Barcelona. How many pictures come to mind when you read its name? The Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Gaudí, Miró, Tàpies, Picasso, Modernism ... in short, culture. The Catalan capital shows you a very dynamic cultural panorama that make up elements such as museums, exhibition centres, art galleries, ancient Roman and medieval city monuments, and contemporary architecture. In Barcelona this itinerary is put in place to help you get know the cultural essence of Catalonia.
Our culture is expressed in very different ways, including through wine and cava, which have their own museums. You will find them in Penedès, the great wine-mamking region of Catalonia. Even in the time of the Romans the wines of the Penedès were highly regarded beyond the Catalan borders. Many centuries later, since the first bottles were produced in 1872, the cava also began to travel around glasses throughout the world. This reputation has been maintained to this day and has in Vilafranca del Penedès and Sant Sadurní d'Anoia the origin of everything, the capitals of wine and cava, respectively. They are located close to each other, so you can decide where you want to uncork the next stage of the route.
The vineyards connect with the Cistercian Route and Montblanc
Following the trail of the vineyards you will arrive at the Cistercian Route, in Coast Daurada, a tour through three monasteries where the monks of the order of the Cister were established. The route begins in the Santes Creus monastery, founded in 1150, which the only one that at the moment does not host monastic life. It continues with Vallbona de les Monges, which is a female monastery, and then to the monastery of Poblet, declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO.
Another main dish of the Costa Daurada: Montblanc. The city gives off a medieval aroma, as much for its streets as for the imposing wall that surrounds part of it. It was built by Pedro III the Ceremonious and 1.5 kilometres are still maintained, with about thirty towers.
The show of the Priorat
Crossing the mountains of Prades and bordering the mountains of Montsant, the curtain raises on the characteristic abrupt landscape of el Priorat. Since the í80s in this region there has been one of the most special "shows" of the world. The wines have done much for its reputation, but in el Priorat it is worth exploring in depth to discover cultural jewels such as the Cartuja de Escaladei, the first monastery of the order of Sant Bru established throughout the Iberian peninsula. There are also the small villages that it hides, such as Porrera, Morera de Montsant, Gratallops, Bellmunt, Cornudella de Montsant, and Falset.
Wines, history and architecture
With Falset in the rear-view mirror, the road leads you to the cathedrals of wine, named after the ingenuity of playwright ¿ngel Guimerà. In fact, they are modernist wineries such as Pinell de Brai and Gandesa, designed by benchmark architects such as Cèsar Martinell, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and Pere Domènech i Roura. At the same time as you explore these cathedrals you will enter the landscapes that experienced some of the most tragic episodes of the Battle of the Ebro during the Civil War.
Horta de Sant Joan and Picasso
Picasso visited Horta de Sant Joan twice. If this is your first time, take note. The artist took refuge in this corner of Catalonia looking for inspiration in an environment governed by the wild nature of the Els Ports Natural Park, a limestone mountain range, with a steep and abrupt relief. Picasso's legacy in the town lies mainly in the Picasso Centre, a small museum that focuses on the painter's experience in the village, and which displays several reproductions of the artist's works inspired by the municipality.
The capital of Terres de l'Ebre
40 minutes away from Horta you will find Tortosa, the historical capital of Terres de l'Ebre, which preserves an interesting historical heritage, such as the Arab castle of the Suda, the Jewish quarter, and the cathedral of Santa Maria. The Gothic-style religious building was built in 1347 on the remains of a Roman temple, a mosque and a 12th-century Romanesque church. The interior consists of three Gothic naves without a transept, with side chapels.
Sant Carles de la Rpita and gastronomy
Following the course of the river Ebro will take you to Sant Carles de la Rpita, a good place to give you the pleasure of savouring the gastronomy of Terres de l'Ebre. Rice is the star product of the region, prepared in very different ways, but the most precious product there comes from the sea: the prawn. To discover every corner of its aroma, one of the most typical and simple recipes is prawn grilled on sea salt. In addition, the Bay of Alfaques is one of the most important mussel and oyster producing centres in Catalonia. Taste dishes with these molluscs seasoned with sauce, ëa la marineraí, breaded, or au gratin. Finger licking good!
A swig of grand reserve
On the route you will end up savouring a grand reserve. Although on the way you have come to know the Catalan wine-making soul, we are not talking about a wine, but rather of one of the most fascinating natural areas of Catalan geography, the Natural Park of the Delta de l'Ebre. You are stood before the largest aquatic habitat in Catalonia, where you can admire a wide variety of birds, fish, reptiles, etc. It is especially nice to watch a group of flamingos take flight as the sun begins to set, dyeing the scene with a very particular pink light of the area.