The route starts in Girona, a monumental city with a rich cultural and artistic legacy, and well endowed with museums. Particularly noteworthy in the Modernist aspect is the work of the architect Rafael Masó, who designed very valuable buildings, examples being the houses Casa Teixidor and Casa de la Punxa, the flour mill Farinera Teixidor, and the houses Casa Batlle, Casa Ensesa, Casa Gispert Saüch and Casa Masó.
Follow the course of the river Ter along the N-141 towards Bescanó. Standing beside that road is the Comtes de Berenguer hydroelectric power station, a Modernist project designed in 1916 by Joan Roca i Pinet. Then head for the town of Anglès to see another building in the same style: Casa Cendra, which was remodelled by Rafael Masó.
Carrying on along the way:
In Anglès take the GI-542, a very beautiful road that crosses the Guilleries mountains and plunges into the La Selva county. It takes you to Sant Hilari Sacalm, a spa town and resort featuring notable Modernist buildings such as the Font Picant Spa and the old cooperative building. Seven kilometres away stands the Villavecchia Castle, which was the work of Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia.
Carry on as far as the Eix Transversal (C-25) and head for Santa Coloma de Farners, which also has a long history as a spa town. From there take the C-63 road to get to Sils; go through that town and on to the N-II, following that road until you get to the crossroads with the GI-674, which will take you to Caldes de Malavella.
Of all the towns and villages in the county of La Selva, Caldes de Malavella is the one in which the greatest Modernist legacy is to be found. An outstanding thermal-waters culture developed there over a period straddling the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. The spa facilities in the area attracted the Catalan bourgeoisie, who built numerous summer houses there in the style of the time.
The result is a score of buildings such as the Vichy Catalan and Prats spas, and the houses Casa de les Punxes, Casa Rosa, Casa Estapé and Casa Mas i Ros, among others.
Leaving Caldes de Malavella, go back to the N-II or take the AP-7 and head on to Figueres, which is about 60 kilometres away.
The town of Figueres has a good collection of cultural and museum attractions that are well worth visiting – and not just the Dalí Museum, which is the most valuable example. In the late nineteenth century, the prosperity of the town led certain well-to-do families to set about building various Modernist buildings. Prominent among them are the houses Casa Puig Soler, Casa Mas-Roger, Casa Salleras and Casa Roda, along with Sala Edison (which was the first cinema in the province of Girona), the El Jardí Cinema-Theatre, the Casino Menestral and the former municipal slaughterhouse. Among those responsible for these buildings were architects such as Josep Azemar, Josep Martí, Sebastià Pi, Josep Bori and Llorenç Ros.
Then take the N-260 to Besalú and make your way along to Olot.
Olot is the capital of one of the most characterful counties in the region. It lies in the Natural Park of the Garrotxa Volcanic Area, which is a large protected area boasting outstanding beauty and natural value, and taking in 11 towns and villages, 26 natural reserves, and more than 40 volcanoes.
Various Modernist and Noucentista buildings stand out inside the town itself, including the houses Casa Solà-Morales, Casa Gaietà-Vila and Casa Gassiot. And while you’re there it’s also worth visiting the religious buildings, such as the churches Sant Esteve and Mare de Déu del Tura and the Renaissance cloisters in the Convent del Carme; and then there are museums such as the Garrotxa County Museum, the Volcano Museum and Casa Trincheria, the latter being a fine house from the eighteenth century, now open for visits.
From Olot, take the C-26 until you come to the C-38, which goes to Camprodon, and then take the C-26 to get to Ripoll.
The industrial development of Ripoll and the emergence of Camprodon as a tourist destination led to Modernisme putting down strong roots in those two towns.
Casa Bonada in Ripoll.
Some well-off families from Barcelona had houses in Camprodon
, particularly on the boulevard Passeig de Maristany
. Highlights among those buildings are Can Oliveda, Can Torrent, the Casal, Can Winkle, Can Conde, Can Cabot, Can Mas de Xeixàs, Can Guasch
and Can Maristany
. Camprodon also has a museum devoted to the musician Isaac Albéniz, and the town serves as an excellent starting-point for trips around the valley.
The town of Ripoll, which grew up around the Romanesque monastery and the medieval centre, also has a good collection of Modernist buildings, such as Can Bonada, Sant Miquel de la Roqueta, Can Codina, the Casa Dou and Casa Alòs.
Observations and recommendations:
To make the most of all that this route has to offer, it’s best to approach it in stages: reserve accommodation along the way, and then you can visit the main places of interest without having to hurry.