Pobles amb Encant, an initiative set up by the Catalan Tourism Agency (ACT), aims to identify villages with a special attractiveness in Catalonia. The first villages added to the list were Calella de Palafrugell and Montsonís, and the objective is to expand this list of eight until it gets to some 20 villages next year. In order to get on the list, the villages need to fulfill some conditions, such as having a maximum of 2,500 inhabitants, a clear vocation for tourism, and special architectural, urbanistic, heritage, cultural and environmental elements.
1. History and hiking in Mura
Located in the Sant Llorenç de Munt natural park, the village of Mura (Bages) offers dozens of activities for hiking lovers. One highlight is the 17th century Puig de la Balma farmhouse, the location for the award winning film, Pa Negre, a unique and historic setting where visitors can enjoy an authentic rural experience. They can also visit a museum with an extensive collection of tools and utensils used in the daily tasks and wine making of this old country house, generation after generation.
2. Calella and the sea
The coastal line of Calella de Palafrugell (Baix Empordà) is by itself a picture postcard landscape. Port Bo, the Torre de Calella and the Cap Roig castle are attractions that are top of the tourist list, along with guided visits based on Josep Pla’s work, as well as the botanical garden of Cap Roig, and the local coastal path.
3. The Montsonís castle
Montonís (Noguera) has a very well preserved 15th century castle, which has been inhabited by the same family for 30 generations, a town centre of cobbled streets, and the outstanding Romanesque church of Sant Urbà and Santa Maria de Montsonís. An old bakery, the abbey and the old town hall complete the singularity of this hamlet of Foradada.
In Baix Empordà again, the village of Peratallada stands out for its medieval architecture. Its architecture, the walls, and the castle-palace, with the base of its walls cut into stone, turn it into a unique place.
5. Castellar de n’Hug
In the county of Berguedà (Barcelona), where the Llobregat river is born, lies this little village known for its annual international sheepdog contest. Its charm comes from the visual harmony of its natural landscape and the picturesque traditional houses made of stone, Arabic tiles and wood.
In the valley of Boí, in Alta Ribagorça (Lleida), the village of Taüll is home to two Romanesque churches declared world heritage sites by UNESCO: Santa Maria and Sant Climent. Nearby, there’s the Aigüestortes national park, and the lake of Sant Maurici, along with a network of over 60 kilometres of mountain trails and itineraries for mountain lovers.
This village in Alt Camp, in the Tarragona region, also known as the Red Village due to the reddish sandstone that characterises many of its buildings, was listed as a place of Cultural Interest (BIC) in 1993, for its historical sites. The remains of its 12th-13th century castle and the Romanesque chapel of Sant Miquel, the wall with defence towers, the Renaissance fountain and the church with its apse are just a few of its main attractions. The Prades potatoes, known locally as ’trumfos’, is a product of high quality, recognised with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
8. Rupit and the Castle
Rupit i Pruit (Osona), located in the middle of mountains, rivers and woods, stands out for its 10th century castle and its medieval cobblestone streets, and the Sant Miquel church. There are daily guided tours, which can be complemented by visits to a baker’s where they make neules, a traditional local delicacy.
places to discover
Villas and villages with character
Focusing attention on the value of Catalonia’s urban heritage through its villages is the idea behind Pobles amb Encant (Villages with Charm), part of a marketing plan by the Catalan Tourism Agency, which also includes Ciutats i Viles amb Caràcter (Cities and Towns with Character), such as Lleida, Tarragona, Girona, Terrassa, Vic, Reus, Vilafranca del Penedès, Manresa and Montblanc, places combining culture, art, gastronomy, architecture and innovation, and all in all, can offer visitors unique experiences.