Getaway to Moianès: Treasures above and below ground

In this region you discover the Toll Caves, the ice wells in La Ginebreda and the Santa Maria de L’Estany monastery

The small region of Moianès is the perfect size for a weekend break, where all the most interesting visits are within easy reach of one another. That doesn’t mean that two and a half days is a sufficient amount of time to discover everything, but it is long enough to get a good feel for the place and to enjoy very diverse heritage sites and natural features.

IN COLLABORATION WITH BARCELONA ÉS MOLT MÉS AND THE DIPUTACIÓ DE BARCELONA

Afternoon day 1: The wells and sheep of La Ginebreda

Afternoon day 1: The wells and sheep of La Ginebreda

Our suggested starting point for this getaway is Castellterçol, specifically on the outskirts of the town as you head toward Moià, where you'll find Mas La Ginebreda. This extensive farm cultivates cattle fodder and has over 250 Ripollès sheep, including lambs for visitors to pet. All the crops and the meat produced here are on their way to becoming organic.

You can also take a look at the Ice Wells, which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The four separate and very large wells are unique in the Mediterranean and demonstrate the importance of the ice industry in the pre–Industrial Age. Their proximity to Barcelona and the cold winters in this spot worked in their favour. One of the wells has recently been restored to make it suitable for visitors to enter its chilly depths.

Morning day 2: Exceptional caves

Morning day 2: Exceptional caves

A stone’s throw from Moià, and within its geographical boundaries, lies one of the most fantastical and frequently visited sites in the region: the Toll Caves. Explorations have led to the discovery that humans and wild prehistoric animals once lived here. Open to the public under supervised visits, the beautiful and unusual galleries stretch for over a kilometre. The guide explains many curious facts, including how the caves were rediscovered in modern times, what has been found here and what excavations are presently underway in this place where the sea once ran through long, long ago.

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Afternoon day 2: Stroll around the capital town

Afternoon day 2: Stroll around the capital town

After lunch, head off to Moià, a town with approximately 6,000 inhabitants. We recommend starting in the Plaça de Sant Sebastià, named after the local patron saint, and walking down C/ del Forn, with its old, emblematic buildings, among which are Can Carner, home to the Consorci del Moianès and the Hotel d’Entitats, and the house at number 25. Built in 1683, this was the first Escola Pia (Pious School) in Catalonia.

Once you reach Plaça Major, you can feast your eyes on the wide range of architectural details on all sides: the 13th-century vaults; the Santa Maria Church, built between the 17th and 18th centuries; and the engravings on the vicarage. Just off the square, you'l find the Rafael Casanova House Museum (on the street of the same name), birthplace of the Chief Councillor of Barcelona and symbol of the Catalan resistance against the Bourbon troops in 1714. The same building also houses the Museum of Archaeology and Palaeontology, which is closely linked to the Toll Caves you visited this morning.

Leaving the church behind you brings you to the monument dedicated to Casanova himself. At one end of the square, where the statue is, a sequence of manor houses with modernista touches catches the eye. Note that you're on C/ de Richard Wagner and the façades of the houses are inscribed with the names of the composer’s operas. This unlikely homage is due to the fact that Francesc Viñas i Dordal – one of the best tenors to ever have performed works by the German composer – was born here. Your tour Moià comes to an end with a peaceful wander around the town’s delightful wooded park.

Day 3: A day in L’Estany

Day 3: A day in L’Estany

You'll spend the last day of your getaway thoroughly exploring L’Estany, one of the most interesting towns in the region for various reasons. There's a spectacular feat of 18th-century engineering which still performs the same function even now, drawing water from the plain. This is the source of the town’s name, which means 'pond'. Even though the landscape was probably more beautiful when the water was on the surface, it caused disease; plus, the monks at the local Augustine monastery needed the land in order to cultivate crops. The solution was to build a dry stone ‘mine’ extending to almost half a kilometre in length. If you want to visit this underground network of artificial channels, we recommend you head to the La Mina Visitors Centre to find out about the guided tours they offer.

The Visitors Centre is situated in part of the former outbuildings of the Santa Maria de L’Estany Monastery, a fine example of the Romanesque style. Of particular note are the tops of the columns in the cloister: 72 capitals decorated with sculpted biblical scenes, heraldic icons and plant motifs. Founded in 1080, the monastery also contains a truly Gothic image of Mary sculpted out of a single block of alabaster.

Rooted in history and set in stone, it's time to bid farewell to Moianès.

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La Masia del Solà

Top-quality produce, with dishes ranging from meat and fish recipes to rice and seasonal specialities in a splendid, extensive menu that is based on carefully updated traditional Catalan cuisine. If you like to eat a hearty breakfast, take good note of this place and get ready to start your day with 'trinxat de col i patata' (a kind of bubble and squeak, served here with glazed bacon) or crispy kid meat with French fries, among other options.

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Les Voltes de Sant Sebastià

The people behind this restaurant in the capital of Moianès highlight dishes like tender lamb stuffed with cheese from Montbrú, duck stuffed with wild mushrooms, and pigs’ trotters stuffed with liver. We’re undoubtedly talking about one of the top restaurants in this newly constituted region, serving high-quality cuisine based on locally sourced produce. An added bonus is the fact that it’s located in the old farmyard of a century-old house.

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L’Esclopet

Located in the pretty village of Granera, L’Esclopet specialises in serving grilled meat dishes, and wild mushrooms when in season. Many of the products they use are sourced from local farms and are cooked in the traditional way. You can order 'escudella' and 'carn d’olla' (traditional dish of soup and boiled meat), 'botifarra' sausages, and steaks. Home-made desserts are also on offer at this restaurant, which is part of The Park on the Table gastronomic trail.

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El Rubell

Here they define their cuisine as, 'Typical Catalan top-quality home cooking, which has managed to evolve over time, incorporating contemporary tastes in a sensible way while maintaining the classical touch that is our trademark.' There’s little more to add to that description except to say that this long-standing restaurant in Monistrol de Calders was once an inn where footballer Ladislau Kubala used to stay.

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Urbisol

Serving well-presented, traditional Catalan and avant-garde dishes, this restaurant is located in the charmingly set four-star hotel of the same name which has a spa. Eating here is an unforgettable experience, from the starters to the dessert.

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Molí Vell d'en Sala

Moianès is a region of old flour mills, some of which, like this one, have been converted into country lodges. Molí Vell d'en Sala has preserved all the charm of its original stone walls, while the water that once powered it is now a fantastic pond-swimming pool that you can even go boating on. It’s a pastoral setting and ideal for families with children.

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Hotel La Violeta

Located at a crossroads near to the town of Castellterçol, this establishment was first opened 150 years ago to cater for the travellers who stopped off to rest and have a bite to eat. Although it's changed a lot since then, the hotel still serves basically the same function, with the added bonus of having become a charming place with six elegant and surprising rooms. The restaurant is another key element of this small hotel in Castellterçol.

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Mas Vilarrasa

Located on the outskirts of the capital of Moianès, this country house that sleeps a maximum of 11 guests has five bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. The house is equipped with all of the necessary household devices and has a garden, a swimming pool, and a barbecue area. Kids are sure to love the swimming pool and the games, as well as the farmyard with poultry birds and a horse.

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Motel El Toll

This motel has independent rooms with doors that open straight onto the garden in the quiet, pleasant village of Collsuspina. The motel is closely identified with the restaurant of the same name, which has been operating for 40 years and which we recommend for its local dishes. The motel has a swimming pool, a children’s play area, a car park, WiFi and even a small farm.

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Cal Sabata

This old village house has been restored from top to bottom, and since 2001 has functioned as a country lodge that sleeps a maximum of 11 people. It has a living room with a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, different sized bedrooms, and a fenced-off garden with a porch, a barbecue, and a deck. There are plenty of places to visit in the village of l'Estany, as well as a swimming pool, a sports centre and parks.

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