A good spot for resting
After completing my quick but dense pass through Barcelona, I have now moved on to my first new city in Catalunya. Llança is officially the first city outside of Barcelona in Catalunya that I have visited. The culture and language of Catalunya is very interesting to me and I look forward to seeing the different dynamics of it as I pass through the different areas of the state. I have begun to hear more Catalán spoken, which is nice for me as I get to learn new words in their language. If you have any desire to learn Catalán, then I’d definitely recommend getting out of the big cities.
Arriving relatively early, in Llança, which is only about two hours outside of Barcelona, I found myself quickly at my new Alberg. For the next two nights I will stay at Alberg Costa Brava, which is conveniently located directly on the side of the railroad tracks. Therefore, no adventure or difficulties in finding your way. Alberg Costa Brava is only a short distance from the ocean with nature all around it. It is very tranquil, and a good spot for resting.
Immediately upon arrival in Llança, I was greeted with open arms from the Alberg staff. I then set off to explore the local monastery called San Pere de Rodes. The construction of San Pere de Rodes began during the 11th century and they project was completed in the 12th century. Although the time period of the construction is relatively well-known, the origin of it is still somewhat mysterious. For example, the modern construction that we see was constructed during the 11th-12th centuries, but records of the monastery’s existence date back hundreds of years before. It was established as a Benedictine Monastery and ordered by Pope Boniface IV to be constructed.
The general style of the monastery is said to be Romanesque, but those who inspect more carefully will find a host of other influences. Namely several carved sculptures designed and created by hand from an architect from Lombardy, Italia. Outside of this, there are several places within the monasteries grounds where the construction appears to be much older than the 11th-12th century work. The monastery began its decline in the middle centuries until it was ultimately abandoned in the 17th century when it was left open to thieves and archaeologists who removed some of its relics and pieces. In more recent times, the monastery has become an increasingly popular destination for pilgrims, either completing the Camino or just for personal reflection.
The monastery is complete with a defense tower and church as well as living and dining quarters for the roughly sixteen monks who called the monastery home. The defense tower was essential to defend against invading pirates, which frequented the region for a large time period. Pirates would come and sack the cities, then leave returning at another time. They rarely killed the people of the towns unless they were met by resistance because if they did, then they would have no one to steal from the next time that they returned. Monks would retreat by climbing into the defense tower and retract the ladders so that they could not be followed. If defense were necessary, then they would typically throw pieces of heavily splintered plants, such as a cactus, laced in human feces or something that they could burn. Contrary to what is commonly taught or seen in movies, they would rarely use flaming oil in defense because oil was far too precious of a material to waste in large quantity.
Those seeking to see a little more may be interested in walking to Santa Creu de Rodes, which is only a short distance from the San Pere de Rodes Monastery. Santa Creu de Rodes is a medieval city left in remains, but still standing in some ways. The church area and defense tower are both in decent condition while you have to picture other areas in your mind such as the living quarters and market area. The market area is the large open space just outside of the front door of the church. Homes were made of rock and built on top of their small barns, which housed their domesticated animals and livestock essential to living.
Hiking in Costa Brava
Both the San Pere de Rodes and Santa Creu de Rodes tell a history of their own. If you are one who likes to hike then there is a good chance that you will enjoy the hiking in Costa Brava. As you hike around these two areas you’ll enjoy amazing views of the Mediterranean town of Llança as well as surrounding ones and even the scenery of the national park which surrounds the monastery and medieval town.
There are several nice routes for anyone would like to spend a few hours trekking the mountains and if you are really ambitious you could even walk to France. Some people use Llança as a starting point for reaching Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
Costa Brava Guide
If you are looking for someone who is quite knowledgeable in the monastery and medieval town, then I would definitely recommend contacting Marcel Gutinell Maurí. He is a local Catalunyan with extensive knowledge of the surrounding nature and history. I met Marcel for lunch and he offered his time to teach me about the history of the region as well as the surrounding mountain areas. I’d recommend him for insider tips. He is a good Costa Brava guide.