Itinerary 5

BERGA - MONTSERRAT (180 km)

Regions: Berguedà / Solsonès / Bages

1. Berga

To see

An excellent starting point for Itinerary 5 is the town of Berga (16,500 inhabitants) which is the capital of the Berguedà region. It is located in the middle of the region and is the centre and axis of all its economic, social life and communications. The river Llobregat is born to the north of this region (near Castellar de n’Hug there are the sources of the Llobregat River) and is its backbone. This region has an impressive geological level difference. On the northern back of Berga, the scenery is pure geology: mountain ranges, mountains, peaks, hills, ravines full of forest, with heights ranging from 1,200 m to 2,400 m. It is very suitable for a contemplative visit of nature in its wildest, free and fiery state. On the other hand, in the south of Berga there is a plain with low rolling hills, down the Llobregat River which is the back of the medal.

When arriving in Berga the first thing that we suggest doing is to go up to the Sanctuary of Sta. Maria de Queralt. The road passes through the shady part of the Queralt Mountain full of wild pine forests and is delightful. Once up the panoramic view is magnificent: to the north we will see a colossal amphitheatre of mountains and to the south the smooth and rolling plain of the Valley of the Llobregat. Unforgettable. The Sanctuary is a religious referent for the whole region.

Once returned to the city of Berga, you can take the route called “a walk around Berga” that offers a circular route through the old quarter of the city that was born in the 12th Century at the foot of its castle. In the month of June, a festival called La Patum is celebrated, declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005, which is a popular ritual festival of fire, dance and pyrotechnics reminiscent of ancient, mythical (spring regeneration), historical (struggles of Moors and Christians) and religious (celebration of Corpus Christi) celebrations. For more information visit the Town Hall website: www.ajberga.cat

The mines of Cercs

Take the C 16 north to Cercs. At Km 107.4 we will turn off after the Cercs Power Station in the direction of Sant Corneli on the BV4025 (4.5 km) and Fígols road. There we recommend a visit to the Museum of the Mines of Cercs and the visit by tram in the Mine of St. Romà.

The northern or pre-Pyrenean part of the Berguedà was known in the past to be the largest lignite mining in Catalonia. After almost 150 years of mining coal, all the mines were closed down in 1977 because of their low economic profitability (lignite was generally of low calorific value). Now you can visit the Museum and a mine transformed into centres of interpretation of this human activity so important in another time for the region. Recommendable. It is a good lesson in social and economic history of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century.

Accommodation

HCC Hotel Ciutat de Berga (Berga)***

2. Sant Llorenç de Morunys

To see

You will continue your itinerary along the B 4241 from Berga in the direction of St. Llorenç de Morunys and you will enter the Region of El Solsonès. This road in the words of Josep Pla is: “… one of the most beautiful and impressive in the country, a road that sticks in the pre-Pyrenean belt. It offers a continuous display of beautiful landscapes, superb panoramas, impressive ascents and descents “.

You will arrive in St. Llorenç de Morunys which is a typical old highland village and has gone from being a remote and closed place to being a ski resort and mountaineering of great volume. It has two sensational charms: One is the geographical environment: at its back the Port del Comte in gigantic shapes (with a ski resort), facing the steep and sloping cliffs of the Serra de Bastets and the imposing Serra de Busa and down at its feet the dam of the Llosa del Cavall, fed by the River Cardener, which flows down towards the Valley of the Lord facing south; The other charm is the Monastery of St. Llorenç de Morunys (10thCentury) and the baroque chapel of the parish church of St. Llorenç, exceptional work and the last great work of Catalan Baroque (18th Century). You will be amazed to see these lost jewels in a place so remote, cold, inhospitable, mountainous and ambushed. A marvel. If you have a little more time, it will be stimulating to escape to the Sources of the river Cardener, which are located one kilometre from the village of La Coma (the C 462), in an idyllic spot at 1,050 m altitude. You can check it out! For more information visit the Town Hall website www.ajuntamentdesantllorencdemorunys.org

Sanctuary of El Lord

To contemplate in all its majesty and infinity the Valley of Lord going up to the Sanctuary of El Lord, a privileged and fascinating pulpit is a must do. Take the LV 4241 and in about 3 km you will find the indicator of the Sanctuary. Follow this asphalted track to a dead end. Leave the car there and climb up the stepped stone path. There are some people who claim that on clear days, one can see up to the region of Tarragona. The panoramic view is majestic, abrupt, broken, wooded and infinite. You can alternatively go down the forest path to retrieve the car. Everything is within walking distance. If you do, we can almost say that you will repeat it sooner or later!

Accommodation

Hotel El Monegal (St. Llorenç de Morunys) **
Hotel Piteus (St. Llorenç de Morunys) *

3. Solsona

To see

From St. Llorenç de Morunys you will take the C 462 that runs along the dam of La llosa de cavall, of emerald waters, until crossing the dam and following a good stretch the course of the river Cardener. It will lead you to Solsona, capital of the region of Solsonès.

Solsona

It is a small town (9,000 inhabitants) but cosy, quiet and sunny. With remnants of walls and entrance towers to the old town which is a labyrinth of streets with two important squares: the Plaça Major and the plaça of St. Joan, with huge mansions of well carved stone and quiet and peaceful corners.

It is rewarding to walk and virtually relive its past. Despite its small size, it is an episcopal Seat and has an imposing cathedral (12th Century) that is of gothic nave without columns and Romanesque apses. It has a baroque chapel dedicated to the Mare de Déu del Claustre, Virgin patron of Solsona. In the episcopal palace is the Diocesan Museum which is a good complement to that of Vic with respect to Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque (among others). For more details visit the Town Hall website: www.ajsolsona.cat

Castellvell

Once in Solsona, do not forget to climb this old castle fortress located on the top of a hill visible from all over the city to enjoy a panoramic view of much of the Solsonès. Built initially in the 11th Century, it belonged to the powerful house of the Folc Viscounts of Cardona. It has a lovely Gothic chapel. It is a magnificent balcony to contemplate the whole south of the Solsonès wavy mosaic of woods and fields of cultivation.

Olius. Church of Sant Esteve and crypt. Modernist cemetery of Bernardí Martorell

From Solsona you have to take the opportunity to escape to this unique place. You will not regret it. Take the C 26 until you find an indicator on the left. This Romanesque church dates from the 12th Century and its crypt is simply fascinating in proportion, simplicity, beauty and rusticity. A marvel. Very close there is the famous cemetery designed by the modernist architect Bernardí Martorell, a great example of integration with nature, unique in Catalonia.

Accommodation

Hotel Sant Roc****
Hotel Freixera****

4. Cardona

To see

Now you will continue your itinerary to Cardona. You will have to head back returning to the C 26 road in the direction of Solsona until you reach the C 55 that you will not exit off of until Cardona following the course of the river Cardener and you will have entered the Bages region.

Cardona itself needs no presentation. Its presentation card is the impressive castle skyline, which recalls the long medieval history of the very powerful Folc de Cardona family (extinguished in the late 17th Century), closely linked to the possession of the salt mines. Of course, you have to climb the partly reconstructed castle to appreciate and admire the complicated construction of this immense fortress-castle, with its ramps, walls, redoubts, canonical Romanesque church of St. Vicenç, crypt, mausoleum, ramparts and tower Homage or de la Minyona etc. Now there is a National Parador that gives some life to this impressive castle. Visit the Town Hall website: www.cardona.cat

The salt mine

You will get there following the C 55 to reach the local road C 1410z that will take you to the Salina. Already known and exploited by the Romans. It is a very curious geological phenomenon that for centuries, has provided a very abundant deposit of almost pure salt, white with streaks of greenish and reddish colours (magnesium and potassium) and argillaceous. It is a singular case in the world the fact that a salt deposit protrudes to the surface in the form of an iceberg peak. The old mine was exploited from the earliest antiquity for the salt (Sodium Chloride) but at the beginning of the 20th Century it was mainly exploited for its important content of Silvina (Potassium Chloride) and Carnalite (Potassium Chloride and Magnesium) that were extracted to depths of more than 1,000 m in extreme conditions. Finally, the mine was closed at the end of the 20th Century. Now it has become the Cultural Park of the Mountain of Salt. The visit is memorable. Once inside, at 86 m below the surface, you will be surprised by the beauty and colour of the forms as well as seeing that there is no support to hold up the galleries and some immense dome chambers. When you leave, you will wonder why you had not been there before!

Accommodation

Hotel Bremon (Cardona) ***
Parador de Cardona (Cardona) ****

5. Manresa

To see

Continue along the C 55 following the course of the River Cardener to Manresa, capital of the region of Bages.

Manresa. It is a city of 70,000 inhabitants, active, attractive and with character. This city was formed from the walled and primitive enclosure of the Puig Cardener and it is from the River Cardener and its elegant Medieval Old Bridge that offers its most characteristic profile with the great work of the Basilica Collegiate Church of Santa Maria, of Cathedral proportions, which is one of the most important Gothic churches in Catalonia. Apart from this monumental landmark, Manresa has an ancient and diverse cultural heritage: medieval walls and churches, baroque buildings and modernist-style factories and houses, the squares of the Historical Center. We must add the Sèquia de Manresa, a marvel of medieval engineering still in operation.

Manresa is the centre of the so-called Pla de Bages which is a wavy plain that occupies the centre of the region, the triangular space between the Cardener and the Llobregat. In fact, the Cardener flows into the Llobregat River near Sant Vicenç de Castellet. Visit the Town Hall website: www.manresa.cat

Monastery Sant Benet de Bages

Once you arrive in Manresa it is very easy to take a trip to the Monastery of St. Benet de Bages. You will arrive by taking the N 141C until Sant Fruitós de Bages. Two km from there, you will enter the space called Món Sant Benet, very pleasant, which combines in an excellent way cultural tourism, leisure and gastronomic research, designed and open to all audiences. The icon is the ancient Benedictine Romanesque monastery founded in the 10th Century and that was governed by the abbot Miró, brother of Ramon Berenguer I count of Barcelona in the 11th Century. Completely renovated recently, it is a historical and architectural gem. There is also a modernist part that was the summer residence of the painter Ramon Casas.

In addition, there is the Alicia Foundation, an international centre for gastronomic research with a restaurant open to the public.

Accommodation

Hotel Món Sant Benet (St. Benet de Bages)****

6. Montserrat

To see

The last stage of your itinerary will be the mountain of Montserrat. You will go back towards Manresa until you reach the C 55 that will take you to Monistrol de Montserrat following the course of the Llobregat River. Once there, you will have three options to get to the Montserrat Monastery: by road with vehicle, by a rack train (15 minutes) or by cable car (5 minutes), always from Monistrol de Montserrat.

The mountain of Montserrat is a singular, unique geological phenomenon. It is a mountain range of about 10 km long and a highest peak of 1,236 m (Sant Jeroni) formed by innumerable swollen boulders, rounded by the atmospheric erosion, of conglomerate stone (pebbles, sands and very hard calcareous cement) that emerge from a base mainly wooded, but other types of vegetation also give colour and dress the mountain: white pine, maple, serbals, linden, hazelnut, holly, arbutus, boxwood, oak and yew. Its profile lives up to its name: Sawn Mountain! It is a protected natural park since 1987. It is a paradise for climbers, speleologists and hikers. It is one of the icons of Catalonia and centre of religious pilgrimage and a popular tourist destination. Visit the Abbey website: www.abadiamontserrat.net

The Benedictine Monastery

It was founded by Abbot Oliba, Bishop of Vic and Abbot of Ripoll in the 11th Century. The present state of the magnificent architectural ensemble of the Basilica and the Abbey dates back to the early 20th Century. It has always been a powerful centre of irradiation of spirituality, study (publications of magazines and Publishing Company), music, liturgy and Catalan identity of high level. The black Virgin of Montserrat is the Virgin Patroness of Catalonia. The children choir of Montserrat is known and recognized around the world for their musical excellence.

Do not forget to pay a short visit to the small but valuable museum of Montserrat that comes from donations from individuals, from the same artists, etc. Its content ranges from Biblical archaeology, to paintings and art objects of modernity.

Trekking. Last but not least, there, we also recommend doing some walking on the various paths that lead to the many hermitages on the mountain. One of the most popular is the path that goes from the hermitage of Sant Joan to that of Sant Jeroni. It’s like traveling in a dream in the woods halfway between heaven and earth!

Accommodation

Hotel Mas del Puig (Castellbell i Vilar)
Hotel Abat Cisneros (Montserrat) ***

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