The Ignatian WayArt and culture route, Hiking
Es un camino de peregrinación internacional que empieza en la casa natal de San Ignacio, en el Santuario de Loyola (Guipúzcoa) y acaba en la Cueva de Manresa, donde el santo vivió una profunda experiencia espiritual que marcó su vida.
This international pilgrims’ way begins at the house where St. Ignatius was born, now the Shrine of Loyola, in Guipúzcoa, and ends at the cave in Manresa where the saint experienced a profound spiritual awakening that changed his life. The route runs through five autonomous communities and covers a total distance of 650 km divided into 27 stages, during which pilgrims have the opportunity to discover the diversity of cultures, traditions and languages in the towns along the way.
Alcarràs: This is the first town on the Ignatian Way in Catalonia. Its notable features include the Parish Church of Mare de Déu de l’Assumpció, built on the site of an old castle, and the town’s ancient holm oak, which stands on the road from Vallmanya to the area of Coscollar and which grew, all alone, in the middle of the plain. The Ignatian Way enters Catalonia via Fraga, following the last traces of the ancient highway from Aragon.
Lleida: Pilgrims arrive in the capital of the Terra Ferma after crossing the Old Bridge over the Segre River and enter the city’s old quarter through the Arc del Pont, a gate into the old walled area. The sites and monuments in this part of the city include the Palau de la Paeria – the town hall –, the new cathedral – known as the Seu Nova, believed to be the first Neoclassical building erected in Catalonia – and the Hospital de Santa Maria, a fine example of Catalan Gothic civil architecture. At the junction of Carrer Major and Carrer Cavallers stands the Chapel of Sant Jaume del Peu Romeu, presided by an image of St. James that recalls the story of the thorn in the saint’s foot. Standing on the hill that dominates the city is the Seu Vella, the old cathedral, which is unquestionably the architectural jewel of western Catalonia due to its impressive eight-sided bell tower that rises to a height of more than 70 metres.
Convent of Sant Bartomeu of Bellpuig: Five km south-east of Castellnou de Seana is Bellpuig, where visitors can admire the magnificence of the Franciscan Sant Bartomeu Monastery, known locally as a convent, situated on the town’s outskirts and one of its architectural gems. The monastery, which was declared a Cultural Asset of National Importance in 1985, was constructed in various stages, yet remains remarkably unified in character.
Verdú: This town was the birthplace of Pere Claver, making it extremely important for the Society of Jesus. Claver was a Jesuit missionary to Colombia, devoting his life to the black slaves there for 40 years until his death. Verdú is home to the Friends of St. Pere Claver association, which supports the Church’s missionary work today. Believed to be one of the oldest towns in Catalonia, Verdú is part of the Network of Charming Towns and Villages. Its notable buildings include the Parish Church of Santa Maria, in the Cistercian style (13th century), the Gothic Shrine of Sant Miquel (14th century) and the castle (12th century), around which the town developed. The shrine dedicated to St. Pere Claver, at the place where he was born, is open to visitors. Other interesting places to visit include the Archaeology Museum and the Toy and Automata Museum. The town is also known for its traditional black pottery.
Tàrrega: The Ignatian Way enters Tàrrega, the chief town of the district of Urgell that lies halfway along the route between Alcarràs and Montserrat, along Avinguda de la Generalitat, which leads to Plaça del Carme, popularly known as “El Pati” (the courtyard), the town’s hub. As you stroll through its old quarter, along the narrow streets of Carrer del Carme and Carrer d’Agoders, you will see the bell tower and the Palau dels Marquesos de la Floresta, a former hospital for pilgrims and an impressive example of Catalan Romanesque civil architecture. When you enter Plaça Major, presided by the Creu del Pati, a magnificent Gothic boundary cross, you come to the Neoclassical Church of Santa Maria d’Alba.
Cervera: In this walled city long renowned for its university, the first monumental building walkers come to is the Church of Santa Maria – no- table for its stained-glass windows featuring iconography associated with St. James – with its eight-sided bell tower that stands out above the town’s skyline, followed by La Paeria, the town hall, in the medieval quarter. Continue on up Carrer Major, which leads to the old Cervera University, and stroll along the narrow streets of Carrer Sabater, Carrer de l’Estudi Vell and Carrer de les Bruixes.
Igualada: Founded around the year 1000 on the left bank of the Anoia River, Igualada owes much of its initial development to the old highway between Barcelona and Lleida, a legacy of the Roman road that linked Barcino (Barcelona) and Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza). Notable buildings in the town include the Basilica of Santa Maria, built in both the Gothic and Renaissance styles, which has a single nave flanked by twelve side chapels. Alongside it is the Farmàcia Bausili, founded in the 15th century, the oldest chemist’s in Europe that is still in business. On the outskirts, just before you enter the city, there
is a magnificent view of the Shrine of Sant Jaume Sesoliveres.
Montserrat: Catalonia’s mountain of legend par excellence and declared a Natural Park, Montserrat is one of the most important spiritual centres in Europe. The monastery has a rich tradition and many treasures associated with St. James, exemplified by the magnificent Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (Red Book of Montserrat), a 14th-century manu- script that records pilgrims’ songs and rituals and which demonstrates the antiquity of the pilgrimage routes. In addition to the basilica, which houses the Romanesque image of La Moreneta, Our Lady of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia, the monas- tery is home to the Escolania, one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Europe. Montserrat Museum is also of interest and contains works by great artists such as Caravaggio, El Greco, Rusiñol, Cases, Picasso and Dalí. Montserrat was in the past and is still today a necessary stopping place for Ignatian pilgrims passing through Catalonia.
Manresa: The route continues on after Montserrat to Manresa, an old industrial city in the heart of Catalonia. A nerve centre on the Ignatian Way in Europe, it lies on the Way of Ab- bot Oliba and the Way St. James. In Manresa there are many fine medieval buildings and Baroque residences, together with Modernista factories, mills and mansions. Notable among the town’s tourist sights are the Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria de la Seu, the Baroque complex of St. Ignatius’ Cave, the old quarter, in particular Plaça de Sant Domènec, and L’Agulla Park, with its impressive panoramic view of Montserrat mountain.
- Classification of the route: Cultural route
- Route administrator: Ruta: DGT.
- Province: Barcelona, Lleida
- Region: Anoia, Bages, Pla d'Urgell, Segarra, Segrià, Urgell
- Places of interest: Alcarràs, Lleida, Convent de Sant Bartomeu de Bellpuig, Verdú, Tàrrega, Cervera, Igualada, Montserrat, Manresa.