Winter getaway to Baix Llobregat
Archeology and landscapes in beautiful surroundings
With its many natural spaces and unique archaeological remains, the Baix Llobregat is a region that offers many places to explore. We suggest that you spend your weekend going back to prehistoric times by visiting the Mines of Gavà, by losing yourself in the Llobregat delta and the caves of Montserrat, where you will have many opportunities to enjoy the scenery and disconnect from your everyday routines. And all of this at very short distance from the city of Barcelona. Who could ask for more?
Afternoon day 1: Exploring the centre of Gavà
We'll begin our trip in Gavà, where we recommend that you take a walk down the Rambla, an emblematic boulevard that is free of traffic and lined with shops and bars with terraces. This is a popular meeting point in the centre of town where you can shop or simply sit down quietly for a while. A few metres from the Rambla you'll find Carrer dels Màrtirs del Setge de 1714, which, in Medieval times, was used as the road to Viledecans after crossing Riera de Sant Llorenç. At number 13 we'll find the 17th century Casa Safont-Girona, where the noble family of Eramprunyà stored the crops that their peasants paid them. The building was reformed in the 18th century to store wine, cereals, olives and legumes, as well as housing stables and a jailhouse. One of the charms of Carrer dels
Màrtirs are the buildings that recall the Gava of the end of the 19th century. A good example is Casa Rovira, located at number 30 and built in 1887.
The Rambla connects with the remodelled Torre Lluc municipal park, an ample space with children's areas and walking paths. The building that gives its name to the park dates from 1799 and houses the Museum of Gavà, which we would like you to visit. One of its main attractions is its archaeological collection which integrates the remains excavated at Gavà's prehistoric mines and those from the Can Sadurní de Begues cave. The museum also has a 800 square metre botanical garden displaying the vegetation and landscapes of the town and its surroundings.
Morning day 2: The secrets of variscite
To explore these archaeological remains in situ you have to head for the Parc Arqueològic de les Mines de Gavà, with Europe's oldest mining galleries. The pits were dug some 6,000 years ago and continued working for a thousand years. Variscite, a green coloured mineral, was what drove them to dig. It was made into jewellery and historians believe that it had a religious and magical significance. In fact, the Neolithic community that inhabited Gavà was completely devoted to mining the mineral, which still hides some secrets today.
The museum offers a number of short documentary films that explain how the mining was carried out, what life was like 6,000 years ago and giving many more details on the archaeological remains on display. As they were gradually abandoned, the mines were used as tombs, which explain the presence of the human remains that have allowed specialists to find out about the lives of the men and women who lived in the area during the Neolithic period. Apart from viewing the remains, you will be able to see a part of the original mines. The museum also has an interesting reproduction of the mines that allow visitors to enter and delve into prehistory and the secrets surrounding variscite.
You can also choose from among a wide variety of outdoor activities in Baix Llobregat, including horse riding. The region has a number of riding stables and organizations that offer classes and routes around the area. Examples include Cavalls pintats, in Castellví de Rosanes, who will take you on horseback along the trails and through the woods of the region. Other equestrian organizations in Baix Llobregat are Hipiclub Internacional, in Gavà, and Club Hípic d'Esparreguera, and l'Hípica Can Pitarch, in Sant Boi de Llobregat. You can find others in the section dedicated to horse riding published by the Consorci de Turisme del Baix Llobregat.
Afternoon day 2: Immerse yourself in the Roman Empire
After our journey back in time to prehistory, it's time to advance towards the period of the Roman Empire. To do so, we'll call in at the Roman baths in Sant Boi de Llobregat, which date from the 2nd century BC and are among the best conserved examples in Catalonia. The bathhouse, which was still working until the 5th century, was made up of two parallel buildings: one with the cold baths and the other with hot ones. When the baths were discovered in 1953, an amphora workhouse was also unearthed underneath them which dates from 30 to 20 years before Christ.
If you're interested in delving deeper into the history of the región, make your way to the Museu Can Barraquer in Sant Boi, where you will find a permanent exhibition on local history from the Iberian period to the present. The museum has another attraction, it is set in the family home of Rafael Casanova (1660-1743), the last head of Barcelona's Council of One Hundred and a supporter of the House of Austria during the War of the Spanish Succession.
Morning day 3: The charms of the Delta
Lakes, wetlands, dunes and pine forests on beaches are some of the charms of the Llobregat Delta, a network of protected areas that belong to the municipalities of El Prat de Llobregat, Viladecans, Gava and Sant Boi de Llobregat. It is considered to be one of the most important areas of Catalonia in terms of environmental education and research and offers exceptional opportunities for the observation of rare flora and fauna.
The river's preserved spaces, located to the right of its final section, occupy 145 hectares in which you can find rushes, wet meadows and coastal ponds. Cormorants, ducks and herons can easily be seen in the Remolar lake area, the Filipines marsh, and part of Viledecans beach, which make up one of the best known areas. You can explore the delta on your own, visiting everything from the wetlands to the Agrarian Park, one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the country. You can visit the Agrarian Park on a signposted circular trail. The delta also has a River Park, which was opened in 2009 following the recuperation of old industrial land in Prat del Llobregat. Here you will find Mediterranean style gardens, a viewing tower and the chimney of the old Torras Hostench paper factory.
You can reach the riverside conservation areas from the park by bicycle or on foot. In fact, cycling is a recommendable way of seeing the delta, and you can cycle around in peace on the network of paths that cover the area.
Afternoon day 3: Stalactites and stalagmites on Montserrat
We will continue enjoying nature by visiting the saltpetre caves in Collbató, which will take us inside the mountain of Montserrat to a bewildering environment stalactites, stalagmites and columns formed by water erosion over thousands of years, and that recall the work of Antoni Gaudi. The tour of the caves has an extension of 500 meters and is always guided with three morning and two afternoon visits. Access is by ascending 244 steps outside, once inside, the ambient temperature is 14°C and the humidity reaches 97%. In addition to explaining the features and results of the geological process that has shaped the cave, you will learn how the first settlers lived on Montserrat in the Neolithic era and you will hear the legends that have existed about the caves for centuries.
Montserrat Natural Park has a diverse range of activities on offer, including hiking and climbing. A pleasant trek lasting less than half an hour that provides spectacular views is the path to the cross of Sant Miquel. There are plenty of other itineraries, of diverse lengths and degrees of difficulty.
We can't say goodbye to the region without mentioning its gastronomy, which includes traditional dishes like cabbage stuffed cannelloni, curds with honey, as well as products like olive oil and pastries that are of high quality and are sure to please.
To get to Montserrat and to follow the routes in the park you can take the cog railway , the funicular of Sant Joan, the funicular of Santa Cova or l'Aeri de Montserrat cable car. Whichever option you choose you'll be sure to get spectacular views of Montserrat that will make you want to return some day.
Where to stay and where to eat
Cultural venues in Baix Llobregat
The Interpretation Centre at the Gava prehistoric mine site brings back what life here was like 6,000 years ago, when the local Neolithic community began to work the local variscite mines. As well as offering visits to a small part of the mine, the centre features audiovisual and explanatory modules and a scale reproduction of the mines. Many of the items discovered here can be found in the Gavà Museum.
- Jaume I, 7, 08850
With more than 1,700 seats and a stage measuring 375 square metres, the Teatre de la Passió d'Esparreguera is one of the largest theatres in Catalonia. Although the performances of the Passion Play, which will take place from the 9th of March to the 4th of May in 2014, are the theatre’s true raison d’être, it also has a varied programme of theatrical performances throughout the year, as well as concerts, and a drama school dedicated to the performance of the passion play.
- Avinguda de Francesc Marimon, 83-89, 08292
The Colònia Guell complex dates from the year 1890, when the textile industrialist Eusebi Güell decided to move his El Vapor Vell cotton factory from the neighbourhood of Sants in Barcelona to the village of Santa Coloma de Cervelló, and is made up of the factory colony itself, an interpretation centre and the Gaudí designed crypt. You can carry out your visit with the help of audio-guides or, if you prefer, there are guided visits at 12 midday on Sundays and public holidays. On Saturdays mornings, you will find a farmer’s market where local produce is sold.
- Colònia Güell, 08690
The Castle of Castelldefels, which first appears in documents dating from the 10th century and which is located on top of a hill, has largely been restored and can be visited on the second Sunday of every month. Among the spaces open to the public are the courtyard, the fencing hall, the church of Santa Maria and the stables. The castle also offers views of the Garraf Massif, Collserola, the plain of Barcelona, Montjuïc, the Llobregat Delta and the coastline.
- Plaça del Castell, 1, 08860
The Llobregat delta has plenty of places open to visitors. You can explore its marshes, ponds, pools and beaches on foot or by bicycle. The protected area includes the Baix Llobregat Agricultural Park, one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the country. Another interesting feature of your visit to the Baix Llobregat is the possibility of acquiring products from local farmers who sell their produce directly to the public.
- Masia de Can Comas, Camí de la Ribera, s/n, 08820