To reach the Sanctuary you can walk through Torrent Street, that leads to one of the city entry gates, very close to the castle, or by the so called "Viacrucis", about Sant Miquel's (San Michael) Bridge. With any vehicle can arrive there through a diversion in Tremp Road, that will carry us to the "Pla d'Almatá" (Almata Plain), where there are also the quarter of the firemen, a high school, the "Castell Formós" and a park. The Sanctuary is open every day, within usual visit hours (closed at noon and nights)
The Sanctuary of the Holy Christ was built on the ancient church of Almatá, former Great Saracen Mosque, that was destroyed during the war years between Moors and Christian. It was promised by count Ermengol IV of Gerb, before the fall of Balaguer in his hands. In the year 1105, when the city was definitely conquered, it was rebuild. It was called St. María of Almatá (in worship of the Virgin of the same name) and it was parish until the year 1351 in which was converted in conventual church of the Clarisas Nuns.
The first restoration, begun in the year 1610, consisted of the demolition of the walls, the opening of the current principal door and the transfer of the Great Altar from the place where was - current door towards the river - to the place where it is now. Of the ancient Virgin of Almáta's church we can still see remains of the ancient door with a rossette (currently walled) in the lateral that gives to the gardened zone.
After the 22 of March of 1626, when the image of the Holy Christ was moved to the new Great Altar the church changed his former name and was known as Holy Christ's Church. In 1787 there was such an abundance of worshipers that began the second and definitive amplification of the church in its current form, except for the facade, that was not as sumptuous as now, since it had a single rossette in the center and a small belfry.
In the year 1912 began the current facade construction, of hammered stone, work of the architect from Barcelona Bernat Pejoan. In the year 1930 was finished and was begun also the road between the Sanctuary and Tremp Road and the stations of the Via Crucis. In 1951 was built the altarpiece and the Great Altar and was paved the principal nave. In the year 1972 took place the renovation of the presbytery.
It's said that this image was the first that was made in the world. The author was Nicodemus, who having engraved in his mind the image of Christ in the cross, decided to sculpt it. Once made the body he didn't find the way of sculpting the face, thing that was made by the angels while he was sleeping. This image stayed many years in Jerusalem. When this city fall to the Muslims it was transported to Beirut, where it was found by the Muslims, who threw it to the Adonis river. The crucifix went down the river to the Mediterranean sea and, furrowing seas and rising rivers, arrived to Balaguer, where it stopped in sight of the Clarisas Nuns' monastery.
The devotion to this image increased very quickly. It was said that he cured diseases and made other marvels. To the Holy Christ people went, and go, to seek the spiritual peace, the corporal health and in moments of calamities and misfortunes. The Saint Christ of Balaguer has received the visit of many personalities, between those which can emphasize the Kings of Spain, Felipe IV (22 of March of 1626) and Alfonso XIII (5 of July of 1924).
The image was burnt during the last Spanish Civil War. The current image is a work by the sculptor Joaquín Ros and it is a copy of the ancient image. It is made of Flandes wood and his left foot is the remaining of the old image, saved from the flames.
If you have time enough you can walk in the gardens, go to the forest park that is beside of the archeological park in the Pla d'Almatà (Almata Planin) or visit the "Castell Formós" ( Beautiful Castle).
Beside the Sanctuary is the Santa Clara Monastery where lives a community of Clarisas Nuns. Next to the convent there is a Diocesan Spirituality House and in its lower floor there is a restaurant opened to the public.
Church of "Sta. Maria" (St. Mary). Art at St. Mary's. Walls and Gates.
Ancient Neighborhood. "Mercadal" (Market) Square. Jewish Neighborhood.
"Castell Formós" ( Beautiful Castle). Sanctuary of the "Sant Crist" (Holy Christ).
Convent of "Sant Domènec" (St. Dominic). "Davant Balaguer" ( Modern Neighborhood).