Make your way out of Puigcerdà, the capital of Cerdanya county. To get a first taste of Romanesque architecture, take the GIV-4035 road until you get to Guils de Cerdanya and visit the 12th century church of Sant Esteve there. Then go back to Puigcerdà and start out on the route.
Take the N-152 road towards Alp and stop there to see the church of Sant Pere. Go back onto the N-152 and head for Toses mountain pass (Collada de Toses), a typical mountain road that is usually affected by snow in winter.
Carrying on along the route:
Keep going along the road until you get to the town of Toses, which is towards the end of the mountain pass. It passes by Fornells, Dòrria and Nevà, and the municipal district of Planoles, with nearby Planès hamlet. There are Romanesque churches in all of them, such as the churches Sant Martí in Fornells, Sant Víctor in Dòrria, Sant Cristòfol in Nevà, Sant Cristòfol in Toses, Sant Marcel in Planès and Sant Vicenç in Planoles. Most of them are usually kept closed, and you have to ask for the key first to see inside. If you would like to visit them, call the town’s Tourist Office or the Council beforehand.
To get back on the main tour route, take the N-152 to Ribes de Freser. From there you can explore Ribes Valley, where there are interesting Romanesque churches in the towns Campelles, Queralbs, Pardines and Fustanyà.
Drive on to Ripoll, a town of great significance in the history of Catalonia. The town is well worth a visit, and the monastery of Santa Maria – one of the finest examples of the Romanesque style in Catalonia – is a stop-off on your tour. The monastery portal, sculpted in stone, is an outstanding work in Europe’s Romanesque architecture.
Carry on with the tour by driving along the C-26 towards Sant Joan de les Abadesses. That town is a rare example of medieval town planning, and still features several buildings of interest, such as the Old Bridge, the Abbey Palace and the monastery of Sant Joan. Stop off to see the Sacred Mystery sculptural group, a unique example of thirteenth-century sculpture and the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic.
Carry on down the C-26 and then take the C-38 to enter Camprodon Valley, another very beautiful spot for hiking, or snow pursuits in winter. From there you have the option of taking a little Romanesque tour around the valley, going by way of villages such as Setcases, Tregurà, Vilallonga, Abella and La Roca.
Go as far as Camprodon and visit the Romanesque New Bridge (Pont Nou), which is the most striking feature of the town, the church of Santa Maria and the monastery of Sant Pere which stands out on account of its curious octagonal dome and the width of its nave.
Turn off the main route for a while to take the GIV-5264 and visit Llanars. This village features the church of Sant Pere, a magnificent twelfth-century example of Romanesque architecture.
Make your way back to Camprodon and take the C-38 to Molló, where you will find the church of Santa Cecília (12th century). Its noteworthy features include the square four-storey bell tower and the lateral portal.
Carry on down that same road and then take the GIV-5223 to Beget. The intact medieval structure of this tiny village has earned it the status of Monumental Historic Heritage. Visit the 10th century church of Sant Cristòfol, one of the finest examples of the Romanesque style in the area, with a slim four-storey belfry standing 22 metres high. The Christ in Majesty of Beget is venerated here, a valuable 12th century polychrome wood carving of a crowned Christ in a full length tunic, considered one of the best Romanesque sculptures of its kind.
From Beget, carry on down the road towards Oix. This town boasts a past of considerable importance between the Moorish period and the 15th century, and real gems of Romanesque art are preserved there, such as the remains of the castle, the parish church of Sant Llorenç and the medieval bridge.
Carry on all the way down as far as the C-26, and go along that road towards Figueres. You will soon come to Besalú, the last stop along the way. This town shows various signs of Jewish and Christian cultures having lived together, and a great medieval centre whose individual features form a remarkable whole.
When you come down from Oix and get to the C-26, instead of heading towards Figueres, make for Olot.
There you will find Castellfollit de la Roca
and, a few kilometres further on, the road that takes you to Sant Joan les Fonts
, which is also worth a visit. Then make your way back to the C-26 and carry on with the route, heading for Besalú
Observations and recommendations:
To make the most of what this route has to offer, you can divide it into various stages. Reserve accommodation along the way so that you can visit the main places of interest without having to hurry.