident that the artist suffered in 2006, which left him quadriplegic. He died in November 2018 without seeing his project carried out, so it is the Foundation that bears his name that assumes the challenge of fulfilling his wish. In fact, and in a prescient way, it could be interpreted as the artist’s legacy to the place where he lived and worked the last years of his active life.


With the support of the Department of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya
December 31, 2020


Educational activities on The Forest of the Stylites


Actividades pedagógicas entorno a El bosque de los estilitas
Actividades pedagógicas entorno a El bosque de los estilitas

1-Sculpture workshop for Art students

Two sessions:

  •  Assistance to the production of the Stylite figure in the sculptor’s workshop
  •  Assistance to the placement of the sculpture in the previously selected site

Students attend the production process of the sculpture’s figure (Stylite), made of reinforced concrete, specifically the process of assembling and disassembling the silicone mold made from its original prototype by Mateo Vilagrasa.

They also have the chance to attend the subsequent placement of the sculpture, that is, its fitting onto the column, previously placed on the base in its final location.

2-School tour for Photography students

Students are given the opportunity to visit the Stylites Route, specifically their locations, and to photograph it, putting into practice the knowledge learned in class, as well as exercising their creative ability. 

The possibility of making a selection of the best photographs to be exhibited in the educational center can be studied.

Complementary activities on The Forest of the Stylites

Two biennials:

  • Biennial of Sculpture in the landscape addressed specifically to artists of the territory
  • Biennial of Photography on The Forest of the Stylites Route by Mateo Vilagrasa addressed particularly to professionals and amateurs of the territory