Castellfollit de la Roca, a whole town gazing into the abyss

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.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

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

Castellfollit de la Roca, gazing into the abyss| Shutterstock
Castellfollit de la Roca, gazing into the abyss| Shutterstock

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.

San Salvador Church

Castellfollit de la Roca
Entrance to San Salvador Church | Shutterstock

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.

Castellfollit de la Roca
San Salvador Church next to the Josep Pla viewpoint | Shutterstock

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

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

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.

Bridge over the river Fluvià | Shutterstock
Bridge over the river Fluvià | Shutterstock

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.

Castellfollit de la Roca streets | Shutterstock
Castellfollit de la Roca streets | Shutterstock

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.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

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.

Cold Cuts Museum

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.

Vietnam Museum

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

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

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.

Practical Data

Coordinates

42°13′17″N 2°33′03″E

Distances

Girona 49 km, Barcelona 122 km, Madrid 661 km.

Parking

In the surroundings.

Inhabitants

961 (in 2019)

Amongst all the things to see in Castellfollit de la Roca, its festivals stand out. For example, the festival of the Germandat, during the second Easter; the festival of Sant Roc, on August 16 and the Festa Major, on the third Sunday of September. In addition, every Saturday morning the market takes place in the main square, where fresh products are sold.


About the author

Other news of interest
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Who has not ever dreamed of flying? Walking on clouds could become a reality if Más información
The highest cliffs on the European continent are in Galicia. The cliffs of Vixía Herbeira Más información
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Planning what to do in Málaga for three days can be a bit stressful, as Más información
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Balearic and Canary Islands are the best known, but there are many small islands Más información
Castles such as Burgalimar, Gormaz and Vélez-Blanco correspond to what most people imagine in the Más información