Devoted equally to meteorology and astronomy, the Pujalt Observatory is a unique place where, if you visit it during the day, you can see the apparatus used in these two scientific fields, and if you go there when it is dark, you can observe planets and stars through its telescope. It was founded just over a decade ago and hosts regular talks, workshops and courses on its specialities. It is a must-see for anyone interested in meteorological phenomena and in exploring the cosmos.
This morning we will be spending a little more time in Pujals, though this time we will call in at the People’s Army Memorial, a site designed to keep the memory of the Spanish Civil War alive. Starting out at a fully equipped Interpretation Centre, visitors to the memorial complex also have the opportunity to visit an air raid shelter and to follow a signposted route around a wood that once served as a training ground for the Republican army during the war. The memorial is also a tribute to those who fought and, in many cases, died in defence of their freedom and ideals.
After lunch we will be leaving Pujals to head for the Centre for Paleontological Restoration and Interpretation (CREP), located in Hostalets de Pierola. Nearby lies Can Mata, one of the world’s most important paleontological sites, especially for the restoration of primate remains. That is the reason for the creation of the CRIP centre, which, according to its coordinators, has as its main mission 'the promotion and dissemination of the extraordinary paleontological wealth and importance of the finds from the Miocene era present in the local area'. The items you can see on display revolve around four main axes: paleoparasitology, the landscapes and fauna of the Miocene era, paleontological excavations, and finally the restoration and conservation of fossil material. It is a good idea to join a guided tour of the facilities, on which you will be told about the importance of the Can Matas dig and learn all about the origins of man. The guided visits begin at 12 noon and 5.30pm on Saturdays and at noon only on Sundays. Guided visits can also be arranged by phone on 664 043 755.
We will be spending the last day of our trip to the region in Capellades. In the morning we will be calling in at an old paper mill dating from the 18th century that nowadays houses one of Europe’s most comprehensive museums devoted to paper. The mill is located here because Capellades and its surroundings were an important centre for paper production in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially for the production of deckled and cigarette paper. The town’s Paper Mill Museum has on display exhibits ranging from traditional paper making tools and machines to examples of paper and documents dating from the 12th century to the modern age. The elegance of the four-storey building, which is white in colour and has many windows, some of which are designed to allow a current of air to pass in order to dry the paper, is complemented by the presence of a small lake known as “La Bassa”, fed by a natural spring supplying 12 million of waters a day. It was once used to power the 16 paper mills working in the area at that time.
Once we have finished our tour of the mill, a nice way of complementing the experience is to have lunch at one of the local restaurants that serves arròs paperer, an old rice dish that was once prepared by the workers in the area’s paper mills.
While Hostalets is the site of an important archaeological dig, Capellades can boast of its Prehistoric Park, with some twenty archaeological sites dating from a number of eras from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. According to experts, the site of the greatest scientific importance in the area, which is open to visitors, is the Abric Romaní, a cliff shelter used by Neanderthals. It was discovered in 1983 and excavations are still being carried out here under the supervision of Dr. Eudald Carbonell. As well as its archaeological value, this spot stands out for its natural beauty, with the Cinglera del Capelló cliff face as the main attraction. Guided visits are scheduled year round and can be privately reserved for groups of 15 or more. They last around an hour and include a workshop on throwing spears and shooting arrows.
On this trip we have travelled back into the past and reached out to the stars but unfortunately it is now time to end our journey and return to the present.
If you’re interested in eating at a typical Spanish roast house, El Abuelo in Igualada is the place for you. The quality of their wood fire–grilled dishes and the raw materials that go into them has won them plenty of accolades, and the restaurant is also well known for its extensive variety of 'tortillas' (omelettes) – more than 40 types. Meat lovers will especially appreciate the roasted suckling pig, though its long cooking time means that it must be ordered in advance.
As its name suggests ('conill' means rabbit) this place serves excellent rabbit dishes, but that’s not all, and even seafood dishes have their place on the menu here, including cuttlefish meatballs with and prawns with cuttlefish ink. However, the dishes that have won awards are the cannelloni, pigs’ trotters with prunes and pine kernels, and the shoulder of rabbit. More than 100 years of history endorse the good work of this well-known restaurant in Capellades.
The restaurant at Hotel Robert is located at the foot of the mountain top village of La Pobla de Claramunt, which is crowned by a magnificent castle. It makes for a great outing so better fill up first with this restaurant’s exquisite stuffed onions or equally excellent duck with turnips. Top quality Catalan cuisine.
Following the completion of the building work on the dual carriageway between Barcelona and Lleida, this restaurant has lost the privilege of lying practically equidistant between the two cities and therefore being an almost obligatory port of call for drivers looking for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But it’s still worth coming here for its traditional and more daring dishes that are inspired by Mediterranean cuisine. Rooms are also available.
Tracing its origins back to 1949 and located in the industrial heritage Rec neighbourhood, the Igualada leather museum was first opened in the 1990s in the old 19th-century Cal Boyer cotton factory. It offers four circuits: 'Man and water', 'From the pit to the pumps', 'Leather in history' and 'The world of leather'. The other centre is set in the old 18th-century Cal Granotes tannery, where you can learn everything about the tanning process in the preindustrial era.
A popular destination for school trips and attracting more than 30,000 people every year, the Capellades Paper Mill Museum is also worth visiting for adults. Inaugurated in 1961 in one of the town’s seventh-century mills, the museum has a collection illustrating seven centuries of paper production and culture through visits and workshops. The mill still generates half of its income from the sale of paper made using traditional techniques.
Rather than amenities, castles are monuments, and this is one of 13 castles run by the History Museum of Catalonia. With more than 1,000 years of history, Claramunt Castle is one of the icons of the region, one of the most spectacular forts in the country and the main attraction of the region’s Border Castle Trail. Access is on foot, but the 25-minute walk to the top of the hill will be well-rewarded. The trail also includes the castles of Òdena, Tossa, Miralles and Vilademàger.