Castellfollit de la Roca is a municipality that belongs to the region of La Garrocha, in the province of Girona. It is part of the judicial district of Olot and has a surface area of barely one square kilometre, making it the smallest municipality in the province and the second in Catalonia. It is worth noting the basalt quarry in this town, as it is the only one currently active in Spain. The quarry began its activity in 1929, although there are archives that document its existence since 1887.
However, the most fascinating thing about Castellfollit de la Roca is its location. It is located on a large basalt cliff no less than 50 metres high and almost a kilometre long. This cliff is also cut off by the River Fluvià. The town is inside the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
A town gazing into the abyss
Castellfullit de la Roca is located within the La Garrocha Volcanic Zone Natural Park. Set on a basaltic ridge, the location of this town is quite unique. This cliff, which is more than 50 metres high, is the result of the layering of two lava flows which, when they solidify, give rise to the very hard rock known as basalt. On the one hand, the first one is 217,000 years old. It comes from Batet de la Serra, in Olot. On the other hand, the second is 192,000 years old and is the result of the eruption of the San Juan les Fonts volcanoes.
The narrow streets of the town converge on the old church of San Salvador, located at one end of the cliff. Here you will also find a viewpoint with privileged views. The church dates from the 13th century, although the current building has undergone several remodelling works. It is built in a late Renaissance style.
It has a square bell tower and has openings on each side. The bell tower is crowned by a dome decorated with small pilasters. It still preserves several reused basalt ashlars and a late Romanesque window. As for the interior of the church of San Salvador; it should be noted that it is currently used as a cultural centre where temporary exhibitions are held.
Walking the streets of Castellfollit de la Roca
The old town of Castellfollit de la Roca is of medieval origin and is located on a basaltic ridge formed by two overlapping lava flows. It is made up of narrow streets of medieval origin. Most of the houses here were built with rocks and volcanic stones from the region.
From the footbridge over the river Fluvià you can see the magnificent cliff with the town on it. Returning to the walk, various points of tourist interest in the town are signposted in Braille.
Privileged are the views from the Josep Pla square-viewpoint, located at the end of the town, once you pass the church of San Salvador. It is perfect to enjoy good panoramic views of the area and to understand the strategic situation of the town and its natural characteristics for defense. The cemetery was located at this end until 1961, when it was closed and moved.
Near the old town, along the rivers Fluvià and Toronell, there is an area of small orchards cultivated by the people of Castellfollit. The route next to these orchards is part of a pedestrian route through the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. In it you can get to know the basalt wall and elements of industrial archaeology better. This refers to locks and canals that send water to the Can Xaudiera and Can Mulleras factories with the aim of producing hydroelectric power.
Somewhat far from the old town is the clock tower, located in Sant Roc Square, where the Town Hall is also located. At the top there is a clock, which marks the rhythm of life in the village, and a bell tower. At the foot of the tower there is a fountain. This clock is the result of a promise made by a monarchist from La Garrotxa who was a member of parliament in 1919-1920. If the people supported him by voting for him, he would give them a clock as a present. The people voted for him and the clock was finished in 1925.
In Castellfollit de la Roca it is possible to visit the Cold Cuts Museum, opened in 1993. It has a permanent exhibition that explains the history of meat preservation. In this way, the museum displays tools used to prepare meat throughout different historical periods, as well as old photographs, old machines, explanations of the home-made slaughter… Entrance to the museum is free and with it you can enjoy a tasting of some of the most typical products of the Cormarca.
This is unique equipment in all of Europe. A private collection that includes all kinds of pieces such as uniforms, material and equipment related to the Vietnam War of 1960.
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park
Castellfollit de la Roca is the entrance to the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. This park is the best example of volcanic landscape found in the Iberian Peninsula, and also one of the most important in Europe. It covers some 12,000 hectares in which more than 40 volcanic cones and 20 lava flows have been identified. Although it is an inactive volcanic area, it is not extinct, as the last eruptions occurred between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago. That is why it can be considered recent. Known for its landscape, in the natural park of La Garrotxa you can see green forests covering it almost completely.