The Lleida Pyrenees
The Lleida Pyrenees have 10 downhill and cross-country ski resorts distributed between the regions of the Alta Ribagorça, Pallars Sobirà, Alt Urgell, Solsonès and Cerdanya. The downhill skiing resorts include Boí Taüll Resort, Port del Comte and the Ski Pallars area formed by Espot Esquí, Port Aine and Tavascan, which also has an important cross-country skiing circuit. You can go cross-country skiing at the Aransa, Bosc Virós, Lles, Sant Joan de l’Erm and Tuixent resorts.
The great attraction of the Lleida Pyrenees is that they offer a wide variety of slopes for all levels with lots of kilometres for non-stop skiing in family-oriented and competition resorts.
The Alta Ribagorça
The Alta Ribagorça is situated in the northwest corner of the Catalan Pyrenees. Since 1988 it has been an administrative region as formerly it was part of Pallars Jussà. It became independent because its inhabitants felt that they had their own unique identity in the Ribagorça region. It is the smallest region (426.8 km2) and the least populated in Catalonia, and exudes an exceptional sensation of freedom.
The region is divided into three municipalities: Vilaller, Vall de Boí and Pont de Suert which is the region’s capital. Boí Taüll Resort is located in the municipality of Vall de Boi, an area noted for its cultural heritage in Romanesque art, National Park and outdoor activities like skiing or hiking.
There are eight Romanesque churches in the Boi Valley, which were built during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In 2000 UNESCO declared them to be World Heritage Sites. They are an exceptional ensemble: Sant Climent and Santa Maria de Taüll, Sant Joan de Boí, Santa Eulàlia de Erill la Vall, Sant Feliu de Barruera, Nativitat and Sant Quiric de Durro, Santa Maria de Cardet and Assumpció de Coll. Inside them you can find murals, carvings and altar frontals that filled them with images to spread the spiritual values of medieval society. Vall de Boí’s Romanesque Centre opens the churches to the public and offers guided tours.
Aigüestortes National Park and Estany de Sant Maurici lake are excellent examples of the features of the Catalan mountains. They include peaks over 3,000 metres high, rivers, gorges and waterfalls that provide the country’s water, together with a variety of animal species and plants that exist in a harsh physical environment and give life to this unique nature reserve in southern Europe.
The Pallars Sobirà
The Pallars Sobirà is a high mountain region that stretches along the Noguera Pallaresa River. It is the fourth largest region of Catalonia and has one of the lowest population densities in the country.
It is a territory characterised by outdoor activities in the mountains. During the winter, the Port Ainé, Espot Esquí and Tavascan ski resorts are filled with snow sports enthusiasts. However, the Pallars Sobirà is a region with activities on 365 days a year. In the seasons in which there is no snow, the Noguera Pallaresa River becomes a venue for thrills and excitement. With rafting at the top of the list, you can also do a long list of other sports such as canoeing, canyoning and kayaking.
Nature and the Pallars Sobirà are inseparable. The region is a source of natural wealth and its main attraction is the Pica d’Estats, the highest peak in Catalonia (3,143 metres). The region also contains the largest lake in the Pyrenees, Certascan, and many other gifts of nature: Aigüestortes National Park, Estany Sant Maurici, the Alt Pirineu Natural Park and the Noguera Pallaresa – Collegats Nature Reserve.
History and culture are very much present throughout the territory. Picturesque villages, deserted castles and watchtowers are just some examples of the history of a region that shows through its cultural sites how life has been lived over the years.
Chapels and bridges are living examples of Romanesque art. Awareness of their importance is growing and as a result murals, carvings and other items are gradually being restored.
You cannot visit Pallars Sobirà without trying its food. The mountains and self-sufficiency have conditioned the local cuisine, so that its typical dishes include lamb, cheese, rabbit, mushrooms, black cabbage, quince and Cardós pears.
Alt Urgell is in the Pyrenees in the province of Lleida. It is the second largest region of Catalonia and one of the least populated. Its capital, la Seu d’Urgell, is the largest town in the region and its location is strategic as it provides access to the natural communication routes in the Pyrenees.
Traditionally, Alt Urgell has been an agriculture and livestock region. However, over the years it has evolved and today metal and electrical equipment account for 50% of the region’s industry. Another important sector is the food industry, especially the manufacture of dairy products, and Alt Urgell is one of the leading milk producers in Catalonia. Retail, restaurants, accommodation, transport and communications account for the majority of employment.
Doing sports is very common in the region. At the hallmark Segre Olympic Park facility you can do calm water or whitewater canoeing and rafting. Winter sports also have their place in the region. The Sant Joan de l’Erm and Tuixent-La Vansa cross-country ski resorts offer many kilometres for Nordic skiing or snowshoeing excursions.
Alt Urgell has a rich cultural heritage. The Regional Council has created the Ethnographic Route, which includes the Coll dels Nargó Raiers (Rafters) Museum and the Tuixent Trementinaires Museum about women who would travel around selling herbal and other remedies. The essence of its vast heritage is concentrated in the Romanesque cathedral of Santa Maria de la Seu.
Solsonès is a Pyrenean foothills region of central Catalonia which combines crop fields with large forest tracts, rivers and mountain scenery. It contains the sources of the Cardener and Ribera Salada rivers in the far north and the Segarra plateau in the south. The northern third of the region is part of the Pyrenees, with altitudes ranging between 1,000 m and 2,300 m. The Port del Comte massif and the Serra d’Odèn, Serra del Verd and Serra de Busa are the main mountain ranges of Solsonès.
It is a region which mostly has a continental Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cold winters. However, in its most northerly part which is highest above sea level there is a mountain climate which encourages visitors to do all kinds of sports; in summer, hiking, biking and kayaking are some of the options, while in winter, the Port del Comte ski resort offers skiing for all levels.
Solsonès is far away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, and features nature spots of great beauty with abundant woodland. It is a very pleasant area for hiking and enjoying the peace and quiet.
Craft industry is widespread in Solsonès as it is part of the area’s identity. It has a strong link with the pre-industrial Pyrenean culture that takes full advantage of natural resources. Each year there are food fairs because it is a region where many products are made from the good raw materials drawn from the mountains. In particular there are cold meats, like longaniza and fuet, white and black blood sausage, trumfos (a potato from the high part of Solsonès which is excellent for cooking) and mushrooms.
Cerdanya is a region located in the Catalan Pyrenees at the source of the River Segre. This is an historical territory of Catalonia which was divided up by France and Spain in the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 into the Alta Cerdanya, known locally as Northern Catalonia, and the Baixa Cerdanya, which lies halfway between Girona and Lleida.
The main driving force in Cerdanya is its tourism, which generates business in sectors such as retail, accommodation and food services, winter sports and outdoor activities. The latter include mountain biking, golf, horse riding, fishing and climbing. However, winter sports are the main attraction and its two downhill skiing resorts at La Molina and Masella and three cross-country ski resorts at Aransa, Lles and Guils Fontanera make it into an ideal place for doing them. Just two hours from Barcelona, Cerdanya offers 135 km of downhill skiing and 113 km of Nordic skiing.
It is one of the widest valleys in Europe, with a minimum altitude of around 1,000 m and running from east to west. The southern mountain formations include the Sierra del Cadi, the Sierra del Moixeró and other massifs such as Tosa de Alp (the highest point of the La Molina + Masella skiable area) and Puigllançada.
In the municipalities of Cerdanya you can visit various local markets. Village squares across the region are filled on a daily basis by people buying local produce. During the weekend Alp and Llívia are most popular on Saturdays, and the region’s capital Puigcerdà is on Sundays. In terms of food Cerdanya offers highly rated local specialities such as trinxat, handmade yoghurt and cold meats like el pa de fetge.