The Catalan Tourist Board unveils six cultural routes for visitors to discover Catalonia's historic architecture, breathtaking scenery, rich culture, and remarkable cuisine outside of the region's well-known capital of Barcelona. The six unique routes traverse Catalonia's four cardinal points, including the Pyrenees in the north, the Delta de l'Ebre in the south, the Mediterranean Sea in the east, and the plains of the Terres de Lleida in the west. From the idyllic beaches of the Catalan coast to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vall de Boí and beyond, spectacular mountains, quaint medieval towns, villages, and cathedrals, Catalonia's collection of six new routes inspire travelers to uncover the many treasures nestled within the destination, at their own pace.
The six new routes include:
Route #1: Pyrenees Path
The Pyrenees symbolize the pinnacle of Catalan culture, where nature and architecture have collided for centuries. Beginning in the Aran Valley, the Pyrenees Path travels to the heights of Pallars Sobirà and its river, the Noguera Pallaresa, known for adventure and whitewater sports to La Seu d'Urgell, home of the bishopric and the cathedral of Santa Maria d'Urgell, the only Romanesque-style cathedral of Catalonia. Follow the Segre River towards the East until arriving at La Cerdanya, home to La Molina, the pioneer of winter sports in Catalonia and in Spain. Further, continue to Ripoll for one of the region's architectural icons, the monastery of Santa MarÌa de Ripoll. Look closely at the intricate details of its monumental Romanesque facade, which dates back to the middle of the 12th century. Travel through the tunnels of Capsacosta to La Garrotxa, the Natural Park of the Volcanic Zone, to explore the more than 40 craters that it encompasses. Traveling along the Fluvià River, reach L'Empordà, the birthplace of the genius of surrealism, Salvador Dalí.
Route #2: The Mediterranean Path
Uncover some of the most attractive destinations the Catalan Coast has to offer, beaming with 175 miles of beaches, astounding architecture, stunning landscapes, and fabulous cuisine from the southern tip of Catalonia to the French border. Explore the Natural Park of the Ebro Delta, Catalonia's largest aquatic habitat, home to more than 330 different species of birds and other flora and fauna. Soak in the infinite beaches of the Costa Daurada on Spain's famed Costa Brava and explore Tarragona, the old Roman capital of Hispania. Visit Tamarit Castle, which marks the beginning of the extensive beaches and marvel at the charming towns. Leave Palamós and the inlets of Begur to enter the Empordà plain and its medieval villages. This journey ends in Portbou, known for its rich history as the gateway to Europe.
Route #3: Path Between Vineyards and Monasteries
The Path Between Vineyards and Monasteries travels across the pristine country from the bustling city of Barcelona to the wetlands of the Ebro Delta. Depart Barcelona for the Ordal Mountains, crossing to the Penedès plain. Here, explore Vilafranca and Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, the Catalan capitals of wine and Cava. Wander the vineyards and monasteries of the Cistercian Route, dating back to the 12th century. Discover the prestigious wines of Priorat, recognized worldwide for their exceptional quality. In Montblanc, visit several wineries of DO Conca de Barberà, as well as medieval monuments from the 14th century. The river will guide you towards Tortosa, the historical capital of the Terres de l'Ebre.
Route #4: Heritage Path
Begin this journey back in time with Romanesque culture of the westernmost Pyrenees. This route links two World Heritage sites, journeying from snow-covered peaks to the extensive beaches of the entire Catalan coast. In Vall de Boí, climb the bell towers of eight Romanesque churches built in the 11th and 12th centuries. Leave the Pyrenees behind following the path of the Tren dels Llacs, crossing the Montsec Range. Discover the spectacular Mont-Rebei Gorge before continuing on towards Àger and Balaguer and, following the course of the Segre, heading for the Lleida Plain. From the capital of Terra Ferma, fruit and olive fields lead you to the walled city of Montblanc at the foot of the Prades Mountains, which you will cross to enter the Priorat and make a stop in the town of Siurana. Nearing the end of the route, walk around Reus, the native city of great artists like Antoni Gaudí and Marià Fortuny, before wrapping up the itinerary surrounded by Roman ruins with magnificent views of the sea from the renowned Mediterranean Balcony of Tarragona.
Route #5: Inland Path
From the Costa Brava to Terra Ferma, Catalonia's interior landscape offers an incredible variety of environments, from alternating mountains and plains to scattered towns and cities, that have shaped Catalan character for centuries. Enter the medieval villages of Empordà from the seaside mountains of Begur, before crossing Les Gavarres towards Girona. The course of the Ter River leads to the foot of Les Guilleries, a land rich in secrets and legends. Cross through Sant Hilari Sacalm, the town of the one hundred fountains, and the emblematic village of Espinelves to reach La Vall d'en Bas. Upon reaching La Vall d'en Bas, cross the Collsacabra, the massif north of the river, along the Condreu Pass and stop to wander the cobbled streets of Rupit. Manresa, located at the geographical heart of Catalonia, opens into the Llobregat Valley, leading to the foot of Montserrat. The upper region of the Conca de Barberà opens the doors to the valley of the Corb River, a land of grains, olive groves and the medieval village of Guimerà. Finally, cross the Urgell Channel in Arbeca before heading towards Lleida for the spectacular sunsets.
Route #6: City Path to the Field
From Barcelona to the foot of the Pyrenees, this route showcases spectacular valleys and mountains, as well as towns and cities, each one with a variety of native stories and legends to tell. Depart Barcelona and cross Collserola to the densely populated and industrial territory of the Vallès, home to several significant Romanesque gems. Travel along the Merlès stream up to Borredà and down the river to Berga. On the climb, notice the Queralt mountain range, Rasos de Peguera and, in the distance, the spectacular Pedraforca Massif, the true symbol of Catalonia. End up in Gerri de la Sal, a small village known for its Romanesque monastery, a medieval bridge and salt mines. From here, choose to continue toward Sort and follow the Pyrenees route, or, travel south to reach La Pobla de Segur and follow the Heritage route.
For more information and to explore additional facets of Catalunya, visit www.catalunya.com.