05 Jun 2012 0 comments Lídia Penelo

Medieval experience in Castle Montsonís

 Time travel has always been a fascination for many of us. The closest you can get to breathe and live times past without having to deal with technical prototypes is visiting the castle of the town of  Montsonís. A fortress with splendor of its pinnacle years overlooking this small and peaceful town. Its history dates back to the crudest days of the Crusades, when christians fought with all their might to conquer the city of Lleida, which ocurred in 1149. It was Ermengol II the Count of Urgell, known as ‘el Pelegrino’, who planned the construction of the Castle in order to protect the reclaimed land to the Muslims, and to ensure the Christian repopulation of the territory.

The Montsonís castle is inhabited, which is why the flag is flutters on its tower. Some of the rooms are for private use. In fact, this is the first private castle in Spain that opened doors to the public. It is also the headquarters of the Castells Culturals de Catalunya foundation, an organization that promotes activities in these ancient fortresses in order to preserve its valuable architectural and cultural heritage.

The Montsonís Castle

There are guided tours for groups every day, and on Saturdays at eight o’clock in the evening a troupe of actors dressed in twelfth century costumes performs a dramatized tour. They detail the various aspects of living in a castle during those troubled warring times. When night falls, the visit becomes even more magical because the walls are lit with torches and there is a demonstration of the old system of signaling with fire used in those days. A unified system that allowed a message to cross, in only one night, the whole Iberian peninsula, from the northest point –Cape of Creus– to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Medieval armor

Some of the most interesting spots of the visit are the dungeon with its original chains to hold and punish prisoners, the fugitive room with a window but no door, and the secret passage from the cellar to allow an escape in case of attack.

By looking at the different stones used in different times, you can keep track of the evolution of the castle. In particular of the rebuilding of the tower, destroyed during the Remences war in the fifteenth century.

A trip around the castle’s surroundings

People from Montsonís usually organize trips through the Montclar tunnel. There, visitors can continue their medieval experience, visiting the Montclar castle. One of the oldest castles in the area, and still remains a compact fortress. Like Montsonís, fly a flag on the tallest tower which indicates that it is inhabited. The great location of Montsonís also allows many other trips without having to use a car. Artesa de Segre, for instance, is almost two miles away and offers a great opportunity to taste the local gastronomy.

Another highly recommended route is a mile and a half walk to La Foradada, located under a hole in a rock. To get there you will have to cross crops, almond and olive tree fields and a landscape that seems untouched since the Middle Ages.

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