The place where a new monastic community would be established was not chosen at random: it was not a matter of chance. Aesthetic, geographical, climatic, social, political, economic and religious factors were taken into consideration in order to assure the subsistence of the community in good times and bad. The priory of Escaladei was founded in the year 1194 by the king of Catalonia Alfons I the Chaste, but in 1151 there had already been a small community of monks living in the town of Poboleda where, among other things, they had probably been appraising the natural advantages of the area. What were these advantages?
Located in the south of Catalonia between the mountains of the coastal and pre-coastal ranges, El Priorat is a land of hills and slopes formed by rich slate substrates, situated along both banks of the river Siurana and facing the four points of the compass, with an average altitude of 350 meters. In this harsh terrain, crops benefit from an extraordinarily rich soil and a microclimate that is formed by the imposing Montsant mountains, a natural barrier of 1,166 meters in height that regulates the temperature of the region, sheltering it from the inclement weather which arrives from the north. The combination of all these factors –climate, mountains and soil (slate)– provide some clearly distinctive organoleptic characteristics that give Priorat wine the unique personality acknowledged by enologists and sommeliers from around the world.
Consequently, the landscape here shelters pines, holm oaks, Mediterranean hackberries, poplars, rosemary, thyme, blackberry, savory, grapevines, almond, fig and carob trees and many other species of plants , and it is inhabited by eagles, roe deer, rabbits, partridges, crows, ocellated lizards and wild boar, all of which combine to form a countryside of unique beauty and spirituality.