Although both the city and the church of Manresa are already mentioned in documents from the ninth century, we must go back to the year 1020 in order to discover the origin of what they are today. After almost two decades of the destruction of the city, on July 15th of that year Countess Ermessenda and Bishop Oliba restored the parish boundaries and possessions of Santa Maria of Manresa, including a series of nearby churches. In this way, they provided the means for the maintenance of a community of canons and, later, for the construction of a new Romanesque church next to the castle of Puig Cardener. The town eventually grew up around it.
Popularly known as the “Romanesque cloister of the Seu”, this area contains important evidence of the recovery which began a thousand years ago. The four large semi-circular arches on the lower level, made of small ashlars, may well date from the same eleventh century. The four upper arches are smaller but more elaborate, with larger, well-squared ashlars, pairs of columns, and capitals carved with simple vegetal motifs. They were probably built in the twelfth century and indicate that the floor level of the Romanesque church and canonry was very similar to its level today.
On the 15th of July 2020, the basilica opened “Espai Oliba” to visitors to celebrate the Millenium of the visit of Bishop Oliba and Countess Ermessenda.
The neoclassical cloister, located in an upper level, is from the 18th century. Four galleries with semicircular archs built on pillars and stone corbels compose it. The doorway, crowned by an ogee arch, is very interesting.In this area there are several and notable pieces of art such as the original tympanum of the Romanesque front.