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Getaway to Vallès Occidental: A walk through history

Discover the region's Laietani past, industrial heritage and modernista summer houses

We’ve chosen four towns in the region of Vallès Occidental for this 48-hour getaway: Santa Perpètua de Mogoda, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Rubí and Montcada i Reixac. This is a region rich in history and with a diversity of attractions, including an Iberian settlement, medieval castles, art museums and neighbourhoods that haven’t changed much in over 100 years. The Vallès region is extremely varied, with a long history behind it.

Afternoon day 1: Between Mogoda and Santiga

Afternoon day 1: Between Mogoda and Santiga

You'll spend the first afternoon of your trip in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda, beginning in the agricultural colony in the south-east of the town centre which emerged on the grounds of a 12th-century fortified farmhouse. The neighbourhood is made up of about 50 houses spread over two streets, one old and one new. There are occasional tours of the fortified farmhouse, which is spread over three floors with a central patio, a pond, and a 16th-century chapel.

Afterwards, head to the older neighbourhood of Santiga, which has kept the same 19th-century appearance that it had at the time it became part of Santa Perpètua. In its centre you’ll find a 12th-century Roman church, a castle, a fortified 10th-century farmhouse – declared a National Heritage Site – and a washing site. Though serious industrialisation didn’t arrive in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda until the 1960s, some factories, like the Vapor Arañó, built in 1857, marked the beginning of an urbanisation project which saw the development of the plain that lies between the church, La Rambla and the Avinguda de Santiga. The building, a notable example of industrial architecture in the region, is now property of the municipality and one of its warehouses is used as a civic centre. Look out for some of the 17 workers' houses that still stand near the factory, among which is Ca n'Oller, a classic Catalan farmhouse that's been in the hands of the same agricultural family for 700 years.

Day 2: Cerdanyola, Iberians and Dames

Day 2: Cerdanyola, Iberians and Dames

There are so many things to see in Cerdanyola del Vallés, a town with a fascinating legacy covering different eras, that we recommend you dedicate a whole day to it. You could, for example, start the day by visiting the Poblat Íber de Ca n’Oliver, an archeological site of a settlement once inhabited by a Laietani tribe between the 6th and 1st centuries A.D. The site, which occupies more than 6,000m2, is located on a hill in the Collserola mountain range, and houses a museum and three replica buildings – two houses and a workshop – where you can learn about the daily life of the Iberians.

After this you could hop into an imaginary time machine and travel to the time when Cerdanyola became an important summer holiday destination, at the beginning of the 20th century, and visit the modernista building Can Domènech. Built by Gaietà Buïgas, the building was once home to the Teatre Casino, and was later privately owned. Since 2009 it's been the headquarters of the Museu d'Art de Cerdanyola, displaying works by a wealth of artists linked to the city, including the stained glass piece 'Les Dames de Cerdanyola', (The Ladies of Cerdonyola), which is considered a masterpiece of the modernisme art movement.

Perhaps you’ll then whizz back, in your machine, to the medieval period of Cerdanyola, and take a look at the castle of Sant Marçal, another national heritage site. Though the castle was refurbished in 1895 by Gaietà Buïgas, it retains its historic 12th century appearance. In the outskirts of the Vall de les Feixes (in the Collserola mountain range), you’ll find the 12th century Roman parish church of Sant Iscle and Santa Victòria de les Feixes, as well as the 14th century baroque hermitage of Santa Maria de las Feixes. These are just a few of the ‘must sees’ of Cerdanyola.

Day 3: An ethnographic museum and a lake

Day 3: An ethnographic museum and a lake

For your last day in el Vallès, start in a museum where you can easily spend all morning. The Museu Etnogràfic Vallhonrat de Rubí has an extensive collection and brings together pieces from various periods of domestic Catalan life.

For example, you'll find a room dedicated to the inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries, with special attention to the evolution of electrical appliances, but also to siphons, comics, postcards and 'cromos de xocolatina' (collectors cards contained in chocolate packaging). The Bodega room is dedicated to – you guessed it – objects related to the long tradition of wine production in the area, and the Mobiliari room is centred mainly around the furniture that filled the living rooms of the wealthiest houses in the villages.

The final destination of the day is Montcada i Reixac. One of the most unusual and spectacular places is the Laguna Park, which is of great environmental importance and a natural beauty spot. Ideal for stretching the legs, a walk around the area will take you from an observatory to viewing points, provided to help you better admire the natural lake and surrounding area.

Continuing the theme of nature and natural parks, Can Cuiàs is a gateway to Collserola and offers panoramic views of Montcada i Reixac hill and of the church of Sant Pere Reixac. And there's yet another park: Parc de les Aigües, where you’ll find the Casa de les Aigües, an old pump and extraction centre built around the underwater spring of the Besòs river, another fine example of Catalan industrial modernista architecture. Walking around the urban centre it won’t be long before you find one of the most emblematic buildings of the municipality, begun in 1918 by the architect Josep Graner and today home to a sociocultural space where workshops, courses and exhibitions are held. If there's an exhibition on that strikes your fancy, going to see it could be a good way to finish this fantastic trip.

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Les Brases de Ponsferrer

Traditional, home-style cuisine based on locally sourced produce and with a special emphasis on wood-grilled meat dishes, though with other recommendable options like rice dishes, Galician-style octopus and snails. Also, a notable wine list.

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La Pastora

Despite their rather tight opening hours – only Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, with exceptions sometimes made on other days for groups – they're generous with the size of their dishes here, and with the views on offer of the Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac Natural Park. Set in what was once the cottage of a shepherdess (hence the name), at this restaurant, hearty cooked breakfasts and mountain cuisine lunches are the main attractions.

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La Bodeguilla

This restaurant in Terrassa has been operating for a quarter of a century now, but time doesn’t seem to have taken its toll on the attractive decor, nor on its dishes, which, while based on market cuisine, have creative, signature cuisine touches. The tasting menu changes every month, and at the time of writing features plankton risotto with squid and roasted veal with shitake mushrooms. The menu is varied and extensive.

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Vermell

This restaurant in Hotel Sant Cugat, with its casual ambience (guess the dominant colour – 'vermell' means red), serves well-presented dishes with a certain minimalist and daring character. We recommend the cod and vegetable cannelloni with cream of 'botifarra' sausage, the risottos and the pork ribs. If you opt for the gastronomic tasting menu, you have the chance to taste a variety of Chef Germán Espinosa’s creations.

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Tast & Gust

Cosy, tastefully decorated, ideal for a quiet dinner and with excellent service. The food is excellent here too, and if you like steak tartare, we can’t think of any other place that prepares it in so many different ways. They also offer private dining rooms and a carefully selected wine list.

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DoubleTree by Hilton La Mola

As one of its slogans says, this hotel is far from the noise but close to everything else. It's surrounded by the Natural Park of Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac and therefore by rich and luxuriant nature, but it's also close to the town of Terrassa and the main roads of the region. The hote is avant-garde, modern and designed for business professionals with its 26 multipurpose meeting rooms, though you’ll also feel welcome if you stay here as a tourist in one of its 186 rooms. This four-star establishment also has a complete spa complex.

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Aparhotel del Golf

If you prefer to stay in an apartment during your visit to Vallès Occidental, you may opt for the Aparthotel del Golf, which is located in a quiet spot and has fully equipped apartments with one, two or three bedrooms. It also offers a swimming pool, a garden and parking. There's free WiFi, and you can add a breakfast option, and they have bicycle hires available as well.

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Hotel Arrahona

L’Arrahona is a three-star establishment located in a quiet part of Sabadell. It boasts 49 rooms and 39 apartments, a bar, a restaurant, a terrace-garden, covered parking and even a shopping centre. All of the rooms face outside and have all the necessary commodities, while the apartments have everything you need to ensure a pleasant stay.

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Qgat Vallès

Having just celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2016, this hotel set in an old country house is ideal if you’re thinking of spending a few days in Sant Cugat del Vallès, since it's located in a quiet area of the town. Its gardens, terraces and lounges are elegant and perfectly complement its thirty-odd spacious rooms. You should also try its restaurant, whose extensive menu features dishes with fresh, top-quality ingredients.

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Bluebay City

Located on the outskirts of Sant Cugat del Vallès, this three-star establishment stands in a green valley and has a leafy garden that's ideal for resting and relaxing. Highlights among its services include an outdoor swimming pool, free parking, a restaurant, WiFi, a gym and a games room. It has around a hundred rooms, some of which are elegant, and spacious suites with terraces.

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Museu del Gas

Opened in 2012, in the middle of the economic crisis, and in a square called, appropriately, Plaça del Gas, the headquarters of the Fundació Gas Natural Fenosa is set in an old power station with gas engines called La Energía. On display you’ll find the history of the company and the industry, the historical records of the company, and temporary exhibitions and activities for everyone. The first year it attracted 22,000 visitors. Climb up to the lookout for the views.

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mNACTEC

The Catalan modernist–style Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory has been home to the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia for the last two decades. It features around a dozen permanent and various temporary exhibitions that reflect the scientific advances that have changed our lives and document Catalonia’s industrial heritage. The museum collection is also spread out across 25 territorial museums, and the Generalitat government is planning to integrate all of them in the new National History Museum.

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Teatre-Auditori Sant Cugat

With an intense, diverse and top-quality programme, this theatre in Sant Cugat has become a benchmark among Barcelona’s satellite towns over its two decades of existence. Designed by two Ramons – architects Artigues and Sanabria – the theatre-auditorium is a multipurpose space with capacity for 800 spectators. Every year some 100,000 enjoy theatre, music, opera, dance, family shows, magic and operetta here, as well as films, lectures, workshops and much more.

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Museu del Monestir (Museu de Sant Cugat)

The building is hardly recent – it’s a Benedictine monastery dating from the 9th century – but the contents are new: the Monastery Museum is the emblematic central exhibiting space of the Museum of Sant Cugat, which was created in 2003, the other being the Contemporary Tapestry Museum in Casa Aymat. Apart from the cloister and the church, the museum harbours an installation on the abbey itself, on Romanesque monasteries and medieval monks, as well as temporary exhibitions on art and local issues, and workshops. Guided and dramatised tours are also offered.

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