Catalonia grew and expanded during the Middle Ages in the context of the rise of the Carolingian Empire. From that time remained what today are sites of great tourist interest throughout this Spanish autonomous community. Let’s meet 12 medieval towns in Catalonia that hold the special charm that has remained from their past. Let’s live the adventure of going back to medieval times.
Castellfolit de la Roca
Town in the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone on a basalt cliff over 50 meters high. It is a whole wall created by nature.
On the “Cinglera de Castellfolit”, as this cliff formed by a lava flow of 200 thousand years is known, Castellfolit de la Roca was founded and developed, one of the medieval towns of Catalonia that measures less than 1 square kilometer. As you walk through the old center you will see houses and buildings made of rocks and basalt stones, something very nice to appreciate and discover, being part of the thousand people who live in Castellfolit de la Roca.
Peratallada is part of the municipality of Forallac and is so well preserved that it was declared a “Historical-Artistic Site”, a name that makes it a great tourist attraction in Catalonia. It is a population of less than 500 inhabitants that was formed and grew around a castle, without losing its essence, presence or ways of life.
Due to the archaeological remains found, studies have concluded that the origin of this medieval town goes back at least to Roman times.
A town in Catalonia very close to Castellfolit de la Roca that maintains its medieval spirit, whose entrance is across a stone bridge as was done in this period of history. Its cobbled streets will take you to the Sant Pere Monastery and the old Jewish baths, both places full of interesting history. The Roman past of this town of 2,400 people was marked by the prosperity generated by the trade that moved through the Via Annia.
A sample of this prosperous past is the workshop for manufacturing metal parts and instruments from the 1st century after Christ, discovered near Sant Martí de Capellada. Besalú was at one time an independent county that suffered from the Black Death. Even so, he has struggled to maintain and preserve his heritage.
Pals is a medieval town between mountains of about 2,400 people, a feature that makes it even more beautiful and captivating. It is the best model to know the type and appearance of the medieval cities located in that area of the Mediterranean. According to documents found, its first buildings date back to the 9th century, the time when its castle was built. The historic center of the town on a hill surrounded by plains was originally a swampy area. After being remodeled and restored, it was left with decorative and defensive pieces from different periods, which show us what life has been like in Pals over time. In one of the most impressive and imposing houses is the Underwater Archeology Museum, a place that yes or yes you should visit. Do not forget to visit the Torre de las Horas, the most representative exponent of this medieval town, as it is a circular Romanesque tower construction.
Monells is one of those medieval towns in Catalonia that was formed and developed around the old castle of the Viscounts of Bas, of which only a wall remains. In medieval times it was an important market that maintained and sustained a town that is still in force. The people of Monells are basically dedicated to tourism and the municipality, in the province of Gerona, is made up of Cruilles, Monells and San Sadurní. Its cobbled streets, some of the Romanesque-style walls and towers, easily lead us to recreate the town’s past. There are also some Gothic-style buildings such as Plaza del Aceite and Calle de los Arcos. Due to its special and unique characteristics, Monells is under the protection of the European Cultural Heritage.
Siurana, a medieval town in Catalonia with only 20 inhabitants, stands on a limestone rock that overlooks the swamp that bears the same name as the town. It is by far one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Tarragona.
One of the best and most striking attractions is its Saracen past. Its geographical location protected by the Sierra de Gritella made it the last point of Muslim domination in Catalonia. It is still possible to see and visit the ruins of its fortress, owned by the wali or governor of Siurana, a fort at the top of a hill overlooking the valley, with an important role in the fight between Moors and Christians. In the town, the ruins of the Arab castle built in the 9th century stand out, together with its houses and the “Plaça Vella”, Old Square. Climbers from all over the world have turned Siurana into a sanctuary and place of pilgrimage.
Our tour of the medieval towns of Catalonia does not lead to the banks of the Ebro river. Miravet is there, a town with a castle built during the second half of the 12th century, seat of the Templar warriors. The Miravet mill has a very remarkable appearance. It gives the feeling of coming out of the Ebro river. In this town of 700 people there is a tradition of pottery, so it is possible to find clay artisans in the “Raval dels Canterers” neighborhood, where you can make a piece on the wheel of one of the potters. A canoe ride down the Ebro River will result in an exciting and fun ride.
Guimera is for many tourists who have known it as the most beautiful medieval town in Catalonia of all. The town is in the province of Lleida with an imposing fortress that serves as a “watchman”. One of the things that stands out in Guimerá are its houses. These stand out for their stone construction and decorative details on their windows and doors. Likewise, the characteristic and traditional arches of medieval times are still maintained as they were initially made. The staggered distribution, the hidden galleries, the riverbed and the houses, make Guimerá look like a labyrinth full of small and narrow streets.
During the second week of August, the Guimerá Medieval Market is held, one of the most important moments for the town and its inhabitants. During that weekend the medieval style decoration is manifested in all its streets. You can visit craft shops and see performances about this time in history.
Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is in the province of Girona, in the Costa Brava area. A town of 5,000 inhabitants that owns a marvelous fortress by the sea, described as the “most photogenic” in Spain. The walls that surround the fortress “enclose” the historic center of the town and are still preserved intact with all the medieval charm. In the middle of them are 3 impressive cylindrical towers called Codolar, Ses Hores and Joanás. The beautiful stone walls are responsible for protecting and caring for the narrow paths that lead to the Old Quarter, the only vestige and example of a fortified medieval town that can be found along the coast of Catalonia. Tossa de Mar is close to many small coves with crystal clear waters that contribute to cementing the good reputation of the Costa Brava.
Os de Civis
Os de Civís is a small, captivating and very picturesque hamlet, which is part of the municipality of Les Valls de Valira. The only way to get there is through Andorra and it is only possible to access it by private car, as there is no public transport. This town of 200 inhabitants was practically abandoned until the end of the 20th century and without electricity or telephone service, it was almost deserted. Then it caught the attention of the French who remodeled it and adapted it to be used for tourism. Its stone constructions and narrow cobbled streets remind us of a distant era when medieval knights lived there and walked through its streets.
Medieval town in Catalonia with 300 inhabitants on the Costa Brava, in the Baix Empordá region, surrounded by lush pine forests. It is near the Sierra de las Gavarres. The first reference to its existence and foundation dates back to the year 994, since a document is known that refers to the name of Palau-Sator, to the “Esglesia de Sant Pere” and to the Gran Torre de Palau. In Palau-Sator there is a castle that was owned by the secretary of Pedro el Ceremonioso, known as Pedro IV of Aragón. You will see remains of the walls that once existed and the so-called Torre de las Horas, with a clear medieval inclination. The town center also maintains its old structure and architecture. The current inhabitants of Palau-Sator, especially in the rural part, dedicate themselves to agriculture, cultivating and harvesting vegetables, cereals and corn. They also work livestock raising cattle and various poultry. You will always be invited to visit the churches of San Pedro, San Feliu, San Julián de Boada, the Monastery of Sant Pau de Fontclara and the Rural Museum.
Vulpellac i Fonteta
Vulpellac i Fonteta is a medieval town in Catalonia belonging to the municipality of Forallach together with Peratallada. These are two towns located in the Daró river basin whose origin was medieval times. The town is made up of a center or old town with typically medieval architecture, which joins the block formed by the castle-palace and the Parish Church of San Juliá and Santa Basilisa. The old center was declared in 2009 as a Cultural Asset of National Interest, by the General Directorate of Heritage of the Generalitat. Vulpellac was built within a wall and in the surroundings of a castle of Gothic-Renaissance design. Fonteta, for its part, maintains the typical stone paving of medieval times in its streets and common areas.