The Gavarres Massif, to the north of the Catalan coastal mountain range, covers a vast area bordering the regions of El Baix Empordà and El Gironès. It is an unusual geological formation, rising in the midst of plains and trenches belonging in the north to El Empordà, in the south to the Aro Valley and to the southwest, to the plains of La Selva. The mountain spurs to the east almost reach the sea.
The Gavarres Massif, to the north of the Catalan coastal mountain range, covers a vast area bordering the regions of El Baix Empordà and El Gironès. It is an unusual geological formation rising up in the midst of plains and trenches belonging in the north to El Empordà, in the south to the Aro Valley and in the southwest to the plains of La Selva. The mountain spurs to the east almost reach the sea.
The area was declared an Area of Natural Interest in 1992, and in 1998 several town councils of the twenty that are within the limits of the Gavarres Massif founded the Gavarres Consortium, with the aim of protecting the mountain range and managing its resources, both natural and historical, as well as tourism and recreational activities in the area.
These municipalities are Calonge, Cassà de la Selva, Castell-Platja d’Aro, Celrà, Cruïlles - Monells - Sant Sadurní de l’Heura, Forallac, La Bisbal, Girona, Juià, Llagostera, Llambilles, Madremanya, Mont-ras, Palafrugell, Palamós, Quart, Santa Cristina d’Aro, Sant Martí Vell, Torrent and Vall-llobrega.
The massif is formed of highly metamorphosed rock: slate, schist and granite. Rising from ancient and much eroded lands, the appearance of the Gavarres Mountains is smooth and undulating, without dramatic slopes. The summit of the Gavarra is the highest point above sea level, reaching only 537 metres.
The landscape is almost totally covered by forest, occasionally interspersed with a farmhouse or an isolated hamlet. The woods are typically Mediterranean, characterised by the holm oak and also, in equal measure, the cork oak, although fires, wood exploitation and rural depopulation plus the subsequent abandonment of agricultural activities have allowed pine trees to advance and spread, as has been the case over a large part of the Catalonian territory.
The Gavarres also have a significant megalithic legacy. This can be seen in a dolmen in the Daina Cave and the menhir at La Murtra. There are also medieval relics, as well as pre-Romanesque and Romanesque remains, at, for example, La Bisbal Castle and the town of Millars, an intriguing spot that is hidden away and great for giving tourists a glimpse of how life was centuries ago - but with all the conveniences and technology of today.
Since the middle of the 20th century, and coinciding with the depopulation and abandonment of traditional rural life, the area has been revitalised with a new economic drive thanks in the main to rural tourism. The network of walking routes and small pathways created to cross the mountain on foot or by bike is a clear example of this.
There are also signposted routes that link various points of interest. One of these routes takes you to the Mare de Déu dels Àngels Sanctuary (485 metres), from where there are stunning views across the entire landscape. On the way down the visitor comes across the small town of Madremanya, that along with Monells and Millars, form authentic urban jewels, beautifully and lovingly restored, perfect for visitors to enjoy.