Discovery of the Catalan region
Second region of Spain after Andalusia in terms of population, Catalonia, considered as “national reality” enjoys a special status of autonomous nation governed by the “Generalitat de Catalunya”.
Catalonia was already a state in the Middle Ages. The Principality of Catalonia had its own specificities and institutional privileges which it will retain throughout its history, first with the Crown of Aragon and then with the Kingdom of Spain.
Its official languages are Catalan, Castilian and Occitan in the Val d’ Aran, bordering France.
Industrialized since the 19th century, Catalonia, although it is now the richest region in Spain, has always been at the forefront of social struggles and modernism. During the civil war, some Catalan localities, including Barcelona, paid a high price for their support to the Spanish Republic.
Catalonia presents varied faces, shared between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. Eleven nature parks scattered throughout its territory are protected by an advisory body for the protection of nature and landscape.
Mountainous and maritime, Catalonia is famous for the beauty of the beaches of its long coastline. The seaside resorts of the Costa Brava, Costa Dorada or Barcelona are renowned for being able to practice in the best possible conditions all nautical activities.
In the hinterland, generally mountainous, it offers rafting and mountaineering, ski resorts, hiking and gastronomy in sites with extraordinarily varied panoramas.
The Sagrada Familia and the Ramblas of Barcelona, the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueras, the archaeological site of Tarragona or the old medieval city of Girona.
What to see in Catalonia
625 km east of Madrid.
Catalan and European, traditional and modernist, Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest economic centre, has inherited a cultural past. Often avant-garde, some of the most remarkable buildings by Catalan architects such as Antoni Gaudí or Lluís Doménech y Montaner have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Lengthening the Gotico barrio, the oldest district of the city, the Ramblas, the avenue that connects the port to the Plaça de Catanunya, remain the place where tourists are most often visited.
The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is an emblematic monument of Barcelona, the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is the architectural work not to be missed.
40 km northwest of Barcelona.
The site of Montserrat stands in a spectacular massif on the top of which stands the image of the Virgin of Monserrat, patron saint of Catalonia, and a mausoleum shelters “La Morenata”, a 12th century Romanesque sculpture of the Virgin Mary.
Classified Natural Park, the site, which includes no less than 5000 climbing routes and numerous hiking trails, also houses the Benedictine abbey Santa María de Montserrat, a museum and a hotel for visitors and pilgrims. The museum houses works by Picasso, Dalí and Greco.
Natural Park of Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac
50 km north of Barcelona.
The 14,000 hectares of the Sant Llorenç del Munt Natural Park are located in the heart of the Serralada Prelitoral Catalana mountain range in the regions of El Vallès Occidentale and El Bages.
Protected area since 1972, the park is made up of rugged and rocky landscapes as well as high cliffs and peaks with the highest peaks reaching more than 1000 meters.
There are many marked trails through the park to discover traditional and cultural activities.
40 km south-west of Barcelona.
Between sea and mountains, Sitges offers a wide range of leisure activities complemented by luxury residences, golf courses and numerous nautical facilities. The quality of its waters and beaches, some of which benefit from a Blue Pavilion, make it a popular and popular seaside destination.
The centre of Sitges is dotted with religious buildings, palaces and neo-Gothic buildings.
15 km south of Barcelona.
Only a few minutes from Barcelona and its international airport, Castelldefels is located between the eponymous massif and the Mediterranean Sea. With a marina with numerous water sports and five kilometres of fine sand, its geographical location makes it a major destination for the Costa del Garraf and the Lower Llobregat region.
A coastline to be admired from the old castle of Fels to which there are still defensive towers built in the XVI century.
30 km northeast of Barcelona.
Mataró is an industrial, commercial and tourist centre located on the Costa del Maresme, in addition to an illustrious past, Mataró has a vast beach and a marina. It houses many shops and restaurants that make it a nautical and tourist area with varied leisure activities.
The archaeological site of Villa Romana de Torre Llauder, discovered between the port and the city centre, bears witness to Roman origins dating from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD.
105 km northeast of Barcelona.
Girona, situated at the confluence of four rivers, is home to Roman, Jewish and Arab remains in its historic medieval centre, the Barri Vell.
On the western bank of the Onyar River, which divides the city in two, the old town and the old Jewish quarter of El Call, perched on a hill, houses the historic buildings, museums and art galleries that dot the city. The cathedral of St. Mary’s Cathedral with its fortress air is nestled in the Força Vella fortified enclosure on the heights of the city.
East side, are the Renfe train station, the Central Post Office and the new districts with wide avenues.
The hamlets of Palafrugell
35 km southeast of Girona.
The most important municipality in the county of Baix Empordà, Palafrugell includes several small urban nuclei, including the village of Llofriu with its typical stone houses and the hamlets of Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc and Tamariu at the foot of the Gavarres massif.
These hamlets, former fishing villages on the Costa Brava, are hidden behind small bays between the capes of San Sebastían in the north and Roig in the south. Their picturesque charm, between sea and mountains, the coves and beaches that characterize them have made them some of the most important tourist places of the Costa Brava.
The Catalan Cerdanya
Fairly shared between France and Spain, the Cerdanya Valley region corresponds, on the Spanish side, to the lower Sègre valley, a tributary of the River Ebro.
The Catalan Cerdanya, which has Puigcerda as its capital, presents splendid mountain landscapes protected to the north by peaks of around 3000 m: Puigpedrós, Carlit, Pimorent with meadows and forests. To the south, Serra de Cadí and Moixero y Puigmal, wooded with pine and fir trees, protect glacial lakes in their highest reliefs.
The Cerdanya is a high mountain tourist region, which alternates between outdoor and sporting activities. After the winter sports season, hiking, climbing, climbing, mountaineering or other mountain activities are invited in the tourist offers. The small Pyrenean villages in the region that benefit from 300 days of annual sunshine are not left out in the offers of visits to their Romanesque churches.
145 km north-west of Girona.
On the banks of the Sègre, Puigcerdà, founded in 1177 by Philip II of Aragon to replace Llivia as the capital of the County of Cerdanya, is one of the main tourist destinations in the Catalan Pyrenees.
Its streets lined with souvenir shops and old buildings converge on the Santa María square, the nerve centre of the old fortress, and its pedestrian plateau.
In Puigcerdà, the tourist activities of Puigcerdà are mainly focused on skiing and the mountains.
Surrounded by massifs culminating in 3000 meters, the tourist activities of Puigcerdà are mainly turned towards the ski and the mountain.
150 km north-west of Girona.
Enclaved in the French department of the Pyrénées-Orientales 100 km west of Perpignan, Llívia, surrounded by high mountains, is situated in a plain at altitude varying between 1200 and 1580 m above sea level. Since 1866 the enclave has had a 4 km long’ neutral road’ linking it to Puigcerda.
In 2009 the Spanish enclave had 1600 inhabitants divided between Llívia and the hamlets of Cereja in the north and Gorguja in the south-east.
Skiing country, long hikes and mountain activities, the enclave is endowed with many accommodation infrastructures.
35 km north of Girona.
The capital of the Alt Empordà region, a city with deep Catalan roots nestled in a river plain, Figueres, is the birthplace of Salvador Dalí.
Moreover, a theatre-museum is dedicated to the surrealist artist. Located in the former municipal theatre, it has become one of the city’s main cultural and tourist attractions.
Conceived by the painter himself, his exhibition, endowed with numerous works of the master, allows us to better understand this artistic approach of genius. The Galatea Tower, added to the original building, welcomed Dalí’s last days.
La Rambla, Figueres’ main promenade and lively commercial street around which the city is built, concentrates some of the most ambitious architectural projects of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is characterized by its many Art Nouveau and neoclassical buildings.
50 km northeast of Girona.
Founded by the Greeks in the heart of the Girona Costa Brava, Roses stretches out into the sea and mountains. Surrounded by beaches and creeks protected by rocky cliffs, it offers numerous possibilities for water sports and hiking in the nearby Aiguamolls de l’ Empordà and Cap Creus nature parks.
135 km west of Barcelona
From 1937 to 1938, Lérida was badly affected by the bombardments of the infamous Condor Legion, which killed 300 people. Lérida is nevertheless a dynamic and lively city inhabited by 146 nationalities.
Lérida is a dynamic and animated city in which 146 nationalities live together.
Founded in the 5th century BC by the Iberian Ilergetes on a hill in the heart of the fertile plain of the Segre, Lérida still preserves buildings made by the different peoples who settled there. Among them, Seu Vella Cathedral, a 13th century work in both Romanesque and Gothic style, is the emblematic building of the city.
Caragols, snails, are the gastronomic speciality of Lérida.
National Park of Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici
180 km north of Lérida.
The park of Aigüestortes, in the typical environment of the high Pyrenean mountains, is characterized by the crystal clear waters of these many lakes and rivers.
Located in the extreme north-west of Catalonia between the Principality of Andorra and Val d’ Aran, the park is a true paradise for hikers. From spring onwards, visitors will discover lake landscapes, the park has 150 lakes, waterfalls and torrents with running water, ridges crowned by beech or pine forests, sometimes steep peaks, some of which are close to 3000 metres.
160 km north of Lérida.
Enclaved in the mountainous environment of the Vall de Boí in the upper Ribagorza, Barruera is home to several Romanesque churches listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Among them, Sant Feliú is a true jewel of Lombard Romanesque style.
From Barruera it is easy to reach the hiking trails of the Aigüestortes Park, also famous for its mountaineering possibilities.
100 km southwest of Barcelona.
The archaeological complex of Tarroco, as the Romans called it, has made Tarragona a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Spread along the Mediterranean coastline, Tarragona is endowed with vast stretches of beaches, a high-performance marina and leisure centres that make the cultural capital of South Catalan a destination of choice on the shores of the Costa de Daurada.
The district of El Serrallo near the port hosts many restaurants where it is good to taste a local gastronomy based on fish and shellfish or eels caught in the Ebro delta.
Mount-Roig del Camp
20 km south-west of Tarragona.
Mount Roig del Camp is one of the Costa Daurada’s main tourist destinations, with no less than 12 kilometers of beaches along which hotels, campsites, residential tourist areas, restaurants, nightclubs…
The beaches alternate with small coves where windsurfing, underwater fishing and water skiing are widely practiced. The beaches alternate with small coves.
95 km southwest of Tarragona.
In the extreme south-western part of the province of Tarragona, the town of Deltebre is situated in the estuary of the Ebro River, at the gates of the Ebro Delta Natural Park.
Considered one of the most important wetlands in Europe, the park is composed of canals, lagoons and sandbanks where many migratory birds like to linger. Several tourist agencies organise river cruises to the mouth of the river.