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Lleida is a world of options that open one step away from Barcelona. Terres de Lleida is the proof that you don’t have to take a plane from Barcelona to make an unforgettable trip.
Images Matías Callone
It is worth clarifying that Lleida is not a destination that does not receive tourists, far from it. But it can be said that this is a destination underestimated or even minimized by the fame of other more widespread attractions also close to Barcelona as could be the Costa Brava.
Why should you seriously think about exploring the province of Lleida?
Because it is to enter a territory of nature, of mountains that rise to display the charm of the Pyrenees, but also of stories and sites of enormous heritage value. It is the opportunity to find some of the most beautiful villages in Catalonia, and some of them, which are even little known. There are jewels like small walled cities that seem ready to be scenography of some new medieval cinematographic production. There are corners of imposing architecture that go back centuries, waiting to be declared a World Heritage Site (such as the cathedral of Lleida).
In short, it is quite probable that if we are not from the region, everything you can find following a route through the province of Lleida will be a huge surprise.
What exactly does the territory of Terres de Lleida cover?
Especially to explore this region we should be located in the southern part of the province (not including the Pyrenees). The central thing would be to explore regions like Segrià, Noguera, Urgell, Segarra, Garrigues, and Pla dÚrgell, in the plain of the middle Ebro.
How to get to Lleida.
A good way to start exploring the province is to reach its capital, Lleida. The capital of the province is two hours by car from Barcelona (173 kilometres on the AP-2). By train: Lleida is connected by AVE (high speed) with Barcelona and Zaragoza. It also has an airport (Lleida-Alguaire) and, of course, a good road network that connects Lleida with the main tourist attractions, regions and landscapes.
Start with the capital (Lleida).
Lleida is an important city, both for its role as provincial capital, but above all for being the heart of an economic area that encompasses 500,000 inhabitants. In addition, Lleida is a city with a long and rich history, visible through some of its main attractions and architectural monuments. Lleida was already the site of an Iberian settlement, later a settlement of the Romans, or a site dominated by Muslims from the beginning of the eighth century until 1149. Lleida is also the city where the first university of the current Catalonia is founded, and the first of the old crown of Aragon. From my time in the city, I have above all a good record (and memory) of La Seu Vella, its old cathedral).
The cathedral (La Seu Vella). It’s the old cathedral of Lleida, and is disaffected as a religious building since the early eighteenth century, when Philip V conquers the city to see in this immense cathedral a strategic site to be used for defensive purposes and as a military barracks. It is very curious to know that this imposing building with its enormous architectural and even artistic value was relegated to be a simple military barracks. In a constant process of revaluation, this monumental complex surprises visitors (including myself) while waiting to be recognized as a World Heritage Site. In the blog I dedicate a complete post with photos and details of La Seu Vella to appreciate the value of this monumental religious complex.
Follow an idea of route by Terres de Lleida.
If the idea is to start our tour in the capital, what follows is to leave from there to explore the routes and secondary roads. In the blog I made a post with the itinerary (ideal to do in three to four days) to continue several days exploring by road (based on the journey I made through the lands of LLeida). This tour goes through villages and corners for charm of Lleida (departing from its capital) (*). Among other places, you can visit a fortified village such as Montfalcó Murallat, another incredible medieval village adapted to the slope of a hill (Guimerá), and another beautiful village called Montsonís with an inhabited castle open to visitors. In total there will be 238 kilometers to travel, crossing mountain landscapes, approaching the Congost de Mont-rebei, or reach cities like Salás del Pallars, where you can visit a curious museum of shops and products that trigger nostalgia. Here you can see all the details of the route and photos:
Here is a selection of photos of the route I took through Lleida:
What else to see in Terres de Lleida.
Beyond my route, I’m going to mention a lot of options that I’m excited to know and that I find as information on official websites of Catalonia with recommendations. The detail of my route is an introduction but everything that I am going to mention later I will write it down for future trips. For example, in the city of Lleida you can also visit the Templar Castle of Gardeny or the Natural Area of Tossals deÁlmatret. And so in each of the counties of Terres de Lleida there is more to add. For example, in Les Garrigues there are cave paintings of the Cogul, in La Segarra there are curious places like the Jewish quarter of Torà…
More theme route ideas. There are several thematic routes already diagrammed. by castles as the Route of the Castells, crossing Christian fortresses that bordered with territory controlled by the Muslims, routes of castles even more specific as the route of the Castles of the Sió, the Route of the Romanesque, the Route of the Wine, the Route of the Cister. There is also a tourist route by train (Tren dels Llacs) that connects the capital with the pre-Pyrenees.
More beautiful villages in Lleida. Another point that if you follow me in my travels you will notice that I always deepen (that I count at the moment in my Instagram and then in the blog with all the advice) is to explore charming villages. In the route that I mention previously you will find some of the towns that I was able to visit in my four days exploring Terres de Lleida. In addition to villages that are authentic beauties of medieval aspect as Guimerá, or villages as beautiful as Montsonís, there are many more to see: Rocallaura, Os de Ballaguer, Ribelles, Ciutadilla, are many places that invite to stop on the way.
And even more, not to mention if we extend the route to the Pyrenees of Lleida. Explore the Vall de Boí, and get to know Durro or Taüll. Reach Alt Urgell and visit Arsèguel, or continue along Vall d’Aran and reach Arties. Any one of them and so many more will never let down the miles of road done (and in my case they are a great incentive to plan future trips).
The Pyrenees of Lleida. Beyond Terres de Lleida, which would be the southernmost part of the province, when we approach the Pyrenees, the landscape changes considerably. It is a territory of valleys, small villages and also a lot of heritage to know in regions such as El Solsonès, El Pallars Jussá, L’Alt Urgell, La Cerdanya, El Pallars Sobirà, L’Alta Ribagorza, La Val d’Aran. In my case, I only mention them because they are all regions and destinations that are among my pending.
(*) The visit to Lleida and the route was diagrammed within the framework of a trip through charming villages in the province of Lleida organised by the Catalan Tourist Board in collaboration with Turisme de Lleida/Ara Lleida.
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