La Segarra, land of castles
The region of La Segarra is known as the "land of castles" because of the large number of fortifications that stand. In the XI-XII centuries in this place, crossed by the valley of the river Sió, the border between the Catalan Catalan counties and the Arab Al-Andalus was drawn. This fact converted this area into an insecure space with strong defensive needs.
Once the frontier disappeared, the castles lost their defensive function and most became manor houses, the headquarters of a feudalism that lasted until the 19th century. Much of this heritage has reached today, becoming a witness to the history of the region and the country, in this route we will visit the most significant.
To see the first castles we will go to the municipality of Els Plans de Sió, in all its municipal area there are several fortifications, we will start with the one of Concabella, located in the nucleus of the same name.
Castle of Concabella
This construction is the main reference of the route of the castles since, in its interior, is the center of interpretation of this route. The oldest documents give proof of the existence of this castle since the year 1040, in its beginnings it was a defense tower that, with time, was enlarged until it became a castle. Over the centuries several reforms were made but the most important was in the sixteenth century, at that time the old frontier had already disappeared and the castle had already lost its former defensive function, becoming a great manor palace of Renaissance style that it denoted the good economic moment that the stately families lived.
From the 19th century, once the old stately regime disappeared, the castle was acquired by the residents of Concabella. From that moment some of its stones were used for other constructions, the interior of the castle hosted private homes, corrals, a theater, a café or a school. All these changes were disfiguring the castle, so it lost the characteristic style it had as a stately palace. Within this long history of functions highlights the fact of becoming a prison during the Civil War (1936-1939), hosting prisoners who were used to do the works of fortification of the Republican rear.
In 1991, the City Council decides to stop the process of degradation and reconstruction begins. This change also brings new uses, today the castle is the seat of several exhibitions related to La Segarra and its surroundings, one of the most important exhibition spaces is the Interpretation Center of the castles of Sió, so called because much of the castles They are found around the Sió river valley. In this center of interpretation the historical context and the way in which the castles of this area were built are explained. On the other hand there is also the Manuel de Pedrolo Space dedicated to this writer Segarra who was born in the castle of Aranyó, very close to Concabella. Finally, you can also visit an exhibition dedicated to explaining the entire ecosystem of flora and fauna of the dry landscape typical of the lands of Lleida.
Castle of Pallargues
In the same municipality of Els Plans de Sió we will find the castle of Pallargues, in the nucleus of the same name. This fortification is one of those still used today as a home, although it has been owned by several families, it has been owned by the Rovira for a hundred years. They still live and are in charge of making the tourist visits that take place in the interior of the castle.
The most outstanding element of the construction is the main façade, presided by a large Gothic arch of thirteen meters high and seven and a half meters wide. Under this arch today there is a large balcony and the entrance to the building.
The oldest reference of the castle dates back to 1061, it was built in a strategic and elevated point next to the river Sió. Throughout the centuries, around it, the core of Les Pallargues was formed. Its interior has the appearance of a stately castle-palace that many of the old castles of La Segarra have. Highlights include noble areas such as the Chapter Room or the spiral staircase that leads to the dungeons and the ice well, the chapel of San Miguel, the old bedroom and the terrace with privileged views of La Segarra.
Castle of Montcortes
To finish the visit to the castles of the municipality of Els Plans de Sió we will go to the nucleus of Montcortés, formed by some scattered farmhouses. In the highest part of the nucleus is the imposing Montcortes Castle .
The building is known from 1095, in the fifteenth century the current castle was built, a large fortress. Of this building of three floors, of Renaissance style, it emphasizes the presence of two great twin towers and the decoration of the windows of what the noble plant should be.
The building is currently unused and closed but it is worth visiting the exterior for its majesty, a monument that makes small the country houses that meet in their environment.
Castle of Florejacs
Florejacs is a closed village, that is to say, a walled nucleus of the municipality of Torrefeta and Florejacs that has as its origin the castle of the same name. The first news dates from the eleventh century and was built by Arnau Mir de Tost, noble and military of the old county of Urgell. The castle, like the others in the area, defended the border between the Arab and Christian world. Once the border disappeared, it followed a process similar to that of other defensive constructions, becoming a manor house. Thus, during the sixteenth century, a new block was added to the medieval defense tower in accordance with the new stately building functions. In addition, the lords of the castle promoted the construction of houses inside the walled enclosure, giving life to the current town of Florejacs.
The castle belongs to the same family for centuries, the Jaumandreu de Balanzó who, even today, use a part of the construction as a private residence and organize guided visits to the most outstanding spaces of its interior. Of the castle, built directly on the rock, highlights the defensive tower of the fourteenth century, 21 meters, an element that can be seen from many places around. In its interior you can visit different rooms, decorated with a wide collection of furniture and antique objects that the family owns has kept over the years; You can also visit other more curious spaces such as the old dungeon.
The castle of Florejacs is the scene of one of the most well-known legends of La Segarra, a story related to the name of the town and the castle, it is the Lady of Flowers. Legend has it that the castle lived a beautiful maiden, its beauty was known and many men came to his residence to see it, then she chose the one she liked the most. But the Lady of the Flowers had a darker side, once she had enjoyed the chosen man, afraid that the news would spread, she would smell her lover a haunted flower that turned the man into another flower that, later, she planted in the garden of the castle. Finally, the king, learned about this practice and condemned and executed the lady. The legend closes with the story of those who tell that, occasionally, you can see the ghost of the Lady walking through the town with a flower in her hand. It is said that to honor all the men who were the victim of the evil arts of the lady, the place was called Florejacs.
Castle of Silos
This castle is one of the icons of La Segarra, its exterior appearance makes it special since it is a construction that looks like a medieval castle. To arrive, leaving Florejacs, we will go towards Palou, until the L-313 road, in this road we will find the detour that leads to the castle that rises, practically alone, on a hill.
It has a square shape, with a slope that follows the base of the castle walls, crowned with battlements. In the center of the fortification rises a defense tower twenty meters high that crowns the castle. Its origins are the same as those of the castle of Florejacs since this fortification was also promoted by the military Arnau Mir de Tost, with the aim of reinforcing the border between Arabs and Christians.
Behind the walls of the castle there is a central patio, around which the main spaces of the building are built, with an aristocratic character. In addition to these noble spaces, others such as the cellar, the dungeon, the kitchen, the oven or the stables are preserved. From the top of the central tower that crowns the castle you can see a panoramic view of the region of La Segarra.
Near the castle we find the church of San Pedro de Los Silos, a small Romanesque temple built in the 12th century.
Tower of Vallferosa
To finish the route we will visit the tower of Vallferosa, to arrive we will do it from the deviation that there is in the LV-3005 road, leaving the Torah nucleus. This construction is not in itself a castle, simply a watchtower that complemented the defensive strategy of the castles that rise throughout the region.
The tower of Vallferosa, although not a castle, is worth a visit as it is considered one of the most interesting defensive constructions of the 10th century in Europe. It is located about 50 meters above the Barranco de los Cuadros. The tower was built around 970; the year 990 was intended to reinforce the tower by building a wider and higher around its perimeter so that the old tower was hidden inside the new. The tower has been preserved intact and unchanged since it was built, it is circular, 33 meters high, and with loopholes at the top. The door is located 10 meters high, as was customary in this type of defensive constructions. Modernly a staircase has been built to reach the height of the door, this element allows you to visit both the interior of the tower and its roof and enjoy good views of the valley of the river Llobregós. At the foot of the tower are the ruins of the church of San Pedro and the ancient village of Vallferosa.
Other castles of the Segarra
We finish the route visiting only a part of the castles that there are in the region since there are others that rise of different constructive typologies, well conserved, in ruins, inhabited, uninhabited or reconverted to other uses, it is necessary to take into account that in practically each core of the Segarra is a castle or some type of fortification since much of the people of the Segarra originated from the existence of a castle.
This way you can extend the tour of the region visiting castles such as Vicfred, Aranyo, Castellmeià, Mejanell, Vergós Guerrejat, Mill of Ratera, Les Oluges or also the closed village of Montfalcó Murallat, the tower of Ivorra or Mejanell, monuments that, without a doubt, make La Segarra a land of castles.