Day 1 – afternoon: crossing the gateways of history
To get your trip off on the right foot, start with a visit to the Castle of Castelldefels, found in the heart of the old town. Leave your car in the nearby car park, in C/Arcadi Balaguer, and you’ll soon be at the fortification. If you have time, the streets around the castle deserve a good look as a way to get to know this town where you’ll be spending much of the next two days. Take a walk around the base of the castle to find traces of the social activity carried out there and how it related to other places in the area. A good example is the country house (masia) of Can Gomar, on C/Bisbe Urqinaona, which today houses the local cultural centre. The most practical thing would be to start your tour here, because the entrance to the castle is just opposite. Wander to the left or right, along the outskirts of the walls and eventually you’ll reach Plaça del Castell, where the entrance is. You’ll see an impressive gateway – it marks the place where you’ll leave the present behind to go back many centuries in time. Everything’s ready for crossing the doorway of history.
If the weather is good, linger a while in the Castle Park, an unusual garden with exotic plants and few paths, which will take you to the threshold of the castle itself. The first thing that will doubtless catch your attention is the privileged position it occupies, overlooking the Delta of the Llobregat river and the plain of Barcelona, from Garraf to Collserola. But this position shouldn’t be a total surprise. The strategic location was key for its construction, especially as it was an excellent spot for keeping an eye on ships arriving on the coast. This was not something that was ignored in medieval times, nor indeed, by the older civilisations that inhabited Castelldefels even earlier – on the site of the castle, Paleolithic remains have been found, along with some from an Iberian village and a Roman villa. It’s no surprise, then, that the troops of Charlemagne who came from the north to regain this area from the caliphate of Cordova, fixed their attention on it. Where you’re standing now, in the 10th century, these conquerors constructed a small chapel in the Romanesque style.