Catalunya


Catalunya, Catalonia, Cataluña…has it all
from  Barcelona’s vibrant culture to the stunning coasts of Costa
Brava and Costa Dorada up to the Pyrenees a landscape as diverse and
stunning as any found in Europe.

Catalunya Map  

Catalunya has a culture
of its own most evident in its language, catalán, deriving from Latin as
the Spanish, French, Italian or Portuguese languages do. 
Cataluña’s culture is one of the oldest and richest of the European
Mediterranean.  The presence of
Catalan merchants in the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages was
pivotal in the creation of trade routes that stretched from Sardinia and
Sicily to Constantinople.  The magnitude and wealth of medieval
Catalonia isCatalunya-La-Sagrada-Familia-Gaudi very much still palpable in the Gothic quarter of
Barcelona, the capital of the region and the second leading city in
Spain after Madrid.   Catalonia and in particular Barcelona became and
still is an  important industrial center that led to the emergence of a
wealthy middle class willing to spend their money on the beautification
of their city giving way to the birth of Catalan modernism.  Modernist
architects expressed themselves in different ways; some wanted to revive
Romanesque architecture while others looked to the French neo-Gothicism
and modern styles of Germany and Austria.   The goal was to create a
modern art based on Catalan traditions mixed with the use of new
materials as seen the works of Gaudí with La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera
and Parc Guell or Doméch and Montaner with el Palau de Musica Catalana
and the Hospital of San Joan all of which represent the tourist image of
Barcelona along with the cheerful Paseo de La Ramblas and colorful
Mercado de la Boquería.  An image updated in 1992 when Barcelona was
host to the Olympic Games, the nomination sparked an ambitious urban
plan resulting in a large scale restoration making Barcelona one of the
most visited cities in Spain and for a long time the leader of the
cultural vanguard.

Barcelona for the most
part is the image of Catalunya in the world but Catalonia is more than
just Barcelona, Gerona or Girona in catalán is a beautiful historic city
with an extraordinary Cathedral and Jewish Quarter, el Call.  The city
of Tarragona preserves its rich Roman heritage with a magnificent
amphitheater, forum and Aqueduct along with the Old quarter and the
cathedral.  The city is open to the sea and the views from el Balcón del
Mediterraneo are magnificent.  South of
Catalunya-Girona-RiverTarragona is the natural park of
Delta del Ebro, an extraordinary haven for thousands of birds, including
a large breeding colony of flamingos.  Lérida or Lleida in catalán is
less charming than the aforementioned cities but its province in
addition to being an excellent producer of fruits and vegetables has one
of the most famous ski resorts in Spain, Baqueira-Beret, located in el
Valle de Arán in the Pyrenees, very popular among Spanish skiers
including King Juan Carlos and his family.  Not far is the National Park
of Aigues Tortes and Lago San Maurici some of the most striking mountain
landscapes in Spain.

Catalunya has excellent
beaches all along the Costa Brava in Girona and Costa Dorada in
Tarragona.  Fishing ports are abundant such as Palamós, Cambrils,
Sitges
picturesque towns and the origin of excellent seafood dishes.  The
cuisine in Cataluña is extraordinary, around the coast travelers can
enjoy outstanding rice dishes and unforgettable suquet de peix (seafood
soup) while towards the interior of the region dishes are heartier
rabbit with snails, escalibada (check out my food recipes if you want to
learn how to make it), or peus de porc amb rovillons (pig’s trotters
stuffed with mushroom sauce).  The Catalan region produces first-class
wines like those from the appellations of Penedés, Priorat and Alella as
well as magnificent olive oils such as those from Siurana, however, the
star of Catalonia is cava the delectable Catalan champagne.  Bon
viatge!

 

 

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