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Getaway to the Costa Daurada: Landscape of the Geniuses

Visit Reus, Mont-roig del Camp and El Vendrell, towns with links to Gaudí, Miró and Pau Casals, respectively

By Xavier Amat |
Mont-roig del Camp
© Joan Capdevila

The Costa Daurada is a land of geniuses, of world-renowned Catalans. Antoni Gaudí spent his childhood in Reus, and Pau Casals was from El Vendrell, where he later had a summer house near the sea, which is now a museum dedicated to the cellist. Joan Miró was born in Barcelona, but he spent a lot of time in Mont-roig del Camp in the Baix Camp area, where he found light and inspiration. The Landscape of the Geniuses ('El Paisatge dels Genis' in Catalan) is a route that lets you follow in the footsteps of these artists while you discover the lands where they grew up and grew as artists.

Reus Gaudí Paisatge dels Genis
© Joan Capdevila Vallvé / El Paisatge dels Genis

Afternoon day 1: Antoni Gaudí

The capital of the Baix Camp region, Reus is a commercial, dynamic and cultural city. And back in the 18th and 19th centuries and into the early 20th century it was even more so.

We suggest you wander through the streets of the history centre, following the route of modernista buildings. If you've got kids with you, they can make it a game: Who can spot the flowers and animals on the façades?

A young Antoni Gaudí lived with his father, Fransec Gaudí, his mother, Antonia Cornet, and his brother, Francesc en Reus, in the family home, and there he discovered a magical space in the boiler room, which was his first introduction to metal works. It's still there in the house, whose exterior you can visit following the Gaudí & Reus route, which also passes by other spots that were important to Gaudí in his childhood: the Prioral de Sant Pere church, where he was baptised, the old Pies schools where he studied, and the Santuari de la Misericòrdia.

A good place to start or stop the route is at the Gaudí Centre, a study centre designed with the latest technologies, where you can discover this particular genius's secrets and learn about his innovative architecture. It's a modern, fun and interactive space meant for visitors to touch and experiment with the exhibits.

But wait, there's more. While the kids run around the central square, Plaça del Mercadel, looking for elements of nature in the façade of the modernista Casa Navàs, adults can take some time to enjoy the popular Reus vermouth.

Mont-roig del Camp Joan Miró
© Joan Capdevila Vallvé / El Paisatge dels Genis

Morning day 2: Joan Miró

Your visit to the Costa Daurada today takes you to Mont-roig del Camp. The first time Joan Miró came here, to recover from an illness, it inspired him to become a painter. For him, Mont-roig was his unverse in colours. He said, 'The colour red is the colour of the Mare de Déu de la Roca hermitage and gives the town its name. The colour blue is the sky over Mont-roig. Gree is the colour of the carob trees, and yellow is the jewel of Mont-roig, its flowers and small plants.'

An excursion to the red mountain is a must, as is a visit to the hermitage, from where you can enjoy spectacular views. The brave among you can look out for the silhouette of the Moorish king and his horse on the other side of the gorge. Legend has it that this king had gone to steal a silver lamp and jewels from the Sant Ramon hermitage and from the Mare de Déu church, and as he was doing so, the weather turned stormy, complete with thunder and lightning. As the king mounted his horse, the beast got a fright from the storm, reared and slipped, and fell to the ravine below, where they both lost their lives, a spot now known as 'the descent of the Moorish king' ('La baixada del rei moro', in Catalan).


Afternoon day 2: The Miró Centre

After lunch we suggest you head for the Centre Miró, which is a great starting point for understanding the relationship between the artist and Mont-roig. Do you know what Miró's inspiration was for the stars we often see in his work? It was the criss-crossed stakes he saw in the Mont-roig fields that farmers used for tomato plants. The land, animals, and all the elements of nature in Mont-roig are included in 'The Farm' ('La Masia', 1921-1922), one of his large paintings from his magical realism period, with a certain air of naivety, and which is now on show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

In the centre you can see the the original tapestry 'The Lizard with the Golden Feathers' ('El llangardaix de les plomes d’or', 1989), which the Miró family donated to the municipality of Mont-roig on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the artist's birth in 1993. The tapestry is by Josep Royo, with the drawing by Miró.

To close out the day, there's nothing better than a visit to the Pixerota beach, frequented by the painter when he was in Mont-roig. He would go there to exercise, but he also spent hours and hours observing the stars and the moonlight. He would draw in the sand and pick up objects that caught his eye.

El Vendrell Platja de Sant Salvador
© Joan Capdevila Vallvé / El Paisatge dels Genis

Morning day 3: Pau Casals

The third genius on our itinerary is Pau Casals. You can start in El Vendrell by visiting the Casa Nadiua house-museum, where the cellist, composer and conductor was born. There you're taken back to the 19th century, complete with extremely narrow staircases, and wash basins, a chicken coop and kitchen utensils of the time. Casals's baby cot and his piano are still there as well.

Afterwards, head toward Sant Salvador beach, where what used to be his summer home is now the seaside Pau Casals Museum. The museum offers a programme of activities throughout the year that includes special things to do for kids. Don't miss the theatrical visit with Maria the maid and Ramon the fisherman of Sant Salvador.

Platja de Sant Salvador El Vendrell
© Joan Capdevila Vallvé / El Paisatge dels Genis

Afternoon day 3: Sant Salvador

If you're still up for it, take a stroll along Sant Salvador beach and stop by the hermitage of the same name. Along the seafront you'll see old wine and 'aguardiente' storehouses that were converted into residences for the bourgeoisie connected to vineyards and wine-making.

Listening to the sounds of nature in Pau Casals's El Vendrell – birdsong, the wind and the sea – you understand the genius a bit better; one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, one of the best cellists of all time who also excelled as an orchestra conductor and a composer, and who, in spite of his long tours and period of exile, never forgot this land or this sea.

Cultural venues

Museums, History

Gaudí Centre Reus

Although he designed no building in Reus, the architect Antoni Gaudí is a constant presence in the city. Located in the bustling Plaça del Mercadal, this centre uses the latest technology and spectacular scale models to explore his life and works, making a visit here a complete experience for the senses.

Centre Miró
© Joan Capdevila Vallvé

Miró Centre

A tribute to an illustrious visitor to the village, this interpretation centre focussing on Joan Miró and his work, occupies an original setting in the old church in Mont-Roig del Camp. We’ll find everything from facsimile reproductions of paintings related to the village to videos on his work and his relationship to Mont-Roig.

Museums, History

Pau Casals House Museum

This house-museum near the sea is where the musician Pau Casals rested during his breaks between world tours and where visitors can now explore his career and the gardens, sculpture gallery and music room of the house, which was reformed by architect Antoni Puig i Gairalt in the 1930s.

Casa nadiua de Pau Casals
© X. A.
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Pau Casals’ birthplace

In the centre of Vendrell we can visit the house in which Pau Casals was born and where he spent his childhood and youth. It’s a humble house with furniture dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. The guided visits allow visitors to learn about the human side of Catalonia’s greatest cellist and explore his origins and how his home town greeted the news of his death.