Bages, in the heart of Catalonia, is an area with many points of interest. To make the most of the relatively short time in the region, this itinerary focuses on three main sights: the capital city of Manresa, which you'll visit last; the wineries of the Pla de Bages DO; and Cardona, with its spectacular castle, which is where you'll kick off your adventure.
IN COLLABORATION WITH BARCELONA ÉS MOLT MÉS AND THE DIPUTACIÓ DE BARCELONA
Your first stop in Bages is one of its most emblematic and majestic historical sites: Cardona Castle. It's said that construction on it started no less than 2,500 years ago, but even today it dominates the land impressively. Much of it is dedicated to tourism, with many spaces open to visitors, including the ducal patio, the cloister, and the round Minyona Tower from which the views are simply breathtaking. We recommend you sign up for a guided tour to discover the castle’s interior and the adjacent Collegiate Church of Sant Vicenç. You'll learn how the buildings were of vital historic and strategic importance as well as having special religious significance, as Sant Ramon Nonat died here in 1240. It's also a notable heritage site: the Sant Vicenç Church is one of the finest examples of Catalan First Romanesque architecture.
Some say that the name 'Bages' comes from Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. Whether this is true or not, what is certain is that wine has been made in this region since Roman times and the Pla de Bages Designation of Origin (DO) is gaining new fans with every passing day. There are a dozen wineries in the DO, and we have lined up visits to a few of them today so you can learn some of their secrets.
Whichever winery you choose, each has its own particular charm. For instance, some have ancient stone vats that testify to the long-standing passion for winemaking in Bages. Such ¡s the case with Abadal in Santa Maria d’Horta d’Avinyó, set in a beautiful landscape. As well as discovering this winery, you're also off to the Wine Museum, located in a 12th-century country house, to see some of the aforementioned vats. There you're sure to hear about the picapoll, a variety native to the Pla de Bages, which grows a small green oval grape with a very thin, tender skin and the emblem of the DO. Once the tour is completed, you'll enjoy your first wine tasting.
Your next tasting will be when you reach Mas de Sant Iscle, within the boundaries of Sant Fruitós de Bages, where they've been making wine since the early 19th century. The farmhouse, which dates back to 950 AD, is close to the vineyards, so visits always start on the land and you're bound to see the labourers hard at work on some seasonal task. Then you can head to the winery, where you can have lunch, and which holds jazz and classical music concerts throughout the year.
When you've had your fill of food and wine, you can set off to Castellar Castle in the municipality of Aguilar de Segarra. On a guided visit, you'll discover this surprising Gothic site, which comprises the spectacular castle, the Sant Miquel Church, a rectory, and a mill. It's one of the few fortifications in Catalonia to have been both a military stronghold and home to tenant farmers.
It's your last day, so this must be Manresa. The region's capital can be explored from several attractive angles. If you're the sort who likes having things explained to you, we suggest you look up the list of guided tours on offer and choose one that matches your interests. You might opt for a walk around the old city, the part that lies within the medieval wall; that is, the historic centre. You'll discover delightful spots such as the Plaça Major, the Plana de l’Om, C/ de Sant Miquel and C/d’en Botí. Special mention goes to C/ del Balç, which retains the same structure it had 700 years ago, when Manresa was one of the most important cities in the territory of the Crown of Aragon and received the monarchs with full honours. In the Study Centre on the same street, the latest technology brings Peter IV the Ceremonious (known as Pere III in Catalonia) back to life to explain the details of medieval Manresa.
A detour to the Santa Maria Basilica (La Seu) is essential. This Gothic construction marks the profile of the top of Puigcardener, the city’s iconic hill. You can also follow in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who spent 11 months here in 1522 and wrote his Spiritual Exercises in a cave called Santa Cova. This site, possibly Manresa’s most internationally famous spot, is where we bid farewell to the town and the region of Bages.
Although Santpedor is nowhere near the coast, Tesi offers good, well-cooked fish dishes, ranging from seafood soups to monkfish with aubergine puree and sweet tomato. There’s also plenty here for meat eaters: duck breast, shoulder of lamb, wild boar... it all depends on what’s in season. This restaurant gives you good value for money with a good level of expertise in the kitchen.
If you closed your eyes while eating you could easily imagine you were in a restaurant on the seafront, but no, you're in Sant Fruitós del Bages, in Can Ladis, a restaurant that focuses on fish and seafood, and where you can enjoy dishes like sautéed squid, monkfish with clams, paella and fish stews. So, if you’re in the Bages region and you love seafood, come to Can Ladis.
They may have just celebrated 40 years in the business, but at Can Miliu they're enjoying their work as much as they did the first day, with friendly service and great Catalan dishes using locally sourced products. This restaurant has it all, with rooms for celebrations, business lunches and a terrace that's popular with smokers and with all diners when the weather's good.
At the head of Ospi is Oscar Piedra – hence the name of the restaurant. Piedra is an experienced, award-winning chef who offers two types of culinary experiences: miniature cuisine, served in the bar-café on the one hand, and high-quality dishes based on market cuisine but with signature touches on the other. Also on offer are fixed-price menus, a catering service, and facilities for special celebrations.
As the name of this restaurant suggests, here you can eat pasta and pizza. But much more besides. Raviolo serves excellent dishes of black rice, cod and duck as well as seasonal produce and top-quality pasta made daily in their own workshop in the centre of the capital of Bages.
Where you stay now when you go to La Tina is where they used to store the wine ages ago, but don't worry, it doesn't smell like a wine cellar anymore. What you will get is an excellent country farmhouse where you can enjoy magnificent countryside and where you'll find a swimming pool, a barbecue, a terrace and a garden. Inside you won't want for much either, and next door is a farmhouse with a farm. The accommodation sleeps up to six, and it is rented out as a whole, plus small pets are welcome.
The country farmhouse Cal Jan Bastardas dates back to the 18th century and offers magnificent panoramic views of Montserrat mountain. Outside there's a garden, a swimming pool and a terrace, while inside you'll find four bedrooms, a fireplace, and everything you need to spend a few restful days without having to move from the site if you don't want to. However, if you do want to go out and grab some supplies, a few metres away there's a house where they sell organic products and offer food services.
This house is in the greater metropolitan area of Talamanca and sleeps eight to ten guests. The house is divided into to floors: the ground floor is where you'll find the dining room, kitchen, a bathroom, the terrace, two double bedrooms and a single bedroom; upstairs there's a loft-type space with a dining area, kitchen, one double bedroom, a sofabed and a bathroom.
This campsite is the closest one to the capital of Bages, so it's a good place as a base for visiting Manresa and many other places of interest that are quite nearby. The name of the campground pays tribute to one of the founding members of the Caravaners Union of Catalonia, the organisation that manages the site. Here you'll find open spaces, a sports complex, a swimming pool, a social area, kids' park and more.
This city hotel is located close to the entertainment centre of Manresa. Though it doesn't boast great luxuries, it's got all the comforts you need whether you're visiting for business or pleasure. If you are in town for business, know that there are plenty of convention and meeting rooms available as well. Bedrooms are well equipped and the restaurant is decent, with Catalan and market cuisine. For the last quarter of a century, visitors to the capital of Bages have found the doors open at Hotel Els Noguers.
The Scenic Arts Centre in Manresa has a busy schedule that includes performances in various genres, as well as education in the scenic arts and a bar-restaurant. It’s set in a noucentista-style building from the 1920s that was closed in 1980 and reopened in 2007 as a theatre and concert hall. The main hall has seating for 8,000 spectators, while the smaller one seats 200. It's managed by the Galliner association and attracts some 75,000 spectators every year.
The hero of the great Catalan defeat of 1714, head councillor Rafael Casanova, was born in this house to a rich family in 1660 and it's changed very little since then. The house already existed in the 16th century, but the Casanova family bought and renovated it in the 17th century. Look out for the Gothic window and the 18th-century Ester Cycle paintings. It also houses an exhibition on Casanova's historical period, the town, his life and his ancestry, as well as the municipal archives and the Moia county museum. The centre belongs to the Museu d’Història de Catalunya network.
The cultural and recreational complex run by the Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera near Manresa invites you to savour it slowly: the Romanesque monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, the Alicia Foundation, the ecological market gardens, the hotel with three restaurants, one with a Michelin star, and spaces for events and meetings. In brief: art, cuisine and nature for all ages, tastes, and budget, tied up together in a beautiful ribbon since 2007.
Something new and difficult to explain. Abstract, but palpable. And very expanisve: it covers a whole region. But what on earth is a geopark? It's a geological and mining park, an outdoor museum that covers almost all the municipalities in Bages, as well as Collbató (Baix Llobregat Nord), with five information points and nine centres: the Salpetre caves, the Toll caves, Montserrat, Sant Llorenç, La Culla, Súria, the Valentí Masachs Geology Museum, Sallent and Cardona. It's covered by two routes: from Moià to Cardona and from Moià to Collbató.
This is the last bit of the Principality that succumbed to the Bourbons in 1714. A refuge for the viscounts, earls, and dukes of Cardona for seven centuries – kings uncrowned by the 'white gold' (salt), the castle is an imposing place with two great treasures: the divine Romanesque collegiate church of Sant Vicenç and the Minyona tower. A Gothic cloister was added, as were 17th-century bulwarks. The castle also boasts an inn, recently made into a museum, all of which make up the monument that is the History Museum of Catalonia, with all that entails.
This museum never takes a day off. It shows the cream of the crop of the abbey’s heritage, gathered from the Napoleonic devastation. The museum opened in 1963, but its contents date back to 1911, with objects from the monk Bonaventura Ubach’s expedition to the Middle East. The modernista rooms from Puig i Cadalfalch feature, over two floors, both old and contemporary paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, Byzantine icons, jewellery, archaeological pieces from the biblical world, and Nigra Sum, about the adventures of the Virgin of Montserrat.