Barcelona is the prelude to this trip to discover the Pyrenees of Catalonia. The Catalan capital always has something to discover in any corner. For example, a short distance away from the centre you have three modernist icons such as Park Güell, the Modernist Site of Sant Pau, and the world-famous Sagrada Familia. While touring other more central streets, you will find monuments such as La Pedrera and Santa Maria del Mar, vestiges of the ancient Roman city of Barcino. To experience all the splendour of the city you also have to visit its museums, such as those of Picasso, the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, and the National Art Museum of Catalonia, walk along the Ramblas to the beach on a sunny day, and book a table in a restaurant to savour the Catalan cuisine. Come and enjoy it. And the route, too.
Catalonia's industrial past
Your journey starts from the capital, heading North to enter the Costa Barcelona, which preserves some Romanesque jewels, such as the monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès, and the Catalan industrial past. The textile sector was for more than a century the economic engine of Terrassa and also activated cultural movements such as Modernism and the Noucentisme. Even today, mNATEC is a paradigm of this industrial and cultural binomial, a museum of the city that revives the Catalan industrial past housed in an old modernist factory. But in Terrassa you can travel even further back in time. Where? In the churches of Sant Pere de Terrassa, a monumental complex formed by the Romanesque churches of Sant Pere, Sant Miquel, and Santa Maria, in the ancient Visigothic centre of Egara.
Swap the city for nature
Leave the city to enter the nature of the Natural Park of Sant Llorenç del Munt i l'Obac. With a Mediterranean climate, the park combines thick forests with vertical cliffs and rounded rocks, which mix different tones and form a peculiar relief full of monoliths, canals, grottos and caves. In the middle of the park, perched on the mountain of la Mola (1,104 meters), is the 12th-century Romanesque monastery of Sant Llorenç del Munt. The walk to get there is smooth, taking about 30 minutes, and the views from this location are spectacular.
The cultural project of Món Sant Benet
While descending from la Mola, you can make a stop at Talamanca. This small village, surrounded by a quiet atmosphere with narrow streets and stone houses, was the scene of one of the most outstanding battles of the War of Succession in 1714, when the Catalan army won the last victory against the Bourbon troops.
Navarcles is the next municipality on this itinerary, travelling towards the Pyrenees of Catalonia. Here the icon is Món Sant Benet, a very unique cultural, tourist and leisure project that unites a medieval monastery and the AlÌcia Foundation, an innovative international centre of research in cooking created by Ferran Adrià.
The gateway to the Pyrenees of Catalonia
Two towns serve as hosts to welcome you to the Pyrenees of Catalonia. The first is Santa Maria de Merlès, with its three historic churches: Santa Maria de Merlès, Sant Pau de Pinòs and Sant Miquel de Terradelles. The second is Borredà, a Pyrenean corner that attracts many fans of mountain biking and hiking.
The heart of the Pyrenees
The journey continues its course towards the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees, and opens up between two natural spaces such as the Queralt mountain range and the Sierra de Ensija-Rasos de Peguera up to the Pedraforca mountain range. Formed over thousands of years by the erosion of limestone materials and soft loams, the mountain range has a particular and special profile that has attracted climbers from all over the world. It is all a symbol of Catalonia.
Going along the road that borders the Llosa del Cavall reservoir, you will arrive at Coll del Port, a pass of 1,668 meters of altitude, next to the Natural Park of the Cadí-Moixeró. In the park grow 1,400 species and subspecies of plants grow, with flowers and ferns, representing about a third of the Catalan flora. It is a section of the route to travel leisurely and admire the landscape.
Adventure in La Seu d'Urgell
The next stop will be in La Seu d'Urgell, another municipality to enjoy outdoor activities, such as rafting and canoeing in the Segre Park, or mountain bike routes. Do not miss the La Seu Cathedral, the only entirely Romanesque-style cathedral of Catalonia, and the Diocesà d'Urgell Museum.
Pyrenean mythology and history
30 km from Seu d'Urgell, anchored between three valleys, there is the township of Les Valls d'Aguilar, the land of the ëminaironsí. Do you know what they are? They are small fantastic beings present in Pyrenean mythology. In Les Valls d'Aguilar, an itinerary has been created that runs through some corners of the municipality that the minairons inhabited.
A salty town
The last town of the route owes its name to a trade, the production of salt. Gerri de la Sal still preserves the salt mines, documented as early as the 9th century, which were for years its economic engine and which can be visited today. Complete this experience to relive the productive history with a visit to the museum of Gerri de la Sal, located in the old salt store of the fifteenth century.
From Gerri de la Sal, you can choose to follow the route North to Sort, and continue with the route of the Pyrenees, or South to the Pobla de Segur and join the World Heritage route.
Where is your next move going to take you?