Two Atmospheric Medieval Villages (Barcelona)
While spending a few days relaxing in the tranquil setting of the Parador Vic-Sau, we were able to explore some of the surrounding countryside and came across the charming and virtually isolated stone village of Tavertet. This small retreat at the end of the road is filled with weekend homes in the mountains north of the Sau reservoir, and offers spectacular views of the Pantà de Sauand the Parador.
During a recent excursion through Catalunya during the Christmas season, we were fortunate to have the time to take a tour of several pueblos con encanto, charming villages dating from the Middle Ages, all beautifully well-preserved. From our base at the Parador overlooking the Sau reservoir outside of Vic, we took a day trip to the tiny mountain village of Tavertet and the slightly larger village of Rupit. These are two of the most photographed and picturesque hilltop villages in the province of Barcelona, reminiscent of the Luberon hill towns of Provence, but less manicured, far more rustic and happily, minus the hordes of tourist so common in many historic villages in other parts of Spain.
This small stone village of 140 inhabitants can be found well off the normal tourist path at the end of a 13-kilometer long, narrow, winding road running through the forest and among the craggy limestone outcroppings, nestled atop a 200 meter high massif. This is a detour well worth the trouble – to discover a hidden village of remarkable beauty, tranquility and with breathtaking views over the Vall de Sau-Collsacabra, the Sau Valley, and the Guilleries nature park. The village is so well preserved that everything looks brand new. Although the majority of the homes date from the 17th and 18th centuries, the newer dwellings, get-a-way homes for the wealthy denizens of Barcelona, have been built following the traditional style using native stone and slate so as to blend perfectly with the ancient houses. This immaculately kept town, with only 40 full time residents, consists of two main streets, a Romanesque church, a rebost (village store, bar and local hangout), one gastronomic restaurant, Faves Comptades, a few traditional inns to feed the weekend day-trippers, one cute casa rural, El Quintà, and a few cottages to rent. Following the path from the church leading away from the town, you’ll come to a magnificent but dizzying viewpoint at the edge of the rocky cliffs of Tavertet, with indescribable views across the valley to the Sau reservoir. This hamlet is very worthy of your discovery.
Equally as pretty, Rupit, with its 340 inhabitants, has been discovered. Known as one of the most beautiful villages in all of Catalunya, it remains remarkably unspoiled by its popularity. After driving the meandering road from Vic, through rugged grazing lands, you will finally reach the one km detour to the village, but must leave your car in the parking lot in the “new” town and cross the small stream to the medieval side. Entrance to the village is via a suspension footbridge across the brook that divides this historic medieval village. With its ruggedly steep streets, ancient stone houses, some dating from the 16th-century, all with hanging balconies bedecked with geraniums and dried flowers at each door, Rupit is as photogenic as they come. This makes for a fine stop for lunch, as the friendly Hostal Estrella on the main square in the old section of the village serves a rich and hearty mountain cuisine at very reasonable prices.
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