You’ve seen Barcelona, but have a few days extra? There are a lot of interesting places to visit in the area. I would love to take you with me on this road trip through Catalonia.
Check the map below to get an idea of the trip we made.
Blanes is a popular seaside town, to the north-east of Barcelona. The town has a lively party scene, but the botanical gardens of Marimurtra are worth a visit during the day. The garden has a spectacular setting on top of the cliffs. You have a wonderful view over the region. The garden was designed by the German Karl Faust and is home to more than 4000 plant species.
Picture credits to Jardi Botànic Marimurtra | Fundacio Carl Faust
Figueres is mostly famous because of Salvador Dali. The town is the birth place as well as the final resting place of this extravagant painter. Dali explored many different genres like cubism and futurism, but he is most famous for his surrealistic works. He is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, and the Dali Museum owns the largest collection of his works. It really is the singularly most special museum I’ve ever seen, and that’s just looking at the outside! Children will not be bored by a visit to this museum.
Picture credits to Glimpses of the world. Make sure to check our het blog.
Besalú is a tiny mountain village and is barely 5km2 in size. This 12th-century town looks like an open-air museum. The well-preserved, fortified bridge over the Riu Fluvia and the Roman churches of Sant Pere and Sant Vicenç are certainly worth a visit. A mikvah (Jewish ritual bathing house) dating back to 1274 was discovered accidentally in 1964; only three of these baths are preserved in all of Europe.
Castellfullit de la Roca
A little bit down the road you pass this special village. Its location atop a columnar basalt cliff, over 60m above the Fluvia, is simply spectacular. Buildings stand to the very edge of the columns and a small church stands on the tip of the rock.
The monastery of Montserrat is a place of pilgrimage and one of the highlights of this region. It is the holiest place of Catalonia and is surrounded by chapels and hermits’ caves.
It is unclear when the monastery was founded, but the legend tells of holy men who, on a Saturday afternoon in 880, heard a wonderful song and saw a bright light descending from heaven. The same thing happened on the following four Saturdays. It was decided that a church should be built there.
Initially it was a priory, but later it became a full monastery, independent from Rome.
When the bishop heard about this, he visited the mountain. During the visit a cave was discovered in which a statue of the Virgin Mary appeared. The bishop wanted to bring the painting to Manresa, but suddenly it became extremely heavy. It was said that it was the wish of the Holy Virgin to stay in Montserrat, and a chapel was built to house the statue..
Unfortunately, it was destroyed in 1811 by the French during the War of Independence. It was rebuilt in 1844. These days, Benedictine monks live here. The monastery has a spectacular location and looks beautiful on the outside. Inside is the small wooden statue of “La Moreneta”, or the Black Madonna. This statue is the soul of Montserrat. It is said that it was made by St. Luke and that St. Peter brought it here in 50 A.D. However, carbon dating has dated it to the 12th century. The Black Madonna has been the patron saint of Catalonia since 1881.
You can reach the monastery by car or cable car from Montserrat.
Picture credits Monasterio Montserrat.
Monestir de Poblet
You have to go off the beaten track to visit this monastery. It is situated about 2 hours from Blanes and it is the most important monastery of the Cistercian triangle. This triangle played an important role in the consolidation of power in Catalonia after the region was retaken from the Moors by Ramon Berenguer IV. The monastery was plundered during the First Carlist War, and it was severely damaged by fire. Restauration of the building was started in 1930. It is situated beautifully between the vineyards and there are some royal burials inside. It's on the Unesco Worldheritage list since 1991.
You will travel over 700km during this road trip. You can pick one or two hotels to stay over. It is of course also possible to visit all the sites from Barcelona, but you will be making a lot of extra miles.
Do you know any other nice places in the region? Share them below.
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