Spring-Summer Getaway to Vallès Occidental
Walks, landscapes, gastronomy and a future World Heritage Site
This is a densely populated region with a number of sizeable cities, but it's still possible to live and relax in nature here. On this getaway we'll do a little bit of everything: we'll explore the Parc Natural de Sant Llorenç del Munt i l'Obac, we'll walk and ride horses, but we won't be turning our back on one of the area's big cities. Terrassa, where we'll discover Seu d'Ègara, one of Catalonia's architectural jewels.
Morning day 1: From La Barata to Rellinars
© Gonzalo Sanguinetti / Diputació de Barcelona
Our getaway begins with a walk. Despite its 11 kilometres, it's easy, pleasant, suitable for all ages and it'll take around 3 hours (one way). Take a hat, sunscreen and water and the heat won't bother you too much, especially when you're enjoying the landscapes of the Parc Natural de Sant Llorenç del Munt i l'Obac. In any case, a large part of the route is shaded by oak trees all year round.
The starting point is at kilometre 9 of highway BV-1221, the road that connects Terrassa and Talamanca. Today what we see here is a set of residential buildings, but in the 14th century it was the site of an inn called La Barata. It has always been a place of passage for centuries, connected to the Royal Road that went from Barcelona to Manresa. And there were quite a few bandits around. They say that the owners of the inn tipped off the bandits to help them prepare their ambush. On one side of the road you'll see the Royal Road marker, which later leads on the GR 5 footpath among the oak woods. When the woods begin to thin out you'll see some beautiful landscapes and unusual sights such as the bald hilltop of La Pola, and the Castellsapera cliff, which rises up 932 metres above sea level. We have to carry on, heading for Collet Gran and Paller de Tot l'Any, and, and the end of the ridge, descend through the rocks leaving behind the castle of Bócs, a farmhouse and the Boada spring. We'll soon reach our destination, Rellinars, a town in which we'll find ancient family houses that were the foundation of the village, such as Can Llobet, Can Selva and Can Felip Neri. If we have enough time and energy you can also explore the springs of Rellinars, especially if rain has fallen lately.
Afternoon day 1: A stretch of the Equustur
© Josep Cano / Diputació de Barcelona
We walked enough in the morning. So in the afternoon we suggest that you explore this part of the region on horseback. A few years ago, the Vallès Occidental Tourist Board planned and implemented a series of itineraries that are part of a larger project at the European level, called Equustur. So, it's now possible to travel across much of the region without dismounting, which is definitely a treat for those who love riding.
It would take us six days and five nights to ride all of the 111.3 km of the region's horse paths, so we've chosen a stretch of about 18 km from Sant Llorenç Savall to Terrassa. After leaving Sant Llorenç, we'll pass by interesting sights like the Creu del Racó and Masia de la Roca, before entering a wooded area and fording the Riera de Les Arenes. Further on, the path will take us to the town of Matadepera and we'll cross a number of wheat fields before arriving in the co-capital of the Vallès Occidental region.
Morning day 2: Heritage of the heart of Terrassa
© Gonzalo Sanguinetti / Diputació de Barcelona
After enjoying nature, walking and riding during the first of our two days in Vallès Occidental, it's now time to spend a relaxing morning exploring the history and heritage of the heart of Terrassa, right beside the magnificent Vallparadís park. If you've never visited the Seu d'Ègara, put it on your "things to do before I die" list since it's an extraordinary monumental ensemble, made up of three churches that can trace their origins back to the first centuries of Christianisation of Catalonia. Steps are already being taken to secure its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It's now five years since the site reopened after a decade of restoration work converted it into a museum space. We recommend that as soon as you enter and purchase your ticket, you turn left into the baptistery. There you'll see a 3D audiovisual presentation that will help you to get to know the site a little better. Then take the stair up to the terrace, where you'll have a good view of the whole ensemble. Here and there, you'll see a number of scattered anthropomorphic tombs, and the silos of the Iberian people. The small hill on which the site rests has been inhabited throughout history, and that is why entering the enclosure means going on a fascinating journey through centuries of history, humanity and art. In the baptistery building there are some incredible Gothic altarpieces on display, which were once inside the churches, while another video explains the evolution of the site, focussing especially on what it was like between the 5th and 9th centuries, when it was the headquarters of the Diocese of Ègara.
Now you can go down to the esplanade to visit the churches of Santa Maria, Sant Miquel and Sant Pere. All three are in predominantly Romanesque style but each one is different. We are particularly fond of the church in the middle, dedicated to Sant Miquel, because of its unusual shape. It's a funerary temple with a square plan, built mainly during the reign of the Visigoths. Inside, eight columns, each one with strikingly different capitals, holds up a dome, while murals are still visible in the chapel. Downstairs you can visit the clover-shaped crypt which is one of the few existing examples with windows to the world outside.
Inside the churches of Santa Maria and Sant Pere, there are also a thousand details to see. Explaining thgem would take forever. So it's best that you go and discover them yourself!
Afternoon day 2: The flavours of Cuina Vallès
It's time to sit down for a meal! Let's do it at one of the 13 restaurants that make up the Cuina Vallès collective. The project was created in 2006 and aims to bring together the most representative chefs and establishments in the region in order to promote the virtues and singularities of the local gastronomy. Quality in these restaurants is guaranteed: Can Vinyers from Matadepera; el Capritx, La Terrassa del Museu and El Cel de les Oques from Terrassa; Can Feu and 9 de la Borriana from Sabadell; Garbí from Castellar del Vallès; Lossum, from Sant Quirze del Vallès; Ristol from Viladecavalls; Can Piqué from Montcada i Reixac; Tast&Gust from Cerdanyola del Vallès; Ca l'Esteve from Castellbisbal; and El Cingle, from Vacarisses. Each one has its own gastronomic philosophy and peculiarities, but whichever one you choose, you're sure to sample products cultivated in the Valles region.
During the year, the group holds seminars during which one particular local product is the star of the dishes they serve. For example, the First Collserola Conference on Organically Farmed Lamb took place here last April, while the Fourth Conference on Montgrí Tomatoes is scheduled from July to September and October will see the Eighth Conference on Can Casamada beans.
Depending on the restaurant and village you've chosen for lunch, and after a little postprandial rest, it will be better to spend your afternoon on one or another of the dozens of activities that the region offers. We've decided to explore the old town centre of Castellar del Vallès, setting off from the Plaça Major to discover interesting houses like Casa Ribas, the Torre Balada municipal music school, the Church of Sant Esteve, and especially the magnificent Palau Tolrà, which is now the town hall. With gardens full of modernista elements, it's the ideal place to end our trip to the region.
Where to stay and where to eat
Cultural venues in Vallès Occidental
Opened in 2012, in full economic crisis, and in a square called, appropriately Plaça del Gas, the headquarters of the Fundació Gas Natural Fenosa is set in an old power station with gas engines called La Energía. On display, you’ll find the history of the company and the industry, the historical records of the company and temporary exhibitions and activities for everyone. The first year it attracted 22,000 visitors. Climb up to the lookout for the views.
- Plaça del Gas, 8, 08201
The Catalan modernist-style Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory has been home to the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia for the last two decades. It features around a dozen permanent and various temporary exhibits that reflect the scientific advances that have changed our lives and document Catalonia’s industrial heritage. The museum collection is also spread out in 25 territorial museums and the Generalitat government is planning to integrate all of them in the new National History Museum.
- Rambla d’Ègara, 270, 08221
With an intense, diverse and top quality programme, this theatre in Sant Cugat has become a benchmark among Barcelona’s satellite towns over its two decades of existence. Designed by two Ramons - architects Artigues and Sanabria – it is a multipurpose space with capacity for 800 spectators. Every year 50,000 people enjoy theater, music, opera, dance, family shows, magic and operetta here, as well as films, lectures, workshops ...
- Plaça de Victòria dels Àngels, 1, 08172
The building is hardly recent – it’s a Benedictine monastery dating from the 9th century – but the contents are new: the Monastery Museum is the emblematic central exhibiting space of the Museum of Sant Cugat, which was created in 2003, the other being the Contemporary Tapestry Museum in Casa Aymat. Apart from the cloister and the church, the museum harbours an installation on the abbey itself, on Romanesque monasteries and medieval monks, as well as temporary exhibitions on art and local issues, and workshops. Guided and dramatized tours are also offered.
- Jardins del Monestir, 1, 08173