Route around the Montgrí Castle
Mountain shoes, water, a hat to cover you peel if the day is forecast sunny, and little more need to climb up to the castle Montgrí, visible from many points of Empordà and seated on a bare, rounded mountain that is not . many miles from the sea along the Costa Brava advantage that we have around and to get to it does not mean too much longer, we will also draw to the hermitage of Santa Caterina, another landmark building within the term of L'Estartit - L ' Estartit .
In this county of Baix Empordà we must turn to start the walk. Walking is the only way to climb top of the castle (well, unless you want to load a long cycle times in the arms, as the road is full of rocks and especially for the descent we propose, hands are needed and attentive feet for balance. Anyway, best leave any heavy utensil at home and will serve only the ability of your body). Despite the parentheses we have done, do not panic, as it is not a difficult tour, it is suitable for anyone who uses alone and they do not miss it. The duration? It depends on how long badeu by the towers of the castle and watching the scenery, or on the premises of Santa Catalina, but calculate just over two hours.
In L'Estartit can be accessed in different ways. If you drive along the AP-7 motorway take exit 5 to 6 in the second case you can take the C-66 towards Flaçà and then the GI-643 which, passing through the side of Parlavà , leave you in the villa. If you have gone out the 5, in our opinion the best option is to be a stretch of the N-II towards the south until shortly before entering Medinyà, where a sign will indicate that the left can take a road (the GI -633) that will take you to Virgin and Torroella . The same way, then, is what can make if instead of highway has approached Empordà land through the N-II, both from the north and the south. The nearest train station is Flaçà , 16 kilometers, while there are many bus services from Barcelona and from Girona , and daily connection with the county capital La Bisbal d'Empordà , and several municipalities of the Costa Brava, through companies and AMPSA SARFA.
Once in Torroella , it will be hard not to find the way to begin the journey, as both Montgrí Mountain as the castle are clearly visible and the mountain (with an altitude of 303 meters) is very close to the village, is its natural backdrop. In any case, for cost finding prompted by street Fatima and continue to the top, when it becomes the Way of the Dunes and there, in a small plaza, you can leave the car, if you carry, and you will see an oven lime and indicators that draw us, now, to the Montgrí.
We have to go following milestones parallel red and white color. However, especially in this first section, the way is very simple, the wide road, and is impossible to miss. The slope is almost imperceptible, but when we turn, we can begin to see the roofs of Torroella , the Empordà plain with the river Ter tuck through it when its last leg, and the unfinished bell tower of the parish church of Sant Genis. The majesty of the parish gives us a good example of how important it was centuries ago the town; the church is sober but forceful appearance, all of it as being elevated above the houses. It was begun in the year 1306, but on top of an existing one, and devoted three centuries later, the 1609 addition to the unfinished tower of octagonal belfry tower has another, less visible, and topped hexagonal pyramid. Until four days ago, the church hosted the prestigious International Music Festival of Torroella, but the brand Ter Area, which makes auditorium, theater, and exhibition space and conference, has taken the role of the 'annual event summer.
With this view the church from afar we have not stopped talking massif in which we find ourselves, as the stone to build the temple was extracted Montgrí. But now is the time to continue our steps, and soon realize that we are on a path of pilgrimage. A chapel awaits us on the horizon, stone and a vaulted ceiling. This chapel, as both its "twin" to find a few meters, was built safe because of the devotion to Santa Caterina. Were also used, of course, more than once and more than two, as a refuge for shepherds grazing herds around here, and as we could perfectly hide happen today if a storm, as the interior and roof are perfectly preserved. It is from this first chapel to the road begins to make up and is paved, a paved, but if we do not go well shod, we will go wrong, as there are sharp rocks and other bad jobs they want us to tin. Then we are in the second of the chapels, and you see the third spot. Landscapes begin to be sensational.
The shrine of 'Soledad'
Now walk on natural stone of the mountain, and go on top of a neck, which can be considered a point and followed the journey. In this neck is a cross with ideals steps to sit a few minutes, drinking water, and taking pictures of rigor, as well as the castle began to have very close. We see that is shaped like the typical castle small draw and we color, good little square with rounded towers. But the final assault on the summit we left parked for a while, because the other side can make out where we came from the hermitage of Santa Caterina. Always said that this chapel and this place inspired Caterina Albert (Victor Catalan) when set his best known, Soledad novel. So we do not think twice and we will go to visit her. Warn, however, that is only open from 11am to 5pm, Sundays and most holidays, and if you want to get out of these hours must be pre ordered via phone 972 760 608 or 618 215 078 . A very good day to go is, how could it be otherwise, for Santa Catalina, 25 November; fall on the day of the week it falls, the feast of St. Catherine is celebrated. And last Sunday (or the day 25 if Sunday) is the Snail Festival, with hundreds of people coming to the Esplanade for breakfast there and dine, and attend the Solemn Mass and listening and dancing the Sardana who plays a song.
The road from the neck to the chapel does not have any difficulty, and will be fifteen minutes. Construction is raised in the late fourteenth century by three monks from the Monastery of Montserrat, and in later centuries were doing additions and renovations. The set is in very good condition, but unfortunately we can no longer admire some of the treasures housed, as the Gothic stone carving of the saint, or the Gothic altarpiece by Jaume Serra School representing the Virgin Suckling Yes. you can wander through its agencies such as the kitchen and dining room, and climb up the bell tower. Chapel, meanwhile, offers a renaissance air, with paintings on the walls and vaults restored a few years ago.
We return to the neck where the cross was undoing what has been done to go to the chapel and, once there, we head to the castle. Now a matter of taking long to "scale" the rock steps, but, again, without much difficulty and in a flash we are already at the front door of this colossal work made ??up by King James II, between 1294 and 1301 from perfectly square, with 31 feet on each side, and a wall 13 feet high with battlements , took the castle of reference that rose to the Holy Land and met through the Crusades.
Once through the door, perhaps we will be disappointed to see that the inside is hollow. Simply, the castle was never finished. The reason for the construction was the conflict between the counts of Empurias and the counts of Barcelona, ??when Empúries County was annexed to the Crown, the castle lost all utility and work was suspended. But: some years ago undertook a major rehabilitation and, among others, became a spiral staircase that allows up to the top of the castle, walking among the four cylindrical towers panoramic From up here you can describe. one word: spectacular. The Medes Islands, Gulf of Roses, Cape Creus, the plain of the Empordà, different villages around the mouth of the Ter, the Canigou ... Now just for that would have been worth the trip.
The Cau del Duc
But there are still surprises to discover the massif Montgrí To know them, will decline by a different place.; we could say that we descend the mountain on the right. From the castle gate, back a few feet behind where we had come. Find red strikethrough on a stone an indication that says "Cau del Duc." We followed and from there, although no longer any signs, everything is very intuitive, go down among the rocks that we allow. It's certainly the most complicated section of the entire tour, but only if you have to suffer much vertigo. Arrive at a big hole in the mountain. This cave is the Cau del Duc, where they have found some of the oldest remains from around the Principality, dating from 300,000 years ago. Those who lived there did not know, but they were living in the times of the Lower Paleolithic.
Now we're nearing the end. The descent is very fast on the path we have taken. And most of what will be the next meters, and we have to move over a pie plate (known as the Pedrigolet) which is full of small rounded stones that fall off of the same mountain and will we have to go with a little care if we do not end the ass on the floor on more than one occasion. We take it as a game, as a fun activity, and only we pay attention we will secure a few laughs in this decline. Moreover, the pan are a few meters, after which the road becomes very flat up to the place where we had started this wonderful adventure.