Val d'Aran is the only Atlantic valley in Catalonia. Its personality is unique. This mountainous corner, which has 30% of its territory above 2,000 meters, forms a great natural barrier that impresses from a bird's eye view. This route starts here and goes through the Pyrenees of Catalonia, setting course for the Vall de BoÌ to immerse yourself in the world of the Romanesque.
The Romanesque jewels of Vall de Boí
The Romanesque style is the most important artistic and spiritual expression of the Middle Ages. In this corner of the Pyrenees of Catalonia, a prominent part of the legacy is gathered together that, in this rural environment, has remained practically intact. The Romanesque style of Vall de Boí is exceptional due to the collection in a reduced space of such a high number of churches of the same architectural style, nine to be exact, which have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Adventure in el Pallars
Add a touch of adrenaline to your route. To do so, head north towards Pallars Sobir, an area marked by the strength of the Noguera Pallaresa river. It is over 1,900 meters high, has a length of 154 kilometres, and is famous for its adventure sports and white-water sports. The river combines sections with great water flows and rapids with others that are more relaxed to let you contemplate the landscape while being carried along gently by the current.
La Seu d'Urgell and La Molina
Leaving behind the adventures of El Pallars, head towards the port of Cantó until reaching Seu d'Urgell, home of the bishopric and the cathedral of Santa Maria d'Urgell, the only Romanesque-style cathedral of Catalonia. The Segre river flows through the Pyrenean municipality, and if you continue its course towards the East you will arrive at La Cerdanya, which has "trinxat" as one of its star dishes. This region houses the station of La Molina, and the chairperson of winter sports in Catalonia and in Spain. Since 1943 it has delighted mountain fans, both in Winter and in Summer.
The Romanesque facade of Ripoll
50 minutes from the station, the decoration changes completely. Head towards Ripoll to visit one of the architectural icons of the region, the monastery of Santa MarÌa de Ripoll. Take your time to look closely at every detail of its monumental Romanesque facade, dating back to the middle of the twelfth century.
Towards the land of the volcanoes
The walk resumes. Through the tunnels of Capsacosta you will enter the Catalan volcanic world, the Natural Park of the Volcanic Zone of La Garrotxa, with 12,000 hectares of protected space that includes more than forty craters surrounded by vegetation. This corner is a small work of natural art.
L'Empordà by Salvador Dalí
Although we're talking about art, in Catalonia it is impossible not to think of L'Empordà, the region that saw the birth of and inspired the genius of surrealism, Salvador Dalí. Its shadow extends out in these lands bathed by the Mediterranean where the Pyrenees of Catalonia come to an end. It goes from Portlligat, where he lived, passing through P˙bol, where you find the Gala Dalí Castle, and ends in Figueres with the Dalí Theater-Museum. The artist himself supervised the entire process of designing and creating this cultural space, leaving his signature in every corner.
More attractions in the Pyrenees
In addition, one of the best things about travelling on a route through the Pyrenees of Catalonia is that you can always go off the beaten track. You can take a detour to get to know the medieval settlements of Beget, Bag, and Santa Pau, see the water flow among the rocks of the fountains of Llobregat, and listen to the calm and silence between the summits that surround the valley of Núria.
The route begins in the Pyrenees of Catalonia, and the road is not marked.