Delve deep into a mine, uncover lost trades and see Romanesque in all its glory in Boí. Welcome to a route that takes us to the past without forgetting the future.
A past of mining and textiles
Val d'Aran has historically been a region of mineral extraction. Head into Arres and the galleries of 'La Mina Victoria' - a mine where they extracted zinc up until the 1950s - and learn all about the region's mining past. You'll find the textiles at the Vielha Wool Mill, restored for public visits. To learn more about the history of the Aranese, head to the Musèu dera Val d'Aran, also in Vielha.
Rich Christian history
Our first stop on the Romanesque route will be the Church of Sant Miquel, Vielha, which houses the preserved 'Christ of Mijaran', a Romanesque carving from the 12th century. The sculpture in question formed part of an ensemble of sculptures with equal importance to those of Boí, but was destroyed during the Civil War. Finish the day in the Church of Santa Maria de Cap d'Aran de Tredòs, the only church in Val d'Aran with a crypt below the altar and a separate bell tower.
The life of the valleys
Head to the Ecomuseu de les Valls d'Àneu, in Esterri d'Àneu, to see the Pallars way of life at the turn of the century. The museum is broken into different venues that tell the story of the valleys comprising it. Next up, in Rialp, Obrador Xisqueta offers workshops to demonstrate their wool weaving techniques.
Salt water source
At Museu de Gerri de la Sal they'll teach you all about the salt making process and you'll also visit the town's salt works. There will also be a stop at the 'Mina Ofita', a salt water source whose origin is still a mystery to this day. Fascinating.
The 'raiers', a river icon
Who were the 'almadieros' of the Noguera? At the Museu dels Raiers, La Pobla de Segur, you'll learn about this now extinct method and the wooden river transport systems. And if you'd like to see them, book up for the first weekend in July. That's when they celebrate the festival of 'la Diada dels Raiers de la Pobla de Segur i el Pont de Claverol' and you'll be able to see the 'almadieros' in a simply spectacular descent through the river.
The heritage of Vall de Boí
Romanesque Catalan art reaches its anine Romanesque churches with UNESCO World Heritage Site status - they have been preserved without any significant alterations since the 11th century. A wonder that you simply can't miss.