El Pallars Sobirà is a mountainous county in the province of Lleida, in the central Pyrenees and in the northwest of Catalonia. Most of its territory is a nature reserve, and therefore, a protected area.
This protected zone includes the beautiful Aigüestortes National Park and Sant Maurici Lake, the Pyrenean Natural Park, and the Natural Reserve of La Noguera Pallaresa – Collegats.
Among these protected areas and parks, you’ll also find the highest peak in Catalonia, the Pica d’Estats, and the largest lake in the Pyrenees, called Certascan.
With such great landscapes, it’s easy to see why outdoor sports are popular here. Favorites of the area are; water sports, skiing and hiking.
Like many counties in the Pyrenees mountains, the patrimony of El Pallars goes back to prehistory, and the evidence remains today in the form of the many megalithic monuments that have been discovered.
You’ll also find castles, watchtowers, hermitages, Romanesque bridges, sanctuaries, churches, deserted towns, and picturesque villages.
Pallars Sobirà is also known for its proud artisan food production. Many farms throughout the county produce a variety of hand-made foods, especially dairy products like cheeses and yogurts.
As for meat products, they’re all natural here, and carefully laboured by locals to create delicious dry sausages, pâtés, and even pâté bread.
For breakfast why not go for some home-made jams and jellies, and after dinner treat yourself to a glass of the delicious local spirits.
Sort is the capital of the county of Pallars Sobirà, and is also considered to be a reference point in the Catalonia Pyrenees mountains for lovers of adventure sport, especially those involved with the water.
The name Sort is actually Catalan for “luck”. And, in recent years, this town has actually lived up to its fortunate name.
La Bruixa d’Or (The Gold Witch)- the local lottery shop, has sold more than an average number of winning tickets, including the winning National Lottery ticket twice. As a result, Sort has become a kind of lottery-lovers tourist attraction.
Other than its lucky atmosphere, and excellent outdoor sports, Sort boasts a charming old center, a nice church and a small medieval castle.
Due to its up-market clientele, and seekers of top-notch water sports, Sort can get to be a little expensive. Therefore, it may not be the best place in the Catalonia Pyrenees to hang around for a long time, unless of course, you’re here specifically for the adventure sports action.
- Water sports in the river Noguera Pallaresa
- The main street in the old town center.
- The Castle,(Els Comtes dels Pallars)-built in the Middle Ages, located in the old town center.
- Street market, every Tuesday, in the center.
- January 24- Feria de las Pieles
- May 1 – Aplec de la Mare de Déu del Soler
- Throughout the months of May and June, there are many spring gatherings in this county
- First Sunday in August – Fiesta Mayor – Main Festival of the year.
Located at the heart of the Escrita river valley, Espot is a town with typical Pyrenees mountain architecture. Its artistic heritage includes buildings such as the parish church of Santa Llogaia and the tower of Moros, which was a defence tower in the Middle Ages.
The town constitutes the main entrance of the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, a rich natural space marked by white water rivers, high mountain springs, and more than a hundred “estanys”, or lakes. Gorgeous settings, such as the Encantats peak (2,982 m), are the ideal surroundings for outdoor sports such as hiking, climbing and mountaineering.
With the first snowfalls, the Espot Esquí ski resort becomes the centre of attention, with first-class facilities for skiing and other winter sports.
The natural surroundings, and location, of the village of Esterri D’Àneu make it a perfect place in the Pyrenees to practice all kinds of adventure sports, or to set out on some great day trips.
The Aigüestortes National Park is nearby, and so are some excellent ski resorts.
The old part of the village is a very well-preserved example of rural Catalonia Pyrenees mountain architecture, with its big strong, stone houses, charming network of narrow streets and small, sunny squares.
There is a lovely double arch Romanesque Bridge over the Noguera Pallaresa river, and an interesting Ecological museum called- Ecomuseu de les valls d’Àneu.
Choice of accommodation and restaurants is good here, and a host of cultural events are held in town throughout the year.
Esterri d´Àneu Highlights:
- Church of Sant Vicenç (15th century
- Casa Gassia
- Ecomuseu de les valls d’Àneu (Ecological museum of the valleys of Àneu)
- Calle Mayor (The Main street)
- The town cross (on the main street)
- Avenue Vora Riu
- market every Sunday
- Lunes de Pascua (Easter Monday) – Feria de la Pascueta.
- Fiesta Mayor. second Sunday in August
- Feria del ganado.- October 15
Rialp is a pretty little Pyrenees mountain village that had its origins in the building of the castle, which sits on a hill to the right of the river Noguera Pallaresa.
In the past, this place was famous for its crafty artisans: chair makers, tailors, tin workers, musicians, saddle makers, farmers, and carpenters. These days the town has turned itself towards tourism.
In winter, the ski resort of Portainé is popular, and throughout the rest of the year, people come to do all kinds of outdoor activities, especially those related to the river.
Not be missed while in Rialp, is a visit to the street of “the Mig”. Here you can see a wonderfully preserved Gothic arcade, with its series of medieval stone arches, and old family houses.
Also be sure to visit the Raval, the church “Ntra. Mrs. of Valldeflors”, and the castle ruins, from which there is a magnificent view of the village and valley.
Rialp is also a good place to use as a base in Pallars Sobira, for some nice walks that follow old pathways linking nearby villages.
Try the path that sets out to the Valley of Àssua, to AigüesTortes and the Lake of Sant Maurici National Park, or the one to the Natural Park of the High Pyrenees.
- Castillo de Rialp. Castle of Rialp
- Pasarela peatonal al Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu (Pedestrian Path which leads to the National Park)
- Iglesia (Church) de Ntra. Senyora de Valldeflors
- Calle del Medio (Carrer del Mig) Porticada (Arched Street)
- Calle del Raval.
- Iglesia de Sant Iscle i Santa Victòria, en Surp(Located in a Nearby village)
- 15th of August
The little town of Llessui is located 12km northwest of Sort, and is known in the Pyrenees mountains for it’s traditional sheep shearing fair, held in June.
There are some Roman ruins here, pretty architecture, and outstanding scenery. And the close proximity of Aigüestortes National Park, and the ski resorts of Baqueira Beret, Port Ainé and Sort, make Llesui a convenient and peaceful place to use as a base for winter, or adventure sports holidays.
An interesting site to visit is the Casa del Pastor (House of the Shepherd). It’s a kind of museum in which you can learn about the customs of the people from Pallars Sobira, and overall, about the life of shepherds, from past to present.
Rural living, country cooking, hand-made goat cheese, and artisan bread making are specialties of this charming village. So, if you’re looking to eat well, relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Pyrenees mountains, Llesui is the ideal place for you.
- La Casa del Pastor (Museum of the Shepherds) Located in the old school of the town.
- Sheep shearing Fair (June)
- Town Festivals- (last week of September)
- Aigüestortes National Park
Tornafort is a typical, traditional village of the Pallars Sobirà region. Set a at a height of 1,300m, this village is surrounded by heavenly scenery, and is an excellent place to set off on some exhilarating excursions through the forest.