Route of the Fuente del Pico - Font Vella in Sant Hilari Sacalm
The Fuente del Pico - Fuente Vieja route consists of a short-kilometer circular route with an easy level of difficulty that goes through forests near the town of Sant Hilari Sacalm. Much of the route is along easily accessible and well-signposted forest paths, except for a small section that passes through an urban walk in the municipality.
The forest paths of the route are shady and cool in summer, passing through chestnut perches, areas with banana trees and promenade trees such as acacia.
In addition, along the way you will be able to visit different points of cultural and natural interest such as the Fuente del Pico, a natural water spring located in a park where the Vallicrosa stream passes and where there is a small picnic area; the Old Fountain, a natural water jet declared of public utility in 1956 and that, currently, its water is bottled and distributed throughout Spain; or the BestiArt mural, an artistic mural painted by the Excéntrica artistic association where it is represented
the most native fauna and flora of the area.
The flora that can be found along the route is of species characteristic of areas with humid climates. The most common trees and shrubs that can be found on the roads are:
HORSE CHESTNUT (Aesculus spp.)
It is popularly known as chestnut board. It is a deciduous tree that usually grows in sandy soils and can reach over 20 meters in height. It has a dense and thick crown. It is a tree that in Europe is usually used as an ornamental tree, therefore, it can be found in walks and squares of the municipality such as the Paseo de la Fuente Vieja or the Plaza Gravalosa, among others.
The wood that is extracted from this tree is white and soft and is usually used to make firewood or boxes. Its fruit is the borda chestnut, very similar to the chestnut although it is usually larger and lacks the tail. Formerly it was believed that carrying an embroidered chestnut in your pocket cured headaches, brunettes and toothaches.
CHESTNUT (Castanea sativa)
It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 20 meters in height. Its leaves are characterized by being large, elongated and serrated. Its fruit is the chestnut, edible and highly appreciated as food in this area.
DOUGLAS FIR (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
It is an evergreen tree that grows in a conical shape and can reach 50 meters in height. Turpentine is extracted from its bark and is used to make paint and varnishes. Its wood is used to make furniture, beams and to make paper. From this, as well as from its leaves, turpentine oil can be extracted that is used as an ointment.
Its fruit is pineapple. These can reach between 10 and 15 centimeters. Currently, in Sant Hilari there are different fields where you can see large plantations of fir that are sold for Christmas. In the past, most of these fields were potato fields.
It is a type of conifer in the Pinaceae family. It is characterized by being a tree with a large and conical crown. Its wood is quite fragile, which limits its use in carpentry. Even so, it is very common to use it to create musical instruments and to make artisan objects. This stands out for its quality of warding off insects and worms since it gives off a peculiar smell.
I DO (Fagus sylvatica)
It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 30 meters in height. Its leaves and bark stand out for their medicinal properties. Traditionally they have been used as an antiseptic, antidiarrheal, healing and analgesic, among others. Popularly, it was used to treat flu, colds, bronchitis and diarrhea.
Its wood is highly valued in carpentry and turnery. Formerly it was also used by charcoal makers to make charcoal. Its fruit is edible, although it is recommended not to consume an excessive amount as it can cause poisoning. Its flavor is similar to that of walnut and can be eaten raw or roasted with salt.
GOVERNMENT (Alnus glutinosa)
The alder is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 20 meters in height. It usually lives on the banks of rivers and streams, forming part of the riverside forests. For this reason, on this route it is present next to the Vallicrosa stream.
Its wood is highly valued because when submerged in water it does not spoil. Its fruit is small and is inside a kind of small compact green pineapple that opens in autumn and the fruit falls.
In terms of shrub level, one species predominates along the route:
GRÈVOL (Ilex aquifolium)
It is also known as holly, native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. Although it usually grows little, it can also grow up to 20 meters in height. It is characterized by its bright green leaves on the front and pale green on the inside with a wavy and spiny margin.
Its fruit is small and round with a reddish color. It is resistant to cold and its consumption is toxic. It is a protected species and its collection is prohibited.
The fauna of the Guilleries is very diverse, in the case of this itinerary, amphibians and birds stand out mainly.
As for amphibians, you can find the frog (Pelophylax perezi). This usually lives in fresh water places such as rivers and ponds. You can also find the salamander (Salamandra salamandra), an amphibian from the salamàndrids family that is usually about 20 cm long and has smooth black skin with yellow spots.
On the other hand, the most common birds are the robin (Erithacus rubecula) characterized by living in an ambushed environment and being small in size with reddish plumage on the chest, the white wagtail (Motacilla alba) is also characteristic of this zona and the blackbird (Turdus merula), characteristic for being all black except for the orange bill.
Along the way you can see different nest boxes and feeders. These have the main objective of promoting biodiversity in the area. In addition, birds help regulate insect pests and thus avoid the use of pesticides and chemicals.
Although they cannot be observed along the way, it is also important to highlight two species of mammals very present in the Guilleries territory, in general: the fox or fox (Vulpes vulpes) a species that has given its name to the territory because the Guilleries toponym symbolizes the land of foxes since they used to abound in this area and the wild boar (Sus SCROG), a mammal that has reproduced so much lately in this area that it could be
talk about overpopulation. Currently, those that dominate are of a hybrid breed from the mating of common pigs with semi-wild pigs.
The route passes through several representative spaces and buildings of historical, patrimonial and artistic interest
from the capital of the Guilleries.
If the route starts from the tourist office, you can go through three points of interest near the starting point, such as the church, the town hall and the Fuente del Cerezo.
The church, located in the middle of the village, is dedicated to Saint Hilary of Poitiers, the son of a Roman aristocratic family raised in paganism. The building is made up of a great variety of styles, mainly Romanesque and Gothic. This diversity is due to the continuous reforms and extensions that have been made throughout the 12th, 15th, 16th, 19th and 20th centuries.
It is one of the most emblematic heritage buildings in the municipality. It was built in 1786 being the village hospital. Subsequently, the semi-buried floor served as a school and when the public school was built , the ground floor continued to house the teachers' homes for many years. Finally, in 1893 the city council received the right to use the building as the town house.
The building has two floors on the main façade (C / Rectoría) and three on the back façade (Pl. Del Ayuntamiento) and stands out for its neo-Gothic façade with openings on the ground floor, portal and side window with a pointed arch.
La Fuente del Cerezo is a natural water spring that was built by the city council in 1939 and that stands out for being the first ten in the municipality as it was declared for public use. This one, located in the town hall square, was buried due to a flood and it was decided to build a new one, just on the street above it, on the Paseo de la Fuente del Cerezo. Later on, the old fountain was recovered. It is for this reason that there are currently two fountains with the same name: the old Cherry Tree Fountain and the new one.
The Pico Fountain
It is a natural water source that dates from the 19th century and has the same origin as the old Cherry Tree Fountain. The source of the Pico-Pico was with the name that was known in the past, then it derived in Fuente del Pico and hence the current name: Fuente del Pico.
In 1959 it was declared water of excellent quality and of therapeutic applications. That is why the Fuente del Pico park used to be a meeting point for vacationers and people from the municipality who came to enjoy the quality of the waters and the freshness of the environment while doing social life with the rest of the vacationers and population.
Currently, in this source there is only one spring, but formerly there were three. Now, still, you can see the brand of the other two. In addition, behind the source there is a door that is unknown if it communicates with the old mine that existed before the arrangement made in 2009.
Pico Fountain Park
The Parque de la Fuente del Pico has undergone various modifications over time. The most important was in 2009 when a project was carried out to recover the Riera de Vallicrosa and improve the fluvial space, all bearing in mind that it is a flooded area and respecting the riverside vegetation and the biological corridor function of the stream.
The restructuring involved the removal of walls, cements and other structures that were not typical of the natural structure of the stream. Subsequently, a bioengineering work was carried out through a Krainer construction, which consists of a gravity wall formed by a structure of logs, all combining it with live plants.
Just past the Parque de la Fuente del Pico and following the indications of the itinerary there is a small tunnel that passes under the GI-541 road. Inside this tunnel is the Mural BestiArt, a mural made by the local artistic association Excéntrica, a non-profit association dedicated entirely to art in all its expressions.
This one was designed by Joan Cantal, an artist from Osor, and was painted during the fall of 2019. A total of 16 artists from the local art collective participated in the project .
The work stands out for its large dimensions since it measures about 200 square meters and for being inspired by the most representative native vegetation, flora and fauna of Sant Hilari and Las Guilleries. Some of the physical and aquatic animals represented in the mural are the roe deer, the genet, the hoopoe, the kingfisher, the green frog and the trout, among many others.
Nowadays, in addition, you can find a well where in the past there was a building that during the seventies bottled and sold the water from this source and also a playground and picnic area.
LA FONT VELLA BOTTLING PLANT
Along the way you can see the Font Vella bottling plant from different points .
The company was founded in 1943. In 1974 it became part of the multinational BSNGervais Danone, which in 1994 became known as the Danone Group.
The water that is extracted from the forests of the Guilleries is of weak mineralization and is indicated for diets low in sodium and for the preparation of food for children. It stands out for being one of the most consumed mineral waters in Spain.
La Fuente Vieja stands out for being a pioneer in the natural mineral water sector since in 2009, the 1.5-liter bottle of Font Vella became the first container in the sector to incorporate 25% recycled plastic. The use of these, apart from improving the sustainability of the containers and reducing their weight, has also reduced Font Vella's CO2 emissions by 34% in recent years. In 2014 the company was recognized with the European Business Award for the Environment.
The Old Fountain is a natural water spring that was analyzed for the first time in 1917 and was declared for public use on March 27, 1956. The analysis of the source described it as pure and unbeatable water.
In the 20th century, Font Vella became an emblematic place in the municipality where the first vacationers who came to spend the summer in Sant Hilari went to drink the weakly mineralized water from this source to complement the drink of bicarbonate and calcium waters from the Spicy Fountain.
Over time, the summer in the municipality increased, which also provided economic growth in the municipality, and the sources went from having a healthy interest to becoming a meeting point where adults and children went to drink water with aniseed and spend summer afternoons outdoors under the shade of the trees that are still preserved in the park.
Currently, in the upper part of the fountain there is a monolith, the work of the sculptor Domènec Fita, where there are sculpted verses that Jacint Verdaguer, one of the great poets of the Catalan language, wrote in 1983 on the occasion of his visit to Sant Hilari to meet, in a reconciliation process, with Bishop Morgades. It says like this: "I was thirsty for pure water, my heart was feverish, and I longed for the sweetness of the infinity spring. Like the lightning of that Font Vella
pour your pipe into my heart that s'esbadella and you will see me, Jesus, healed ".
Jaumet del flaviol
A character closely related to the Old Fountain is Jaume Via y Riera (1871-1955), known to vacationers as "Jaumet del piccolo".
Jaumet used to take daily walks to the Old Fountain where he carried jugs of water and distributed them among the different vacationers in town in exchange for a tip. As a young man, due to an accident, he lost his gift of speech, so he used a flute to communicate with people. He always played the same thirteen-note melody, the one everyone knew by heart.
The love that the town had for him was so great that the vacationers who came to Sant Hilari made a procession and gave him a cart so that he could load the jugs and make his work easier. He made so many trips with this car that it was immediately damaged. Later, the city council and the entourage gave him the second car that is still on display today at the Tourist Office.
In 2019, the Sant Hilari city council dedicated a life-size statue to this very important character of our municipality that is located on Vic street, halfway through the path that he used to do to get to Font Vella.
MASIA DE CAN JOVÉ
It is a 17th century farmhouse transformed into a residential house. It preserves some original elements such as the main door and some windows with a monolithic lintel. Although the complex has been greatly altered as a result of modern reforms that have added an upper floor with a gallery of semicircular arches. It has a body attached to the left side of the building, from the beginning of the 20th century.
LA FONT VELLA SPA
The current Fountain V Spa is a restored historic building. It is located right next to the Fuente del Pico park.
This heritage building was formerly a residence for nuns, known as Villa Josefina or Torre de los Locos due to the ignorance that the townspeople had of the people who lived there. An interior renovation of the building was carried out in order to adapt it to the spa hotel that it is today. The exterior was kept with the same characteristics as it had in 1908, in order to preserve its architecture.
Source: Sant Hilari Sacalam Town Council