When the Republican soldiers marched towards exile, someone issued the order to execute some pro-Franco prisoners who were in their custody. These included Rafael Sánchez Masas, one of the founders of the Falangist Movement. Imprisoned in the Collell shrine, they were marched out one day to the forest, where they faced a firing squad. But Sánchez Mazas fled and found shelter in the forest, where he met up with deserters from the Republican camp. The Capellans cave was one of the hiding places for fugitives from the war, together with the coalmakers’ cabin built in front of the mouth of the cave to provide shelter to all refugees who sought it. Up to 21 people, including chaplains and civilians, who for various reasons fled persecution during the war, lived there together.
You will be walking along a route that combines great historical value and the enjoyment of the region’s natural and cultural assets. The area around Sant Miquel de Campmajor is flat and placid, just right for enjoying the landscape, while the section that leads to the Roca dels Capellans is steep and rough, making it hard to reach. That’s why it was an excellent hiding place. The diversity of the landscape, with swaths of forest and fields, characterises the itinerary.
From Banyoles, take the GI-524 road to Sant Miquel de Campmajor and Santa Pau. When you reach Sant Miquel de Campmajor, turn left at the road crossing that leads to Sant Miquel (which is off to the right) and head towards Falgons along the GIV-5246 road. Before reaching Falgons, there is a forest track off to the left with a sign indicating “Can Gifre”, where you can leave your car.
The starting point is right in front of the Can Gifre property, where you will find the posts that mark the path.
Following the Route:
Climb up to the Roca dels Capellans through the shady, wooded Golany area, the highest point of which is the Puig Sesarques, which reaches an elevation of 878 metres. But you will not get to this summit, though; instead, you will arrive at the Roca dels Capellans, located below the cliffs of Puig Sesarques. As you continue on towards the plain of Sant Nicolau, the way becomes easier and you cross part of the Campmajor valley through pretty scenery back to the starting point.
This route cannot be extended. If you want to keep walking, you’re better off going to Palol de Revardit and taking the other Salamina Route (Palol de Revardit and Cornellà del Terri), a circular, 3.5-km-long route that is much easier than the one described here, which can easily be covered in 90 minutes and complements this one.
The Salamina Routes proposed by the Pla de l’Estany Regional Council are also intended to be a reflection on the Spanish Civil War. There are currently two different routes, but others will soon be opened up. Plans also call for the creation of an information centre which will gather personal testimonies of the Spanish Civil War in the Pla de l’Estany region.
To complete the tale, we recommend that you visit the Santa Maria del Collell shrine (GIP-5244 road, which departs from Sant Miquel de Campmajor). It dates from the 16th century and has served a number of uses throughout its history: shrine, seminary, Civil War prison, secondary school and, now, a sports facility.
Santa Maria del Collell sanctuary.
These three routes are based on the book Soldados de Salamina (Soldiers of Salamina), written by Javier Cercas, which tells the tale of real-life characters in the context of the Spanish Civil War in the Pla de l’Estany region. The success of the novel led well-known Spanish film director David Trueba to make a movie based on the book. The film was chosen by the Spanish Academy to represent it as a candidate to the Oscar award for Best Foreign Film.
Observations and Recommendations:
The most interesting landmark in Sant Miquel de Campmajor is its Romanesque church, which dates back to the 11th-12th centuries.
The Old Sant Miquel Bridge, a Romanesque bridge from the 13th century, can be found on the Collell road.