Castles in Catalonia: buildings that come to life
There are many ways to visit and discover Catalonia. Here we suggest visiting its medieval castles, to be found throughout this Region in northeastern Spain, from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea. There are many different visits and routes, some of which are guided. Here we suggest two of them: the Lleida Castles Route, and the Route of the Templars, in Tarragona. Take note.
In the Middle Ages, feudal lords, beautiful maidens and valiant soldiers populated castles which, centuries later, now open their gates and portcullises to you. In Catalonia there are some 600 medieval fortresses, many of which are open for visits all year round.
If you explore the castles of Lleida, a province known as the "Castile of Catalonia” for its prolific number of fortifications, you will find Montsonís, Montclar, Florejacs, Pallargues, Vicfred and Mur: castles that make up this guided tour. On these visits you will learn about everyday life and customs in the Middle Ages, the history of the castles themselves, and anecdotes related with them. But there is more: if you like, you can also take part in cultural activities that go from concerts to courses and workshops, conferences, and medieval and gastronomic events. You can also stay at some of these stone castles, now converted into luxury hotels or restaurants. At the tourist offices you will find detailed information on opening times, prices and guided tours.
Tarragona, land of the Templars
Further south, in Tarragona, you can go on the Route of the Templars. This was a military order created to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land in the Middle Ages, and they left behind a major legacy in this part of Spain. Visit Miravet, a small village on the banks of the Ebro River, whose stunning castle dominates the surrounding landscape. The castle was the last stronghold of the Templar knights in Catalonia in the 14th century, and is one of the best examples of Medieval Catalonian military architecture. Explore its rooms and walls, its towers and watchtowers, and let your imagination travel back to a time of kings and warriors. Head up to its highest point, where you can enjoy stunning views. In August, this castle is the stage for a theatre production, The seige of Miravet, which recreates the legendary eight-month seige that the Templars suffered before finally surrendering to king Jaime II.
Less than 40 kilometres away, in Tortosa, there is another Templar fortress, now a Parador Hotel: La Suda Castle. From here there are views over the city and the beautiful surroundings of the Ebro River. Make the most of the occasion to explore its old town and see the Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace buildings. There are many more castles to be found the length of the Costa Dorada coast. One is in Ulldecona, an excellent example of military architecture; another in Tamarit, built on an outcrop jutting out into the sea; also in Altafulla, or in Torredembarra, which has a beautiful 16th-century Renaissance fortification.
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