Cataluña covers the area from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean like a huge trail of charms which has seduced thousands of visitors. Cataluña is fortunate to have the most varied landscapes, from the high mountains to its paradisiacal beaches, along with a top-class historical and cultural heritage. Although this region has been inhabited by mankind for a very long time, one can still find areas to penetrate into the heart of nature thanks to its extensive forests and its popular mountains. Discover the best wonders of Cataluña on this tour of the region.
Despite the fact that Barcelona offers most of the attractions of Cataluña in a small space, the artistic legacy of the great modernist architects is still the prominent highlight. A visit to the creations of Gaudí, a World Heritage Site is crucial: the Sagrada Familia and the colourful beauty of its stained-glass windows, as well as Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, and Park Güell. Some other important modernist houses in Barcelona are Casa Amatller or Casa de les Punxes, both by Puig i Cadafalch. And let’s not forget the third greatest artist of modernism, Domènech i Montaner, architect of Hospital de Sant Pau, his largest modernist site, and Palau de la Música Catalana. All these buildings will take you back to an era of economic and artistic strength of great taste.
Montserrat is the mountain massif that stands tall with strange shapes in the middle of a plain which has always fascinated Cataluña. Its patron saint is the famous black virgin, whose sanctuary is a place so full of meaning that it’s impossible not to feel something special when seeing it. Visiting Monsterrat is a complete experience, because of its spiritual, artistic and cultural attributes. It is also an outstanding natural park full of wildlife and a paradise for hikers and climbers.
Berga is a small town in the heart of Cataluña, and every year it hosts one of the biggest shows of all the popular festivals which also coincides with Corpus Christi. La Patum is the big sister of all fire-related celebrations in Cataluña, an explosion of light and pyrotechnics that connects each participant with their most ancestral side. Having more than 600 years of history, the protagonists of this festival are dance and fire, but there are also parades, troupes and frightening “beasts” such as the eagle, the giants or the Guites. There is also space for fascinating shows such as the salt de plens, a dance in which the participants go around the square under a multitude of sparkling flares.
Like Montserrat, Poblet has one of the greatest heritage treasures in Cataluña, the monastery of the same name, along with a natural park at an unbeatable location. The Poblet Natural Park is located on the northern slope of the Prades Mountains, the green heart of the province, and is a luxury for active tourism. The Poblet Monastery, founded in the 12th century, is a landmark of Cistercian art, a World Heritage Site and is also one of those enclaves of enormous symbolic value in Cataluña. The Gothic cloister, the chapter house or the different chapels make a glorious vision of a world of meditation and silence that is still exists today.
Tarraco, one of the main Roman cities on the Peninsula, remains a prominent legacy of this civilisation in Cataluña. There are many spots in this city where one can get fully immersed in Ancient Rome, however, one of the most remarkable ones is the so-called Paseo Arqueológico (“Archaeological Walk”), a landscaped path from where we can see the walls, the Tower of Minerva and some statues from those times. The other essential places are the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona, the forum and, of course, the amphitheatre, which can easily take us to the terrible world of gladiators.
The capital of has one of the best-preserved historic centres in Europe, and walking through its streets is a journey to a medieval city full of corners, alleys and unforgettable sights. Along with the tradition to kiss the Romanesque lioness’ ass, the visit reveals wonders such as the cathedral, with its monumental staircase, the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants or the Arab Baths, a mixture of Romanesque and Andalusian style. The Jewish quarter of Girona, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Spain, and proof of the relevance that the Jewish community had in our society.
The Costa Brava practically covers the entire coastline of the province, and has so many wonders that it is impossible to choose one. Therefore, the best way to dive into its charms is to walk some section of its Caminos de Ronda, the ancient paths that served to monitor possible pirate incursions and that allow us to admire this often-abrupt coastline, always full of beauty and extraordinary coves. From Lloret or Tossa to Cabo de Creus, this entire route offers superb views and breathtaking fascinating.
The Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park is the only one of its kind in Cataluña, a sensational high mountain natural environment with almost 200 lakes. The routes that one can walk through the area are endless, and hide treasures such as the Romanesque churches of the Bohí Valley, declared a World Heritage Site, and that allow us to peek into the millenary spirituality of these populations. You don’t have to be a fan of Romanesque to fall in love with the charm of these churches, the imposing proximity of the mountains and the breathtaking landscapes near them.
Built on a hill, next to the Segre River, the Seu Vella or old cathedral dominates the entire city of Lleida and is its most famous icon. Although it abandoned its religious functions long ago, it is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Spain, and the ancient temple continues to impress with its grandiose sense of religiosity and the architectural beauty it displays, a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic lines. Particularly, the rich tracery of the cloister’s arches is one of its most accomplished elements, and they also allow us to contemplate the entire expanse of fields around it. Therefore, while Lleida is known as the city of fog, Seu Vella will forever be associated with light.