In Catalonia – Spain: Discovering Escornalbou, Falset and Siurana

On a very windy, chilly and cristal celar day we explore the monastery Escornalbou, the small town of Falset and gorgeous Siurana perched on a steep rock. All these places we find near Hospitalet de l’Infant, where – in the apartment of our friends – we spend a few days end October until mid November 2016 .

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Castillo-Monasterio de Sant Miguel d’Escornalbou

A sinuous road takes us up to the Castillo-Monasterio de Sant Miguel d’Escornalbou on about 800m above sea level. The monastery is perched on a pass with the chapel Santa Barbara above it. We look at the monastery from the viewpoint across.

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From here we also have a gorgeous view of the mountains…

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… and of the sea.

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The monastery was built in the 12th/13th century. First Augustinian monks lived here and later it was inhabited by Franciscan monks. In 1835 the monastery was confiscated.

This is the façade of the Romanesque church.

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Inside we find Maria and her son.

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From the cloister there is an impressive view of the Mediterranean Sea. It must have been a pleasure to pray and meditate here.

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In the 17/18t century the castle has been added to the monastery. It was in use until about 1980. Mr Toda lived here. I am impressed by the luxury and in particular by the library…

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… and by the view from the window.

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Perhaps it was a bit lonely to live up here.

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Shopping and lunch in Falset

We continue our way on the sinuous path through the mountains to stop in Falset. This is the central town of the Montsant and Priorat area. The name “Falset” comes from sickle – and their are two sickles in their coat of arms (see Wikipedia and Miquel Hudin: “Vinologue Montsant”, Leavenworth Press 2014, p. 64).

My “Vinologue” tells me that Vins I Olis offers a good selection of wines from the area of Monsant and Priorat on one spot. We buy some cheese…

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… and some wine – in particular I look for “Scala Dei” (Granatxa), and with the advice of the shopkeeper, Marc, I acquire a selection of cuvées with local and international grapes.

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Marc, reserves a table for us in the El Cairet in the old city center – for 13:30, which is early here. The restaurant opens so early – just for us.

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It is a small and cosy place.

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The restaurant owner is proud of the meals that she prepares with great care using regional products. Hence we order the local menus suggested by her. We particularly loved the hazelnut soup, the autumn salad with dried fruit, the bacalao (codfish) a la plancha and the fig dessert on puff pastry. This restaurant is a place to remember and return!

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Siurana – perched on a steep rock – an Eldorado for climbers

We leave Falset and using sinuous roads we drive to the small town Siurana perched on a rock above the river Siurana. Campers are bordering the road and climbers are hanging in the cliffs or crags. This is an eldorado for climbers. The recent edition of “Insipiration”, the newspaper of one of “my” Swiss outdoor shops, talks about “Sehnsucht Siurana” or “Longing for Siurana”. Also the Internet is full of information about the climbing routes (e.g. planet mountain). One route is called after the princess Abdelaza that jumped down with her horse, because she did not want to be captured by the Christians, when they conquered Siurana in 1150.

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On three sides the village is surrounded by cliffs. Using the small gate we enter and stroll through the narrow streets.

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The Romanesque church Santa Maria is located above the cliffs.

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The portal has a modestly decorated tympanum with Christ, the sun, the moon, two lions and eight persons, presumably apostles.

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Across we see the table mountain Montsant under clouds. It is chilly and very windy in Siurana.

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Before leaving we have a cafecito in the friendly bakery at Cornudellas. We are by far the oldest guests. We are surrounded by young climbers that are taking a warm drink before spending the night in their campers. We are happy to return to our warm apartment in Hospitalet, and I look forward to having a swim in the heated public inside pool.

 

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