Charming villas on the coast and in the cities of Catalonia
In the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Mediterranean side, and occupying a relatively small area of 32,000 square kilometres, lies Catalonia, one of Spain’s most fascinating and diverse regions.
Geographically and culturally, the beauty of Catalonia is so unique. It has a vast variety of landscapes ranging from rocky coastlines to long flat beaches, from mountains to plains, and from marshlands to forest. It has great cosmopolitan cities such as the amazing Barcelona with its fantastic art nouveau buildings, or the historical Girona and its great old Jewish quarter. It has small medieval mountain villages sitting at the foot of the Pyrenees and elegant coastal resorts in the sandy shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Catalonia has a distinct regional identity that borrows little form the rest of Spain. Catalans have their own language, and are intensely proud of their unique art, cuisine, folklore and long history. Ask the Catalans themselves and many will tell you that Catalonia is not a region but a nation. Not surprisingly, rivalry between the Catalans and the rest of Spain is an ongoing part of this country’s history.
Catalonia is home of great artistic achievements, ranging from grand Greek and Roman monuments, or exquisitely simple Romanesque works, to some of the most exciting art of the twentieth century such as the great Gaudí's avant garde buildings, the surrealism of the painters Salvador Dalí or Miró, or the cubism of Picasso, all of whom spent their formative years in Catalonia.
Catalans pride themselves on good eating too, and you will find some of Spain's finest restaurants here. Catalan food is typically Mediterranean, featuring olive oil as its staple component. As the region is so geographically diverse, it provides a variety of fresh high quality meat, poultry, game, seafood, fruit and vegetables and a great variety of wild mushrooms.
Fine red and white wines are produced here, and Catalan sparkling wines (cavas) are favourite celebratory wines around the world.
Catalonia's calendar is rich all year round in festivities, which provide a colourful display of traditional activities, dances and parades. Most towns celebrate a Festa Major (main festival) once a year. Distinctive features include fireworks, and giants, dwarfs and other figures of Catalan folklore who dance and pirouette to the sound of pipes and flutes. No Festa is complete without a Sardana, considered Catalunya's national dance. Castells (or human towers) are another traditional feature. Teams compete to build pyramids of different heights, with men climbing up on each other’s shoulders, and a plucky child climbs to the very top. Competitions of castells generate immense excitement among the crowd.
Finally Catalonia offers a wide range of activities to suit all ages and levels of fitness: Skiing (in winter), swimming, horse back riding, cycling, hiking, golfing, … there are endless possibilities.
All in all Catalonia offers no end of opportunities for day trips and adventures, that together with its excellent communications, makes of Catalonia a top-class tourist destination in Europe.