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Torre Viader Modernisme Cardedeu
© Albert Miró

Vallès Oriental: Modernisme in Cardedeu

The Balvey pharmacy and the summer houses are among the attractions on this getaway

By Xavier Amat
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In the Vallès Oriental region there are many towns with elegant modernista houses. Many of these buildings were commissioned by the Barcelona bourgeoisie who, in the late 19th and early 20th century, summered in the area in search of peace and rest. This getaway to Vallès Occidental focuses on Cardedeu, a town that not only boasts interesting modernista buildings but also one of the oldest rural pharmacies in Europe and a noucentista (early 20th-century Catalan cultural and movement) cemetery also worth getting to know. Shall we go?

IN COLLABORATION WITH BARCELONA ÉS MOLT MÉS AND THE DIPUTACIÓ DE BARCELONA.

Museu de Cardedeu Farmàcia Tomàs Balvey
Museu de Cardedeu Farmàcia Tomàs Balvey
© Albert Miró

Museu de Cardedeu

To delve into Modernisme and recharge your batteries, you can have breakfast at the Melindro, a bar located on the ground floor of a modernista building in Plaça de l'Església and where, as its name that means ladyfinger or sponge finger suggests, you can enjoy mouth-watering chocolate with ‘melindros’! If you are not chocolate lovers, you can of course order many other delights. In the summer, the ice-cold drink made from tiger nuts called ‘orxata’ reigns supreme.

Head to the Museu de Cardedeu, also known as the Museu Arxiu Tomàs Balvey (MATBC), as here you’ll find the Tomàs Balvey i Bas collections. The last in a family of apothecaries, Balvey (1790-1852) was an authentic fan of collecting, and thanks to this ‘addiction’ today the town has a varied and valuable museum, housed in what was the residence of Dr Daurella, near the Town Hall. The third floor of the house has a bit of everything: coins, clothes, tools, weapons, stuffed animals and some sculptures. The second floor has what is certainly the jewel in the crown, the Balvey pharmacy’s original furniture, dating back to 1812, with over 200 pots from that period. The Cardedeu pharmacy is considered, like the one in Llívia, to be one of the oldest in Europe. The first floor houses the archive, while the ground floor, where there is also a tourist office, holds temporary exhibitions and provides access to an elongated garden, full of medicinal plants.

In Cardedeu there are diverse guided cultural tours throughout the year. If you are interested modernista summer houses, we recommend that you take the onthe work of the architect Manuel Joaquim Raspall (1877-1937). In fact, you will see both modernista and noucentista buildings, as Raspall was part of a generation of architects that came after Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch and Domènech i Montaner, and much of his work tended towards a style that was substituting the previous one. Explore, among others, Casa Viader, summer residence of Marc Viader, the inventor of chocolate drink Cacaolat, or Casa Masó and Casa Golferichs. Because, as was said at the start of the last century, having a box at El Liceu opera and a summer house in Cardedeu reflected the social status of many wealthy Barcelona families. Another option is to do the tour by yourself: you can scan the QR code on the museum website or at the entrance with your mobile, and follow the route on your mobile phone.  

Cerveseria Sant Jordi Cardedeu
Cerveseria Sant Jordi Cardedeu

From cemetery to brewery

Another activity organised by MATBC is the guided tour of the Municipal Cemetery. It was built between 1919 and 1921 and designed by Raspall himself, in this case in noucentista style. It’s an excellent example of funerary architecture, and undoubtedly one of the most important cemeteries in Catalonia.

But the trip will end rather more happily by discovering the brewery where Sant Jordi artisan beer is made. The warehouse, Cal Peó, is modernista and was designed, of course, by Raspall in 1910. An example of functional architecture adapted to industrial use and where, until the late 20th century, grain, fodder and flour were sold. On the visit you’ll find out about this building, including a practical introduction to the production of artisan beer. You can also try the beers they make with some 'pa amb tomàquet’ and charcuterie. There are few other such delicious ends to a getaway!

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