Postcard from Catalunya: Part II

After our days near or at the Catalan beaches, we decided to head for the relative cool of the hills behind Barcelona, an area we’d not previously visited and where the scenery was truly stunning.

We stayed in yet another beautifully converted farmhouse, this time dating back to 11th century,  in the foothills of the magnificent Catalan Pyrenees.  The views from our hotel’s vast terrace included an infinity pool which presented a striking contrast between the gentle greens of the surrounding nature and the bright blue of the sky.

We were only here for two nights and, apart from lazing beside the pool,  took the opportunity to visit the nearby ruined castle of Lladurs and the nearest town of Solsona.

El Castell de Lladurs is located on the range Serrat del Castell next to the primitive Church of Sant Martí. It’s at the southeastern tip of the Riard plain, and on the eastern border of the municipal district of the same name, located on a slope on the right bank of the River Cardener. It’s classified as a monument of national interest.

How it all began

The first mention of this castle dates from the 1000AD, when the Count of Urgell sold some vines located “in chastro Llaturci”. Through the act of consecration of Sant Sadurní de Tavèrnoles (Benedictine Abbey located in the municipality of Valls de Valira, Alt Urgell), it was known that the castle was a property of the monastery together with the churches of Sant Martí and Sant Miquel, from the year 1040.

There are other documents from 11th and 12th centuries where the castle appears in relation to the surrounding area. In 1314, upon being included in the viscounty of Cardona, it appears as one of the castles which was under the lordship of the Folc family, and remained as such until the abolition of the feudal structure in 19th century. It was included inside the viscounty, later county and finally duchy of Cardona, and it belonged to the bailiff of nearby Solsona (more of which below).

In 1762 a document outlined the following borders of the castle: to the east Torrents, Vilanova d’Isanta and Olius; south: Solsona and Pallarès, west: Albets and La Llena and to the north Timoneda and Isanta.

The castle ruins, annexed buildings and extensions date from different eras. While it’s difficult to distinguish what may be left from the Romanesque construction, the most modern part is in the north, in front of the church. To the south and east, there are some walls with solid, well carved and arranged square stones. The oldest preserved walls date to 13th or perhaps 14th century.

We also enjoyed walking around Solsona located on the nearby plateau which was the closest city to our hotel in Lladurs and the main economic, administrative and cultural centre of the area. Its winding streets in the Old Town charmed as did its architectural heritage.

It’s a city because it has a cathedral which replaced a pre-Romanesque church. The present cathedral is Gothic in style, begun in 13th century and completed in 17th century.

As the city grew, the first fortress wall was erected in 11th century, which in 1303, was replaced by another one, two meters thick and 16 meters high. The remains of this wall, as well as three towers that have survived to the present day can still be seen in different places, for example, in the Val Calent zone, where windows pierce the wall, and the upper edge of the wall turned into terraces.

The Bridge gate, completed in 1805, turned into the main entrance to the city after a twelve-arch stone bridge was built in 18th century. Castle Gate got its name because Solsona’s first castle was located right next to it – today it’s a monastery. Until 18th century, these gates were the main entrances to the old city.

The Episcopal Palace and the Museum of the Diocese Solsona was built by Bishop Lasala in 18th century. Its main facade, along with the facade of the Barcelona Palace are the city’s most outstanding examples of neo-classical Catalan architecture. The Museum of the Diocese was the first of its kind in Catalonia.

All the main arteries of the old city flow into the main town square which is where Solsona’s festivals take place, also various fairs and a weekly market on Fridays. One of the buildings in the square is Ca l’Aguila, now an exhibition hall but previously home to several dynasties of merchants and nobles.

The clock tower dates back to 1500. Initially, it had two bells: one to ring the fire alarm, and the second for the time (for which it continues to be used today).

In Sant Joan square there’s a beautiful fountain, decorated with the words of a poem written by Joseph M. de Sagarra. The square is surrounded by houses, of which Cabales House stands out in particular, being the home of one of the most distinguished families of Solsona, many generations of which have lived there for centuries.

The main entrance to Solsona’s City Hall is located along Castel Street, where the street is slightly wider. The building was built in 16th century, in the Gothic style, but with Renaissance elements. The city emblem of the city and that of the merchant who built it are on the facade.

A merchant’s daughter, Francesca de Llobera left sufficient funds in her will in 1411 to build a hospital for the poor, now known as the Llobera Palace which is now occupied by the Council of the Comarcal del Solsonès and the Tourist Office.

Until a few years ago, Solsona used to be the main road between Barcelona and Andorra, but no longer.

On our way to Uzès, we paid a visit to the oldest vignoble in Spain, if not Europe, which is still in the hands of the founding Margenat family. It also provides accommodation and isn’t too far from the MotoGP circuit. Maybe, one for another time!

21 Comments on “Postcard from Catalunya: Part II

  1. Hello! I am having trouble with my wordpress blog. I am inundated with you and America on Coffee. I do not know what I did to invoke posts coming to my blog constantly. Now, I can not open the like button. It keeps spinning foor about 5 minutes. I need to renove my constant additions to my “Notifications” page. I tried going to you site. The print is so small. I would need a magnifying glass. Yet, I do not know how to abort this bombardment. I cant read the small print. Please, can you help me. My site is being compromised..Thank you in advance. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps you can delete me. I will come back at a later date and refollow. You and America on Coffee are the only posts that automatically go to my ‘notifications’ page. It has been about a month now. I can not change it your post has tiny fonts too. Bewildering?

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        Like

      • sounds good. I will wait a few weeks then follow back. I think I added ..provider notification on every post. But, I did not realize how many posts you had and they are loaded with pictures. I cant imagine why this anomaly is showing up now..I was hoping it was temporary..Thx for your support! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • No probs and hopefully the actions taken by us both will resolve the issue.

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