A weekend break in the Priorat region
We start our first day in Falset, the county’s capital
Amongst its many charms, it also has a castle, the Castell dels Comtes de Prades as it is known in Catalan, which is located in the 12th century building which once belonged to the Counts of Prades. Nowadays it houses a museum of history of Falset and Priorat county. It is a new museum space that proposes the historical and cultural discovery of Priorat region in a pleasant, immersive and interactive way. From a careful selection of pieces, they show different aspects and moments of history covering a broad chronology: from the death in prehistory, going through the trade between Iberians and Romans, or the birth of Falset in the Middle Age until wars of modern time. The museum also has a space for temporary exhibitions to show other aspects of the history of the territory in a dynamic, specific and in-depth way.
A scenic walk through the old part of Falset
We can take a scenic walk through the old part of Falset. All sites have an explanatory panel in various languages. You will visit: Castle, the Old Town Square, the Church Square, the Palace of the Counts of Azara, the Quartera Square and the Palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli. Finally, time allowing, you will visit the cooperative winery, a Modernist building designed in 1919 by architect Cesar Martinell, a disciple of Gaudí. After the tour, visitors are offered a wine tasting.
During the walk, you will be able to buy wine and olive oil in one of the specialized establishments of the town. A great recommendation would be the "Castellets de Falset" pastries made from hazelnuts, which are very typical here in Falset.
After lunch we will go to Bellmunt
After lunch we will go to Bellmunt, less than six kilometres away. This little mining village is home to a Lead mining Museum. This metallurgical and mineral complex was once the most important in Catalonia in terms of lead-ore extraction.
We can take a guided tour of the first underground gallery that opened in the nineteenth century; see replicas of miners working and visit a modern exhibition area based around the old workshops where the ore was processed.
Carthusian Monastery of Scala Dei
Today we will visit the Cartoixa d’Escaladei (Carthusian Monastery of Scala Dei), passing through pretty villages such as La Vilella Baixa en-route, where we suggest you took a stroll through its picturesque streets and contemplate the Montsant river from the village’s majestic three-arched bridge.
Then travel onwards towards Scala Dei, nestled at the foot of the Montsant Mountain Range. Saunter around this little hamlet before continuing on to the monastery.
Just a kilometre from the village is the Cartoixa de Santa Maria (Saint Mary’s Carthusian Monastery), a must for all those who want to learn about the founding of the Priorat
This monastery was founded in 1194 by King Alfonso II of Aragon and was the first Carthusian Monastery of the Iberian Peninsula. The ruins of this impressive set of buildings are located in an enchanting place, right at the foot of the Montsant mountain range. It was an ideal place for monks seeking seclusion and contact with nature. Depending on the day of the week, you can take a guided tour. You will need about 40 minutes to visit the monastery without a guide but including the video and you will take around 1h 15m if you take the guided tour.
From here we will continue to Siurana, the last port of call on our route. We pass La Morera de Montsant, a tiny village of houses and cobbled streets, just below the imposing rocks of the Serra Major de Montsant or alternatively we take the road towards Poboleda following a road through vineyards.
Then we will head to Cornudella and then Siurana. There are twenty-two kilometres between Scala Dei and Siurana. In half an hour we will be on top of the Gritella Mountain cliffs and Siurana will be before us. This beautiful village was the last Moorish bastion of resistance in Catalonia and was regained in 1154. Dating back to that time still are the remains of the Moorish fortress at the entrance to the village. Siurana, with its cobbled streets and houses will steal your heart. The views from this vantage point are spectacular.
We can visit the Romanesque church of Santa Maria as well as the legendary Moorish Queen’s Last Leap, just below the castle walls. If you are there around sunset, take your time and stop to enjoy it as you will most certainly remember it in your mind’s eye for many years to come.
Before leaving Cornudella, and if you fancy, you can also go to the reservoir to hire a canoe or a kayak and go out for a spin.
If you still have some time left, you could continue on to Porrera and enjoy a stroll through its narrow streets looking for its famous sundials which are dotted around the village on the façades of the buildings. Some say that it is here where you can contemplate the largest sundial in the whole of Catalonia.
As usual, you will find plenty of wineries open to visitors in all the villages along the way as well as others which are not en-route. You will be able to taste delicious wines from both D.O.s or wine appellations of the region: D.O. Montsant and D.O.Q. Priorat.
Ah and don’t forget about our extra virgin olive oil, D.O.P. Siurana. Go inside one of the local olive mills to taste it and learn all about good olive oils.