About Time: Why Catalonia Needs to Be on Your Bucket ListBy Angelica Malin
The magic of Catalonia makes it one of the most popular regions in Spain. From its rich culture and gorgeous wine country to its stunning coastlines and adventures in the Pyrenees, there is much to write home about when visiting this enchanting place. Bordered by the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Catalonia is a historical region that is fiercely proud of its heritage. It’s medieval buildings contrast with modernist architecture, and the sparkling and colourful seaside is home to a vibrant culture.
Barcelona is rich in historical significance, only rivalled by Girona with its medieval structures and Tarragona, a former Roman capital. Further inland, quiet country villages and medieval towns are nestled among the rolling green hills while the seafront fills with people chasing the sun in resorts at the Costa Brava and the Costa Daurada.
Catalonia is also no stranger to the glitz and glamour of the high life, with the upscale resort of Sitges attracting golfers, yacht dwellers, artists, intellectuals and those seeking pampered seaside relaxation. The region is home to several of the world’s biggest stars, such as model Vanessa Lorenzo, actor Jordi Mollà and PSPC winner Ramón Colillas, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out in case you bump into a celebrity or two. Artist Salvador Dali and operatic soprano Montserrat Caballè were also from this region, and their legacy can still be seen in Catalonia today. But the highlights of this region don’t end there.
Monastery of Montserrat
Surrounded by weathered cliffs, this gorgeous Benedictine monastery perches atop a rocky outcrop. Originally constructed in 1025, legend has it that miracles took place here, and pilgrims from miles away came to pay their respects.
A short train ride from Barcelona lies the medieval town of Girona. It has a rich tapestry of history, from ancient Romans to Moorish-era Arabs. The colourful houses of the Old Town line the Onyar River while the winding back alleys fill with impressive medieval buildings.
It would be hard to visit the region without paying homage to its glorious capital, Barcelona, even if only for 48 hours. Bustling with urban energy and brimming with jaw-dropping architecture, this city is a wonderful contrast of winding streets and avant-garde architecture. Check out the activity on La Rambla as well as the Gaudí classics, such as Park Güell, Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família and Palau Güell.
Arguably the most beautiful coastline in Spain, the Costa Brava fills with well-preserved coves, stunning seascapes, eroded cliffs and delightful seaside towns. It is well-known for its mouth-watering cuisine and is perfect for anyone who loves to dive, as the conditions here are first class.
Whether you’re seeking winter conditions for skiing and snowboarding or looking for the perfect place to hike during the summer and autumn, the Catalan Pyrenees is an all-season playground. Head to the azure blue lakes of the Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici for a swim or check out the climbing terrain of the Serra del Cadí.
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, the upmarket yacht marina and golf course of Sitges add to its first-class vacation appeal. Sun yourself on the golden stretches of Blue Flag beaches or check out the stunning example of Modernist architecture at the Cau Ferrat Museum where author Santiago Rusiñol once lived.
There are plenty of UNESCO-listed Roman buildings in Tarragona, and it is one of the most well-preserved historical centres of Catalonia. The beaches are perfect for spending a few days soaking up the sun while the rich history of the monuments is enough to keep any buff busy.
Embalse des Talarn
The Embalse des Talarn is a large freshwater lake surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in Spain. The lake is perfect for those who love fishing, boating, camping, sailing or hiking through the rugged terrain.
Wherever you decide to visit, one thing is for sure: you will want to come back!