When you think about Spain, lush green landscapes are probably not the first thing that come to mind, but that’s exactly what you can find at Cardona. Located in the province of Barcelona, with the foothills of the Pyrenees eloquently placed in the distance, this picturesque town is a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city of Barcelona. Full of important and historic medieval buildings dating as far back as the 18th century, it’s main feature is the magnificent castle which is part-palace part-monastery.
This municipal was also home to the Dukes of Cardona, who were some of the most important members of the Crown of Aragon, second to the Royal Family itself during the 15th century. It was three centuries later that Cardona would become the last stronghold against the Bourbon troops of Philip V. In fact, the stronghold was so strong that even the troops of Napoleon couldn’t seize it.
Travellers to Cardona can visit the “La Salina”, a breathtakingly hypnotic valley of grand proportions consisting of rock-salt, iron oxide, and clay. You can also penetrate into the underground lakes and admire how nature has sculpted the stalactite caves. Don’t forget to visit the Museu de la Sal too, you’ll learn all about the history of this wonderful village.
Strabo, the Greek geographer (who lived some years before Christ), and the roman writer Aulus Gellius, both praised the rock-salt vein of Cardona as “a mountain of pure salt that just grows the more it is extracted from”. The romans, who suspected that the salt there grew in abundance, managed to excavate some of their deepest mines shafts and galleries ever in this landmark.
Don’t forget to visit Sant Vinceç Collegiate Church part of the castle, built by 1040 and is one of the roman gems of Catalonia and is the resting places of Duke Ferran I and Count Joan Roman Folc I. There are still the remains of the Gothic construction and courtyard. Part of the castle is now a hotel, so if you really want you can stay in the town, what better place to stay in the attraction itself? Of course, you could also stay in the city of Barcelona in some of the accommodation Barcelona has to offer, and rent a car from there, this will enable you to not only visit this lovely town, but other surrounding ones too where a lot of history has been tucked away.
You can visit the surroundings of the neighboring town, Bercelonesa, which also has a magnitude of days out, with visits to places like charming old farmhouses, and the Natural Park of Cadí Moixeró. The source of the river of Llobregat also shapes the nearby landscape which will be a sight that you will never forget.
Another trip you can take is to the Monastery of Montserrat, which is home to the Black Madonna, a depiction of the Virgin Mary believed by some to have been carved in Jerusalem during the beginning of the Church, though it is more likely late 12th century. What’s more, the monastery is located in an area of mountainous beauty, the perfect location for landscape photographers.
So when you visit the province of Barcelona, you don’t have to just stick to the city, adventure out and see what not many other do, you will not be disappointed and you’ll gain an experience like no other.
Harriet Freeman has been living in Barcelona for over 5 years is a tourism specialist for northern Spain at OK Apartment Barcelona, she also runs her own travel blog about Barcelona called Things to do Barcelona.