The Garrotxa – Catalonia (Spain)
LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
The Garrotxa is a region in the Pyrenean foothills. It forms part of the province of Girona, near both the sea and the mountainous regions of the country (1). Covering an area of 734.6 km², and with a population of 51,106, it is made up of twenty-one municipalities (2).
The Garrotxa’s climate is that of a Mediterranean mid-mountain region with abundant rainfall throughout the year. Winters are cold and dry (4°C - 7°C) and the summers cool (17°C - 22°C), the temperature during the rest of the year is quite balanced throughout the region(3). Holm oak, oak and beech trees are the most frequently found vegetation all round the territory (4).
(1) Regional Council of the Garrotxa
(2) Demographic and economic data for the region of the Garrotxa (IDESCAT, Institut d’Estadística de Catalunya)
(3) The weather in the region
(4) Tourism board website for the Garrotxa: ‘Tourism Garrotxa. The Region of the Volcanoes’ (outdoor activities, ecotourism, culture, cuisine, accommodation, activities, parties and festivals, music, museums, etc.)
HISTORY AND HERITAGE
The territory’s origins go back to the Palaeolithic period. There are also (later) indications of populations in the sepulchral caves of the first metal ages, although the Iberian period is evident in various towns (Besalú or Mieres), as well as the Roman footprint (Villa of Can Ring). Since 1304 and the division of Catalonia into veguerias, this region forms part of Besalú. Centuries later, with the provincial division, it was included in the province of Girona, and then in the 20th century with the 1936 subdivision into regions, came the establishment of the Garrotxa.
WHAT TO VISIT
To visit the Garrotxa is to contemplate history and read the passage of time through its medieval towns and villages, and the centuries of art and architecture from all periods, while being surrounded by nature as you stroll through its parks.
With a rich cultural tradition and surrounded by the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, every year Olot hosts recognised cultural, festive and leisure activities.
The hospice, the renaissance Carme cloisters – declared Cultural Feature of National Interest- and the Montsacopa volcano- icon of the city of Olot, with 360° panoramic views unique in the region- are idiosyncratic locations of the city centre.
Jewels of Modernism
Modernism is the pearl of Olot’s architectural heritage with buildings like Casa Pujador, Casa Gaietà, Casa Escubós, Casa Gassiot or Casa Solà-Morales – designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
As could not be any other way, the Volcano Museum explains this geological phenomenon and its historical relationship with the people of Olot. For art lovers the Garrotxa Museum shows the best landscapes of artists of the School of Olot (Vayreda, Berga and Boix), posters by Ramon Casas and sculptures by Clarà, Blay and Leonci Quera.
LA FAGEDA D’EN JORDÀ
Surrounded by a good part of the Garrotxa´s volcanoes, this beech wood situated on a lava track of the Croscat turns into a chromatic festival which – as warned by the poet Joan Maragall – does not leave the wandering walker indifferent: Prey to a sweet forgetfulness of the entire world / in the silence of that profound place / and he does not think of leaving, or he does so in vain / prisoner of the beech wood of Jordà / prisoner to its silence and greenness.
THE GARROTXA VOLCANIC ZONE NATURAL PARK
The Natural Park is unique on the peninsula: with nearly thirty walking itineraries, the majority of which are signposted, allowing one to penetrate into its natural mysteries, or to go by foot to any other point of the Garrotxa or nearby regions such as the Ripollès or the Alt Empordà.
THE ‘CARRILET’ CYCLE LANE. THE GREEN TRAIL
Exclusive to cyclists and walkers, it follows the route of the old train line which connected Girona and Olot. Without losing sight of the volcanoes, various places of cultural and scenic interest allow one to discover charming towns on the way to Girona, very near the sea.
OTHER TOWNS OF INTEREST
Crossed by two rivers it is one of the most charming towns of the region and one of the best conserved historical and artistic medieval ensembles of Catalonia. Special mention must be given to the Jewish quarter, the emblematic Romanic stone bridge over the River Fluvià, the old church of the monastery of Saint Pere (12th century) and the bath house.
Castellfollit de la Roca
Raised above an imposing basalt ravine, 50 metres above the River Fluvià, this town of narrow streets rewards one with extraordinary views, as well as being one of the entrances to the Natural Park.
La Vall d’en Bas
Holm oak, oak, and beech woods, meadows and
mountain crests make up the scenery of this valley, with one of the most fertile soils of the country. The Santa Magdalena Massif and the Puigsacalm draw a characteristic outline, permitting one to contemplate a good part of the Catalan territory from their summits.
Sant Joan les Fonts
This municipality, located at the midway point of the roads that connect Girona with Olot, Figueres and Camprodon, communicates with the busiest ski slopes of Catalonia. At the same time, its architectonic, natural and geological richness make this place an obligatory stop for history lovers.
WHAT TO DO
The breadth of possibilities offered by this region demonstrates that one visit is never enough to exploit all its hidden corners.
HOT AIR BALLOON TRIPS
One of the most charismatic activities available in the Garrotxa, allowing one to enjoy an exceptional perspective of the Natural Park, the volcanoes or the ‘Fageda d´en Jordà’ (Beech Wood of Jordà).
ITINERARIES ON FOOT
Hiking is an ideal activity to be carried out among the natural landscapes of the Garrotxa. The Roman road of Capsacosta, the Camí Ral from Vic to Olot or the Route of Santiago de Compostela are some examples of the rich network of routes offered by this territory.
MINIATURE TRAIN TRIPS
The hidden corners of the Garrotxa ask to be discovered without haste, at the rhythm marked by the serenity of its towns. Various tourist train routes allow one to adapt the route enjoying all the idyllic landscapes available, with one’s family or friends.
One of the region’s strengths is, without doubt, its cuisine; and its seasonal produce is a symbol of identity. Volcanic cooking – ambassador for the gastronomy of the Garrotxa – shares prominence with the ‘remença’ style of cooking. However, its cold meats, cheeses, ratafia, coca with ‘llardons’ (pork crackling, potatoes from Olot, beans from Santa Pau... The Cold Meats Fair, the Origins Fair or the Ratafia Fair are unavoidable annual dates to genuinely get to know the cuisine of the Garrotxa.
TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF THE GARROTXA
- Castellfollit de la Roca
- Maià de Montcal
- Montagut i Oix
- Les Planes d’Hostoles
- Les Preses
- Sales de Llierca
- Sant Aniol de Finestres
- Sant Feliu de Pallerols
- Sant Ferriol
- Sant Jaume de Llierca
- Sant Joan les Fonts
- Santa Pau
- Vall d’en Bas
- Vall de Bianya
TELEPHONE NUMBERS AND LINKS OF INTEREST
Emergency telephone numbers in Olot
Local police: 972 27 91 33
Olot Town Hall
Regional Council of the Garrotxa