The Catalan county of L’Alt Urgell is characterised by its beautiful countryside, cultural highlights, rural tourism, and excellent adventure sports services.
The natural parks and reserves of the area are the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park, Alt Pirineu Natural Park – one of the largest parks in Catalonia, and the Boumort Reserve.
A visit to Pedraforca, of Cadi-Moixeró, is a must for mountain sport lovers. The setting is both serene and dramatic, and is known as a reference point for hikers, climbers and mountaineers of Catalonia.
There are also lots of well mapped out walking routes in the area, including;the Camí dels Bons Homes (path of the Good Men): used by The Cathars fleeing the inquisition, the Dolmens walk, or the very interesting – Ruta dels Oficis (Artesans’ Route).
Other cultural highlights of Alt Urgell are its Romanesque monuments, the Diocesan museum, the Unesco World Heritage Cave Art of Roca del Rumbau(the Moors Rock), and its many medieval fairs and festivals.
Alt Urgell Villages:
La Seu d’Urgell
La Seu d’Urgell, is the capital of the county of L’Alt Urgell, the biggest city in the Catalan Pyrenees, and one of the most important medieval cities in Catalonia.
It has some important cathedrals, museums, festivals, parks, and sports installations.
The most important cross-country ski resorts, on the south side of the Pyrenees, surround La Seu d’Urgell. They boast over 100 pistes, that weave through beautiful pine and fir forests, allowing skiers to reap all the benefits from healthy exercise, while enjoying a peaceful landscape.
Canoeing and rafting are also a favorite of the area, and are easily accessible thanks to the facilities of the Segre Park, which were built for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.They include a series of white water, and calm water channels that incorporate the most advanced water sports technology.
The Cadí-Moixeró Nature Park, the largest protected space in the Catalonia Pyrenees, goes through La Seu d’Urgell. It boasts beautiful thick forests, rolling green meadows and some interesting varieties of local ecosystems, species, flora and fauna.
La Seu is actually located at an ancestral crossroads. And in the Bronze Age, there was already a town up on the hill here.The Romans later built their town down on the plain.
Today, this city remains a very active place. And in fact, is considered to be the cultural capital of a large area of the Pyrenees mountains.
For this reason, throughout the year, many different kinds of cultural activities are offered here. Namely, the Medieval market, the Pyrenees Craft Cheese Fair (The Sant Ermengol Fair), and an ancient rafting festival.
La Seu d’Urgell Highlights
- Cathedral of Santa Maria– 12th century, Italianised,Romanesque-Lombard style.
- The Church of Sant Miquel– Romanesque style church (11th century)
- The Diocesan Museum – Contains a valuable collection of religious art. It houses paintings, sculptures and examples of craftwork in gold and silver from parish churches throughout the diocese and the treasures of the cathedral.Including:
- – Wall paintings- A collection of Romanesque images of the Virgin.- A Gothic Altarpiece (1364)- A silver urn of Sant Ermengol (Saint Ermenegilo-1755)
- Diocese Museum of UrgellPl. del Deganat, s/n25700 La Seu d’Urgell (L’Alt Urgell)Tel: 973 353 242 – 973 350 054 Fax: 973 352 230
- The Sant Agustí Library – (Saint Augustine) occupies the premises of the church belonging to the Sant Agustí monastery.
- Porticoed streets (arcades- old streets covered with arched stone coverings, passageways)- Carrer dels Canonges, with the Casa Luna and the Casa del Pelegrí.- Carrer Major, with the Mesures de la Bladeria (corn measures).
Festival and market of mushrooms and traditionally ma
- Valira Park
- Located beside the river Valira, contains a replica of the cathedral’s cloister. It was designed by the writer and urbanist Lluís Racionero. The columns are sculpted with the most relevant personalities of the 20th century.
Set of paintings located in the municipal district of Peramola (L’Alt Urgell – Spain)
- Cave art:Roca del Rumbau or the Moors Rock
– UNESCO World Heritage Site
- – Cave Paintings
- Set of paintings located in the municipal district of Peramola (L’Alt Urgell – Spain).
- Megalithic:Dolmen route
- – Begins at Organyà (Spain), which can be reached from La Seu d’Urgell (Spain) by following the N-260 and C-14 towards Coll de Nargó. There are seven megaliths on the route.
La Seu d’Urgell Festivals
- Joan Brudieu Music Festival. July and August.
- Performances of El Retaule de Sant Ermengol, a religious play. August.
- Theatre and dance season. February to June.
- Town Festival. Late August.
- Els Canonges Medieval Festival. In 2010 it will be held on June 5th and 6th.
- Thursdays in the Open Air- Concerts and Theatre. July and August.
La Seu d’Urgell Markets and Fairs
- Weekly market– Documented as early as the year 1029, held in the historic town center every Tuesday and Saturday.
- Mercat Medieval de Canonges (Medieval Market)This year the Medieval Festival of la Seu, Catalonia is on June 5th and 6th (2010).
- Month: May – June
- A Medieval market where it is possible to buy all kinds of craft objects and products and also to see how craftsmen work and perform these traditional trade-related activities.
- There is also tasting of medieval recipes at local restaurants, street activities (jugglers, storytellers, circus and trapeze artists, exhibitions of falconry, guided visits…)
- Saint Anthony’s Hotpot of La Seu d’Urgell
- Month: January
- Farmers cook and serve 5,000 helpings of “escudella” (a thick soup). Local celebrations include the “Tres Tombs” (Three Turns) and the “Pujada al Pal” (Climbing the Pole).
- The Sant Ermengol Fair (Fira de Sant Armengol):
- Month: October
- A local fair- already well-known in 1048.
One of La Seu d’Urgell’s most important events
- , held on the penultimate weekend of October.
- This traditional fair sees the participation of over 30 cheese makers from Catalonia, Navarra, The Basque Country and France.
- It is also known as
the Craft Cheese Fair of the Pyrenees.
La Seu d’Urgell Sport
- Segre Park
- – White water rafting and canoeing facilities.
- Built for the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic Games. Located adjacent to the historical center of la Seu d’Urgell.
- Parc del Segre, s/n
- 25700 La Seu d’Urgell
- Telf: 973 360092
Activities offered at Parc del Segre:
- Bicycle touring – Mountain bike routes
- Nordic Walking
Water Sports at Parc del Segre:
- Inflatable canoes
Cross-Country Ski Resorts:
- Sant Joan de l´Erm
address: Sant Joan de l’Erm
25712 Vila i Vall de Castellbó (L’Alt Urgell)Tel: 34 973 29 80 15
Fax: 34 973 29 81 24
- Lles- Lles de Cerdanya
address:Cap del Rec, s/n
25726 Lles de Cerdanya (La Cerdanya)Tel: 34 973 29 30 49 / 34 639 38 02 33
Fax: 34 973 51 52 23
- Tuixén–la Vansa
address:Plaça Serra del Cadí,1
25717 Tuixén (L’Alt Urgell)Tel: 34 973 37 00 30 / 34 973 29 82 43
address:Nordic ski resort of Aransa
25726 Aransa (La Cerdanya)Tel: 34 973 29 30 51 / 34 693 510 463
Snow phone: 34 973 51 50 20
Arseguel is located in the north-east of the county of l’Alt Urgell and is a good representation of a typical mountain village of the Alt Urgell Pyrenees mountains.
The old part of the village, which is one of the best preserved historic quarters in in the Pyrenees, stands out for it’s ancient stone houses, with Arabic tiled roofs and pretty wooden balconies.
Aresguels Medieval roots are still evident in the architecture of its town center. And, conserved within some of the walls, streets and houses, of the old part of the village, are the remains of the 12th century Cadell Castle (Castell dels Cadell).
Behind the village the mighty snow-covered mountains of Cadí can be seen rising up in the background. In fact, this one of the prettier access points from which to enter the Natural Park of Cadí Moixeró.
Arèsguel is considered to be the Accordion Capital, as every summer this village plays host to the oldest folk music festival in Catalonia– the Trobada amb els Acordionistes del Pirineu, (Gathering of the Accordion Players of the Pyrenees).
Accordion players, groups and aficionados gather to enjoy tradional folk music from all over the world.
- The church of Santa Coloma
- – Has Romanesque elements combined with modifications relating to later periods and styles.
- Wool Factory– Fàbrica de Llanes (In nearby Pont d’Arsèguel)
- A traditional family-run business from the 18th century that still operates.
- C/ Pont, s/n
- 25722 Arsèguel (L’Alt Urgell)
- Tel: 973 384 009
- Tel: 902 10 11 10
- International Gathering of Accordionists of the PyreneesArsèguel
- (The Trobada amb els Acordionistes del Pirineu)
- Held the end of July every year, the last Saturday of the month.
- Accordion Museum
- C/ de la Font Vella, s/n
- 25722 Arséguel (L’Alt Urgell)
- Tel: 620 610879 – 699 649474
Coll de Nargó
The municipal territory of Coll de Nargó covers an extensive area in the south-west of the county of l’Alt Urgell.
The village of the name – Coll de Nargó – is very charming, with its ancient, narrow and steep winding streets, beautiful old buildings and great views of the mountains all over.
The main source of economic income here was once largely based around farming and forestry. However, in recent years, the local service sector has grown, especially with regards to rural tourism.
Consequently, you’ll find a good selection of accommodation, restaurants, and activities to choose from.
An interesting river rafting festival is held in Coll de Nargó on the third Sunday of every August. It commemorates and re-enacts the risky profession from the past, of transporting timber, and sometimes people, down the river, from town to town.
If you can’t make it to the festival, you can stop by the Museu dels Raiers, (River Rafters’ Museum). There you’ll be able to see various articles and objects from this traditional practice. all the records and memorabilia of this tradition , on display.
The museum is also on the Artisans Route (the Ruta dels Oficis d’Ahir).
Coll de Nargó has one of the highest concentrations of Romanesque monuments in all of Alt Urgell. The main one being the church of Sant Climent, which has been declared as a monument of historic and artistic interest. It’s located just outside of the village of Nargó, and near the road to Isona.
Some other churches worth seeing are; Sant Miquel de les Masies, Sant Martí de la Plana, Sant Romà de Valldarques, Sant Serni de Gavarra and Sant Maximí de Sallent.
They are all situated along the Via Romànica (Romanesque Way). This route runs from Perpignan to Bassella, and goes through both Spain and France.
Coll de Nargó Highlights
- Rafters Museum of Col de Nargó
Capella del Roser, s/n
25793 Coll de Nargó (L’Alt Urgell)
Tel: 973 383 048 – 636 417 678
- Rafters’ Descent Festival
Coll de Nargó
Held on the third Sunday in August – Two “rais” (wooden rafts) sail down the river from Colps de Fígols to El Pont d’Espia. The event ends with a big communal feast.
- K-T Hall: The last days of the Dinosaurs
C/ Unió, 10
25793 Coll de Nargó (L’Alt Urgell)
Tel: 973 383048 – 636 417678
- Fira del Rovelló
- Month: October
Festival and market of mushrooms and traditionally made products.
Look for the Saffron Milk Cap mushroom.
Held in October, usually on the 11th.
- Church of Sant Climent
– Romanesque building, with an interesting bell tower.
Josa i Tuixén
Josa i Tuixen, like Coll de Nargó, is also a municipal territory. It is located in the most eastern part of the county of l’Alt Urgell.
Also historically an agricultural and forestry based economy, Josa I Tuixén, has begun to develop its tourism services in recent years.
The creation of a Nordic ski resort, along with various rural houses, has helped to open up the municipality to new tourism opportunities.
El Museu de les Trementinaires (Herbal Remedies Museum), is worth a visit, if you’re in town. It has artifacts and stories of local women known as “trementinaires”, who used to travel around the country selling their handmade turpentine and herbal remedies.
The Romanesque architecture of this area includes; Sant Esteve de Tuixén, the chapel of Sant Jaume, which is next to the path leading to Josa; and the church of Santa Maria de Josa.
Josa i Tuixén Highlights
- Tuixent-Lavansa (Nordic ski resort)
- – More than thirty kilometers of sign-posted routes.
- I would also recommended taking a trip through the nearby Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park.
- Herb and Flower Remedy Museum
- Pl. Serra del Cadí, 1
- 25717 Josa i Tuixén (L’Alt Urgell)
- Tel: 973 370 030 Fax: 973 370 216
Fairs of Josa i Tuixén
- Fira de la Vall(Valley Fair)
- Month: December
- Traditionally prepared local products, and crafts. Including cheeses and herbal remedies.
- Held in Tuixent, around the second week in December.
Montferrer i Castellbò
Montferrer i Castellbò is the most extensive municipal territory in Alt Urgell. It offers some great Nordic skiing, a golf course designed by professional José María Olazábal, an important Romanesque church and the ruins of a priory.
The slopes of Sant Joan de l’Erm were some of the first of their kind to be opened in Spain. They boast more than thirty kilometers of well-marked routes through some outstanding surroundings.
The eighteen hole course, called Aravell Golf Andorra, is a local favorite and was designed by Spain’s own José María Olazábal in 1988.
The Romanesque architecture of the area includes; the collegiate church of Santa Maria de Castellbò, which was founded in 1436, and was one of the most important political centers in medieval Catalonia.
And the ruins of what was once the priory of Santa Maria de Costoja, and the place where the Viscounts Arnau and Ermessenda were buried, before they were dug up by the Spanish Inquisition forty years later, and accused of having been Cathars.
Montferrer i Castellbò Highlights
- Sant Joan de l’Erm– Nordic Ski resort
- Resort address: Sant Joan de l’Erm
- 25712 Vila i Vall de Castellbó (L’Alt Urgell)Tel: 34 973 29 80 15
- Fax: 34 973 29 81 24
- Aravell Golf Andorra
- Located 5 km from La Seu d’Urgell on the road to Lleida.
- Nearest town:
- 5km from La Seu d’Urgell
- Open daily from 9am to 7pm
- Closed on Tuesdays, except in high season.
- Number of holes: 18
- Par: 71
- Yellow markers: 5872m
- Red markers: 4936m
- 18 forats Av. Cadí nº2
- 25712 Aravell – (L’Alt Urgell)
- Tel: 34 973 360066 – Fax: 34 973 354448
Other interesting villages of Alt Urgell
- Historic center
- A maze of old narrow streets, with lots of hidden gems to discover. Including some recently discovered ruins.
- The Homilies (Homilies)
- Discovered in 1904, in the village rectory, they are
some of the oldest prose written in Catalan.
- The texts, known as the Homilies d’Organyà, correspond to six sermons containing commentaries about various gospels and epistles.
- They date back to the end of the 12th century.
- The originals are now conserved in the Biblioteca de Catalunya (Library of Catalonia), but there are reproductions for visitors to see in Organyà.
- They are on display in the Homilies exhibition hall, which also houses the local tourist office.
- The Megalithic, Dolmen route begins here.
- The collegiate church of Santa Maria d’Organyà(981-1010)
It was in this parish church that in 1904 the historian J.Miret i Sans discovered the Homilies d’Organyà; the oldest surviving document written in Catalan.
- Located in the south part of Alt Urgell, along the river Segre.
- The Corb Route: well-marked walking route. The path leads out of the village and continues via Grau de Porta to the striking Corb rock. The path then continues around the rock before returning along the same route back to Peramola.
- Church of Sant Miquel de Peramola, at the village cemetery, built in Lombard-style.
- Santa Maria de Castell-llebre, Church which stands on top of a rocky spur, with a unique square based belfry (bell tower) and twin windows.
Les Valls de Valira
Les Valls de Valira Highlights
- The second largest municipal territory in Alt Urgell.
- Located in the northern part of the county and on the border with Andorra.
- Good choice of accommodation; mainly rural houses.
- Museu del Pagès (Country Life Museum)
- Located at Cal Serni de Calbinyà, allows visitors to discover how people lived in a typical rural house.The museum is divided into eight separate parts, all of which are linked.
- It’s got interesting explanations about life in the country of the Pyrenees mountains. Including; cooking, agriculture, woodcutting and wood treatment; grape harvesting and work in the house. Everything from the killing of pigs and the making of butter, cheese, and wine, to bee keeping, hunting and fishing.
- Country People’s Museum
- Casa Serni (Calvinyà)
- 25798 Les Valls de Valira (L’Alt Urgell)
- Tel: 973 352 809
Valls de Valira has some of the most important Romanesque architecture in the county.
The most outstanding is the chevet (apse) of the church from the former Sant Serni de Tavèrnoles monastery, at the village of Anserall (on the way to Andorra), which has been declared a monument of historic and artistic interest.
It’s located on an old path that used to connect Andorra to La Seu d’Urgell, and was called “Tavèrnoles”, probably because there used to be several inns or taverns along it which must have been set up here for travellers.
Those interested in visiting this site can do so either by driving or by walking from Anserall. You need to ask for the key to the building, from the information center.
- Church of Sant Martí d’Ars- has a unique round bell tower, and the
- Sant Martí de Bescaran- Lombard-style bell tower
- Santa Eulàlia d’Asnurri
- Sant Eugènia d’Argolell
- Sant Pere d’Os de Civís
- Sant Serni de Tavèrnoles- It’s also called Sant Sadurní de Tavèrnolas
A Romanesque monastery with Visigoth origins, consecrated between the year 782 and 799. It’s located in the Village of Anserall.
- Sant Martí d’Ars- Located in the valley of Sant Joan, in the village of d’Ars. 11th century churh with pre-Romanesque features, and an outstanding and, very unique cylindrical bell tower.
Gastronomy of Alt Urgell
- high quality dairy products likes cheeses and butters.
- fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms
- excellent trout from its rivers
- cured meats, and typical pork sausages.
Local and Traditional dishes
- Thick bean soup (escudella), bean casserole, pork ear and snout
- bullock a l’adoba
- quails in grapevine leaves
- jugged hare
- stewed veal
- codfish a la llauna with chickpeas
- sweet and sour ham
- traditionaly made cheese and butte
- pork sausages (bull, tupinet, etc.)
- river trout, etc.
Other Museums and Exhibitions in Alt Urgell
- Motorcycle Museum
Carretera C-14, km 134
25289 Bassella (L’Alt Urgell)
Tel: 973 462 731 Fax: 973 462 721
- Old Flour Mill of Montferrer
Carretera de Castellbò, s/n
25711 Montferrer i Castellbò (L’Alt Urgell)
Tel: 973 351 343 Fax: 973 353 536
- Ice Well
Partida de Cacarells
25790 Oliana (L’Alt Urgell)
Tel: 973 470 035 – 973 470 573 Fax: 973 470 283
- Mountain Vine and Wine Museum
Antic Cortal de cal Teixidoret
25723 Pont de Bar (L’Alt Urgell)
Tel: 973 384044
- La Poció dels Minairons
Festival displaying the mythological and magic world of the Pyrenees mountains.
Held during December and in early January.
Catalonia Pyrenees Culture Guides:
Catalonia Pyrenees County Guides: