Catalonia can be called one of the most famous regions of Spain due to its aspiration for independence. But despite the political situation, it is a region of amazing natural beauty and an incredibly distinctive culture. Travelers are attracted by the picturesque rocky shores, historic towns, and distinctive cultural heritage. And the vibrant capital city of Catalonia, Barcelona, has grown into one of the most popular cities in Europe during a few past decades.
The Greatness of Montserrat
One of the most popular day trips from Barcelona is the Montserrat Monastery that is about 1.5 hours away by train from the city. The monastery is located in an impressive mountain range, the name of which, translated from Catalan, means “toothed, uneven mountain”. The highest peak of the mountain is 1236 meter high. The Montserrat Mountains are a great place for hikes. To test your strength, it is suggested to choose specially equipped hiking trails of various complexity. Walking through the picturesque gorge, you can admire the breathtaking views of the surroundings. However, it is not necessary to go up the hill on foot as you can use the elevator.
Montserrat is the holiest place in Catalonia, as it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared in these mountains in the 9th century. A black sculpture of the Virgin of Montserrat was found on the site of the miracle, a chapel was built later, and a Benedictine monastery was established in the 11th century. One of the most important values of the Montserrat monastery is the huge library. The monastery is also famous for its choir of boys, which was founded in the 13th century and is considered one of the oldest in Europe. During the noon mass you can listen to the songs performed by this choir.
Figueres is famous for the Salvador Dali Theater-Museum, which exhibits the works of an eccentric artist who was born in this town. The unusual surreal environment of the museum fascinates people or sometimes it remains an unimaginable riddle.
In Roman times, the capital of Catalonia was in the city of Tarragona that is south of Barcelona, on the Mediterranean coast. The city has many monuments reminiscent of Roman times (amphitheater, city walls), and the Archaeological Museum exhibits various Roman finds.
The old town of Girona, founded by the Romans, is surrounded by a medieval wall, invites you to wander through the cozy labyrinth of narrow streets, visit the Gothic cathedral and the Arabian bath (Banys Arabs). Walking around the Old Town, you can see the city walls and fortifications dating back to Roman times (Passeig Arqueologic). Lleida is famous for its 12th century Moorish fortress ruins. And the medieval monastery of Poblet (Monestir de Poblet), that was once one of the most important Cistercian monasteries in the region.
The Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada are known all around Europe. The name of Costa Brava is associated with steep, hard-to-reach coastal cliffs that dive into the waves of the sea. There are no sandy beaches here, but people are attracted by cozy towns, surrounded by rocks and cliffs. One of the charismatic towns is Cadaques, which inspired many famous creators, including Dali, Picasso, Miro, and others.