Calafell: History and fun even in winter
We visit the main attractions in a town known for its beaches that has many other worthwhile sights
Fri Dec 12 2014
You’ll find five kilometres of fine-sand beaches in Calafell, in the north of the Costa Daurada, an area well-known to both locals and visitors as a summer destination. However, in the town itself, which was settled by Ibers, Romans, Arabs and feudal lords long before the arrival of tourists, there are many other great sights to see, making it a place worth visiting at any time of the year. We’re sure you’ll agree once you’ve been.
Our tour starts with the Iberic Ciutadella, a village dating from the sixth century to the first century B.C., and which has been reconstructed ‘in situ’ following 20 years of archaeological excavations and research. You can walk around streets, walls and houses built in their original style, and learn about the lifestyle and customs of the people who lived here, so long ago. The site is close to the sea, as is the Museu Casa Barral, found on the Passeig de Sant Joan de Deu. In this former fish shop lived Carlos Barral, poet, editor, writer and politician (1928-1989). The museum has been open for the past ten years and has two functions: first, to study and publicise the town’s fishing history, and second, to raise awareness about the literary and editorial work of Barral.
The next stage of our tour takes us away from the beaches, toward the historic centre of Calafell. Take a walk among its streets, and be sure not to miss the sixth-century Santa Creu castle, which provides an impressive view of the town. You can take a guided tour there, while around its perimeter you’ll find the remains of cabins and grain silos that pre-date the castle. In the neighbouring town of Segur de Calafell is the church of Sant Miquel, a small architectural gem that demonstrates the transition from the Romanic to the Gothic periods. Please note that the interior is not open to the public.
For a complete change of pace, if you’re in the mood for some sport, in Calafell you can practise Nordic walking and a wide range of water sports. There is also La Graiera golf course, located close to the sea and encircled by forests. With a hilly terrain, this course is exceptional for its three lakes surrounded by local fauna. The club renewed its facilities a few years ago, and the new clubhouse serves lunch in its restaurant and has a bar service throughout the day.
Talking of restaurants, food is another great feature of the village, and you’ll find it difficult to choose between the different traditional dishes on offer such as 'xató' (a cod salad) and 'arrosejat' (a rice dish similar to paella), served at the many excellent local restaurants.
Where to stay and where to eat
Offering magnificent views over the plains of Calafell, you’ll reach this hilltop castle by walking up along narrow streets with a medieval air. It was built here in the twelfth century during the reconquest and repopulation of the territory against the Moors and the old town of Calafell grew in its sheltering shadow. You’ll see the remains of the medieval necropolis with tombs carved into the rock. Above the church is the comunidor, a square building that was open to the four winds and storms and was reputed to ward off both storms and demons and bless the town. You can still see cannon holes in the castle walls.
- Carrer de les Penyes, s/n, (Calafell)
There are not many places where you can stroll around a reconstruction of an Iberian settlement “in situ”. Following meticulous research, the archaeologists here have reproduced the walls, streets and houses that stood here between the 6th and the 1st centuries BC.
- Carretera C-31 km 141, (Calafell)
Home of writer and publisher Carlos Barral and one of the few of the old fishermen’s supply shops left in the village. The centre aims to recuperate and promote the traditions and customs of the seafaring community of Calafell and to promote Barral’s literary and publishing work.
- Pg. Marítim Sant Joan de Déu, 18, (Calafell)