There really is something for everybody here, from swimming in Cambrils, Salou or Miami Platja to cycling through verdant mountain ranges, encountering tranquil rural villages and enjoying fresh, pure water from natural springs. This area demonstrates the variety of the Costa Daurada, in particular the county of Baix Camp, which has extensive natural spaces in the Costa Daurada Mountains and the mountain ranges of Llaberia and Pradell-l’Argentera, all excellent places to spend the next 48 hours.
Afternoon day 1: Capafonts, La Mussara and L’Abellera
Around 350 square kilometres of forests and farmlands can be found in the region of the Costa Daurada Mountains (Les Muntanyes de la Costa Daurada). Such natural wealth makes it difficult to know where to start, but we suggest heading to Capafonts, a quiet village that has fantastic panorama views of the surrounding area and whose main landmark is a bread oven. That’s right, a bread oven! It’s not just any bread oven, though, but one that dates from the 13th century. You’ll find it just underneath the Town Hall, and it’s part of a wider complex, although the part that you’ll see has been turned into a museum and preserved in an excellent state. It was working and active until 1985, making it a rarity in Catalonia and of exceptional historical interest. You’ll also find some interesting old washing stones there, harking back to the pre-machine age.
Half an hour away by car is La Mussara, a village that has been uninhabited since 1959. The views over the Camp de Tarragona region are beautiful, but perhaps what's more appealing about this area is its romantic, enigmatic air. La Mussara, which belongs to the town of Vilaplana, features among its remains the old church and its bell tower from the mid-19th century, both worth seeing.
Your next stop this afternoon will be the Abellera Hermitage, about 2 kilometres from Prades. The building dates from 1570 and is set in a cliff, taking advantage of an existing cave. This makes the hermitage, cave and overall setting – with red earth – unique and definitely worth a visit. The patron saint of Catalan beekeepers is venerated there, and the crown of the Mother of God statue (which is normally not on public display) features 50 silver bees, with the queen bee and shield of Prades at the top.
In the evening, head to Prades, and discover the ‘red town’ while the sun is setting, making it look even more beautiful. You’ll see that the red stone dominates in different places such as the church, town wall and many houses. The colourful building material comes from the mountains around the town (as you’ve just seen in Abellera). The Plaça Major is a charming spot, and here you will also see one of the town’s main symbols, the Renaissance spherical fountain. It’s worth taking a relaxed walk around this walled town and exploring the remains of its castle, Romanic gateways and quadrangular defensive tower.
Morning day 2: Miró and Mont-roig del Camp
To start this new day, you’re off to Mont-roig del Camp where you’ll find streets that for many years were walked by a particularly famous regular visitor, the Catalan artist Joan Miró. Once you’ve discovered the layout and special light of Mont-roig that so captivated the artist, the Centre Miró is your next destination. This educational centre located in the old church boasts reproductions of various Miró paintings, documentaries about the man himself, and explanations about his relationship with the area. Miró found in Mont-roig a rural world, vineyards and, above all, nature. The Catalan artist even said that all his work had been conceived in Mont-roig.
Your next stop takes you west of the town, to a mountain that appears to be an enormous rock planted in the middle of the surrounding plain. Once more, its colour is reddish – and that’s where the town of Miró got its name: Mont-roig means Red Mountain in Catalan. There’s parking for your car right at the foot of the rock, so you only have to walk up the last part. At the top, you’ll find a whole world spread out below you – two hermitages, Mare de Déu de la Roca (which is very significant for the town of Mont-roig) and Sant Ramon de Penyafort. The former, as the building itself displays, has been around since the year 1230, while the second dates from 1586. Both of them were built in a place where a castle once stood. It’s a magnificent viewing point, unique, spectacular. And it’s even more fantastic if you walk along the Areny path. You can also see some fabulous but strange rock formations, which were doubtless created by the wind. The collective architecture of the hermitages, which look like they’re hovering over the mountain, is also memorable. Sant Ramon is at the top, rectangular and white, while Mare de Déu de la Roca, a bit further down, includes several buildings with fragments of red walls and others that are white – here a statue of the Mother of God, created in 1980 by local artist Francesc Javaloy, is venerated.
Afternoon day 2: La Serra de l’Argentera
Once you’ve had lunch, it’s off to Riudecanyes, in the Argentera mountain range. There is a variety of interesting sights here. One is the educational centre about local agricultural products (Centre d’Interpretació dels Fruits del Paisatge). It’s located within the old buildings of the town’s Agricultural Cooperative and aims to show visitors how the inhabitants of the interior part of the Baix Camp have adapted to the land down the centuries, and the many quality products they’ve been able to harvest from local fields. The centre includes audiovisual panels and interactive games, making this a fun visit suitable for all ages.
The other big attraction is the castle of Sant Miquel d’Escornalbou. It’s actually known as the Monastery Castle as it was first occupied by Augustinian monks, and then by Franciscans. However, all this changed with the confiscation of church lands and, decades later, the period in which the wealthy bourgeoisie acquired historical buildings and adapted them to their tastes to create new residences. It was in this way that Eduard Toda bought the castle and renovated it according to his tastes. Sant Miquel d’Escornalbou is today the result of a mixture of different epochs and all kinds of styles, and it is certainly worth getting to know.
Morning day 3: The Dips, mythological beings
Spend the third day getting to know the Serra de Llaberia, and in particular one of its prettiest villages: Pratdip. Its name comes from the legend of the Dips, black vampire dogs that supposedly disappeared in the 18th century. These mythological beings appear in the shield of Pratdip, and a monument to them stands at the entrance to the village, offering protection to its residents.
Whether the folk story grabs you or not, it’s worth taking the time to thoroughly explore Pratdip. From the outside, it’s picture-postcard pretty, while once in the village you’ll find medieval streets that take you to Ca la Torre, a defensive tower dating from the 13th or 14th century and which formed part of the town’s walls. In the same area you’ll find the church of Nativitat de Santa Maria, which has been modified various times down the centuries (it was first mentioned in the 12th century). Not far away there is another defensive tower, the Capet, a splendid construction that's 16 metres tall and was declared a Cultural Asset of National Interest in 1985. There is also a well-preserved gateway with an archway and what was the point of access to the interior of the walled town. And there's no doubt that you'll eventually come across an immense rock, or steep hill, which crowns the silhouette of Pratdip, and, at its very top, the remains of a medieval castle. From here, as well as from other points on your route, it’s easy to see the many fields surrounding the town, which have their own unique beauty.
Afternoon day 3: A Study centre about Serra de Llaberia
In Pratdip, there are many good places to have lunch, and in the afternoon you can go to the Study Centre of la Serra de Llaberia in the Plaça de l’Església, with an appealing layout and three themed spaces. In the first, you’ll find information about the natural and cultural values of the Serra, and its services, infrastructures and tourist activities. The second space is focused on the town of Pratdip, while in the third, you’ll encounter a mysterious atmosphere where you’ll learn four magical and mythological stories about the Serra de Llaberia.
You’re coming to the end of your trip. If you’re in no hurry to get away, we recommend taking a walk along the paths surrounding the town, and that way get to see for yourself some of the features of the Serra that you’ve just seen or read about in the Study Centre.
IN CO-OPERATION WITH PATRONAT COMARCAL DE TURISME MUNTANYES DE LA COSTA DAURADA
A castle that is peculiar, to say the least, from a time in which the wealthy bourgeoisie acquired historic buildings and adapted them to their tastes to make them their homes. Eduard Toda rehabilitated a monastery founded in 1153, with excellent views of the surrounding area. So, Sant Miquel d'Escornalbou is part early 20th century manor house and partly the remains of a remarkable religious building.
Located in the old mill and headquarters of the Agricultural Cooperative in Riudecanyes, here we can learn about the history and traditions of this inland region as audiovisual panels and interactive games take us on a trip through its landscapes and products.