Project Description

THE GEOPARC

THE GEOPARC

The Central Catalonia UNESCO Global Geopark is made up of 29 municipalities in Bages, 5 municipalities in Moianès (Moià, Calders, l’Estany, Monistrol de Calders and Santa Maria d’Oló), and the municipality of Collbató, in Baix Llobregat. In numbers, the surface area of the Geoparc is about 1,250 km2 and comprises around 190,000 inhabitants.

The orography is quite varied and is largely conditioned by differential erosion. Especially in the centre of the Geoparc, we can distinguish flat areas, more or less extensive, corresponding to the basins dug by the rivers that drain the territory (Llobregat and Cardener, the Gavarresa and Calders rivers and their main tributaries), the most important being the Pla de Bages. The other areas of the territory are characterised by the important set of elevated lands, which easily reach elevations of more than 500m. These can be presented as gently sloping plans, slightly deformed tabular relays concentrated in the southern half. On the other hand, in the northern half, tectonic deformation dominates, characterised by a succession of anticlines with a southwest and northeast tendency, such as the Castelltallat mountain range. The most characteristic model, however, is the Montserratí, which is typical of the most important relays of the territory that are Sant Llorenç del Montón and Obac and Montserrat, where there is the highest point (St. Jeroni, 1,236m), located in the south. To the northeast, there is the Moianès plateau with elevations between 600 and 700m. The crevices, some of which are very important, are very representative of the Geoparc.

Despite the growth of urban land occupation in recent decades, the Geoparc landscape has retained its traditional character and urbanisation (5% of the territory) and is still essentially compact within an extensive agricultural area (17%). The landscape of the territory is primarily forest, with forests, bushes and other vegetation representing almost 75% of the area. Non-vegetative areas make up 3%.

The bioclimate of much of the territory is considered to be low-lying continental Mediterranean. In general, summers are long and hot, springs and autumns have irregular rainfall and winters are cold and frosty. The annual rainfall is between 600 and 800 l/m2. In the south, the maritime influence softens the thermal oscillation while in the Moianès plateau, the high rainfall gives it a sub-Mediterranean climate. The establishment of towns and industries has historically been concentrated mainly on the plains and along the rivers. The service sector and industry account for 90% of economic activity, while the primary sector is only 1% at the moment.

In particular, the industrial tradition began to become important in the mid-nineteenth century when numerous textile factories were installed on the riverbanks; today they are no longer active but part of their industrial heritage and a strong imprint on the river landscape has remained. It was, however, from the development of potash mining from the first half of the 20th century that the sector took on great relevance.

El Bages is heritage in its fullest sense and widest expression. Among its contrasting landscapes of a thousand textures, architectural jewels accumulated during more than a thousand years stand out, from small hermitages to dry stone huts. Around its rivers the legacy of the industrial revolution is gathered; on its hills, the castles and towers that remind us that this was a land of wars and battles. On the plains and terraces, there are still vines and olive trees that produce excellent wines and oil with unique tastes. There’s nothing for it but to live, step and taste the 40 million years of history of the Geoparc.

The Geoparc territory has been occupied for a long time. There are Neanderthal remains at the Toll caves that confirm the presence of hominids during the Middle Paleolithic, some 50,000 years ago. From this moment on, vestiges of human settlements have also been documented during the Palaeolithic period, for example at the Montserrat caves. In the Neolithic period, the salt deposits in Cardona’s Salt Mountain began to be exploited. Later the Iberians settled in villages in Sallent (lo Cogulló) and Manresa (Puigcardener hill), among others. The Romans continued to exploit salt and introduced traditional crops such as vines. A good example is the remains of the village of Sant Amanç de Viladés in Rajadell or the Breny tower in Castellgalí.

Between the 8th and 9th centuries this was frontier land. The medieval period is that which left a more relevant, extensive and rich historical heritage. There are outstanding fortresses everywhere, castles like Cardona, Sallent, Súria, Talamanca, Rajadell, Aguilar de Segarra, etc. And defence towers like that in the centre of Coaner and Castellnou de Bages. The old centres of many towns are important tourist attractions (Old Town of Súria, Mura, Santpedor, Manresa, etc). Religious buildings are also particularly significant. The Gothic basilica of Santa Maria de la Seu in Manresa, the monastery of Sant Benet de Bages and especially the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery, a spiritual symbol and the identity of the territory and Catalonia, stand out. Some of these buildings are true Romanesque jewels, a heritage that is exceptionally well represented in the Geoparc: the unique church of Sant Cugat del Rincón and the magnificent monastery of Santa Maria de l’Estany are among the most outstanding.

From the modern age, the Sant Ignasi a Manresa cave stands out, with the church as a great exponent of Baroque art. The celebration of the fifth centenary of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in 2022, channels an important tourist offer of the capital of the Geoparc.

The contemporary age has seen battles and major events in the history of Catalonia. The textile industry established itself strongly and conditioned the future for decades until its decline in the 1960s. The heritage bequeathed by the Torres Amat family, in Sallent, stands out. As a result of this industrialisation of the Geoparc, there are fantastic examples of modernist architecture made by relevant architects such as Ignasi Mas y Morell and Josep Puig i Cadafalch in Santa Maria d’Oló, and Ignasi Oms y Ponsa and Josep Firmat in Manresa. Since 1912 moreover, the discovery of potash in Súria represented the development of a powerful mining industry that has left an important mark on the territory.

The intense human history of the territory makes the Geoparc a place with many fairs and festivals throughout the year, which reflect all the tradition accumulated by its inhabitants over millennia.

More information:

The landscapes of the Geoparc are a mosaic of contrasts and a true paradise for nature lovers. From the fertile valleys that are drawn by the meandering rivers Llobregat and its tributary, the Cardener, to the steep peaks of the natural parks of Montserrat and Sant Llorenç del Montón and the Obac, the never-ending network of signposted paths in this strategic area is an endless invitation to travel, either on foot or by bicycle. Some of the best-known routes in Catalonia cross the Geoparc among leafy areas of pine and oak trees: The Way of Saint James, the Oliba Way, the 3 Mountains Route and the Ignasià Way. For centuries, some historical paths, such as the transhumance paths, have been opened up by following the rivers or crossing the forests, pastures and vineyards.

The landscape is clearly forested, alternating with crops and urban areas. The most extensive forests are of Aleppo pines, pine trees and red pines, species that have been favoured for forest exploitation for years, much to the detriment of other types of forest such as oak and holm oak, although they are also present. In the 1980s and 1990s, forest fires burned large areas of pine trees and encouraged the growth of rosemary shoots. In addition to forests and shoots there are other plant communities with particularly diverse vegetation, such as shrubs, meadows and wetlands. Of the latter, the main ones are the wetlands of La Bòbila and La Corbatera, which are areas of great biodiversity. In areas where chalk and salts emerge, vegetation adapted to these soil conditions can be observed. On the banks of rivers and streams, important riverside forests can be developed where species such as poplar, ash, white willow and vernacular predominate.

The crops are mainly rainfed, with grains such as oats, wheat and barley, but also almonds and mainly olive trees. Vines are also a traditional crop that were introduced by the Romans. In the second half of the 19th century it reached its peak, when even the mountain slopes were occupied to plant it in dry stone terraces. The emergence of the phylloxera slowed down the expansion and progressively its cultivation went into decline. In 1995, the Pla de Bages DO was created, which has given it new impetus.

The fauna is also diverse, although there are animals that can be found everywhere: mammals such as the wild pig and the fox. In open areas and thickets, rabbits, partridges and forest mice are common, and in the eastern mountains, the vole. In the woods, the squirrel is also representative. In the mountainous areas of Montserrat and Sant Llorenç del Montón you can also find the beech marten and the civet, and the mountain goat and the cave bat are characteristic. In the rocky environments there are also cocks-of-the-rock such as the alpine swift, the crag martin and the woodpecker. The most common birds of prey are the peregrine falcon and the Bonelli’s eagle. Other common birds are the hawk, eagle-owl, goshawk, raven and jackdaw.

The waters are not of high quality and the fish populations are typically carp, barbus and catfish In some torrents it is still possible to find the leprous pond turtle.

15% of the Geoparc’s surface area is protected within the Montserrat Mountain and Sant Llorenç del Montón and Obac Natural Parks, or in the Natura 2000 Network, PEIN, Wetlands, etc. In addition, the main elements of geological interest are part of the Inventory of Areas of Geological Interest in Catalonia made by the Government of Catalonia.

More information:

By car

  • From Barcelona: road C-55 or E-9 C-16 motorway
  • From Berga: road C-16
  • From Girona: road C-25 (Eix Transversal) or AP-7 motorway
  • From Vic: road C-25 (Eix Transversal)
  • From Lleida: road C-25 (Eix Transversal) or A-2 motorway

By train

  • RENFE (Spanish National Railway Network): www.renfe.es (Lines R4 and R12)
  • FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya): www.fgc.cat (Lines R5 and R50)

By bus

Intercity travel within the Geoparc

Maps

Territory
History
Nature
Getting here

Territory

The Central Catalonia UNESCO Global Geopark is made up of 29 municipalities in Bages, 5 municipalities in Moianès (Moià, Calders, l’Estany, Monistrol de Calders and Santa Maria d’Oló), and the municipality of Collbató, in Baix Llobregat. In numbers, the surface area of the Geoparc is about 1,250 km2 and comprises around 190,000 inhabitants.

The orography is quite varied and is largely conditioned by differential erosion. Especially in the centre of the Geoparc, we can distinguish flat areas, more or less extensive, corresponding to the basins dug by the rivers that drain the territory (Llobregat and Cardener, the Gavarresa and Calders rivers and their main tributaries), the most important being the Pla de Bages. The other areas of the territory are characterised by the important set of elevated lands, which easily reach elevations of more than 500m. These can be presented as gently sloping plans, slightly deformed tabular relays concentrated in the southern half. On the other hand, in the northern half, tectonic deformation dominates, characterised by a succession of anticlines with a southwest and northeast tendency, such as the Castelltallat mountain range. The most characteristic model, however, is the Montserratí, which is typical of the most important relays of the territory that are Sant Llorenç del Montón and Obac and Montserrat, where there is the highest point (St. Jeroni, 1,236m), located in the south. To the northeast, there is the Moianès plateau with elevations between 600 and 700m. The crevices, some of which are very important, are very representative of the Geoparc.

Despite the growth of urban land occupation in recent decades, the Geoparc landscapes have largely retained their traditional character, and urbanisation (5% of the territory) still presents an essentially compact form within an extensive agricultural space (17%). The landscape of the territory is primarily forest, with forests, bushes and other vegetation representing almost 75% of the area. Non-vegetative areas make up 3%.

The bioclimate of much of the territory is considered to be low-lying continental Mediterranean. In general, summers are long and hot, springs and autumns have irregular rainfall and winters are cold and frosty. The annual rainfall is between 600 and 800 l/m2. In the south, the maritime influence softens the thermal oscillation while in the Moianès plateau, the high rainfall gives it a sub-Mediterranean climate. The establishment of towns and industries has historically been concentrated mainly on the plains and along the rivers. The service sector and industry account for 90% of economic activity, while the primary sector is only 1% at the moment.

In particular, the industrial tradition began to become important in the mid-nineteenth century when numerous textile factories were installed on the riverbanks; today they are no longer active but part of their industrial heritage and a strong imprint on the river landscape has remained. It was, however, from the development of potash mining from the first half of the 20th century that the sector took on great relevance.

Side photo: Mura. | Òscar Rodbag | Cover: Castellbell i el Vilar: Gerard Franquesa

History

El Bages is heritage in its fullest sense and widest expression. Among its contrasting landscapes of a thousand textures, architectural jewels accumulated during more than a thousand years stand out, from small hermitages to dry stone huts. Around its rivers the legacy of the industrial revolution is gathered; on its hills, the castles and towers that remind us that this was a land of wars and battles. On the plains and terraces, there are still vines and olive trees that produce excellent wines and oil with unique tastes. There’s nothing for it but to live, step and taste the 40 million years of history of the Geoparc.

The Geoparc territory has been occupied for a long time. There are Neanderthal remains at the Toll caves that confirm the presence of hominids during the Middle Paleolithic, some 50,000 years ago. From this moment on, vestiges of human settlements have also been documented during the Palaeolithic period, for example at the Montserrat caves. In the Neolithic period, the salt deposits in Cardona’s Salt Mountain began to be exploited. Later the Iberians settled in villages in Sallent (lo Cogulló) and Manresa (Puigcardener hill), among others. The Romans continued to exploit salt and introduced traditional crops such as vines. A good example is the remains of the village of Sant Amanç de Viladés in Rajadell or the Breny tower in Castellgalí.

Between the 8th and 9th centuries this was frontier land. The medieval period is that which left a more relevant, extensive and rich historical heritage. There are outstanding fortresses everywhere, castles like Cardona, Sallent, Súria, Talamanca, Rajadell, Aguilar de Segarra, etc. And defence towers like that in the centre of Coaner and Castellnou de Bages. The old centres of many towns are important tourist attractions (Old Town of Súria, Mura, Santpedor, Manresa, etc.). Religious buildings are also particularly significant. The Gothic basilica of Santa Maria de la Seu in Manresa, the monastery of Sant Benet de Bages and especially the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery, a spiritual symbol and the identity of the territory and Catalonia, stand out. Some of these buildings are true Romanesque jewels, a heritage that is exceptionally well represented in the Geoparc: the unique church of Sant Cugat del Rincón and the magnificent monastery of Santa Maria de l’Estany are among the most outstanding.

From the modern age, the Sant Ignasi a Manresa cave stands out, with the church as a great exponent of Baroque art. The celebration of the fifth centenary of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in 2022, channels an important tourist offer of the capital of the Geoparc.

The contemporary age has seen battles and major events in the history of Catalonia. The textile industry established itself strongly and conditioned the future for decades until its decline in the 1960s. The heritage bequeathed by the Torres Amat family, in Sallent, stands out. As a result of this industrialisation, there are fantastic examples of modernist architecture in the Geoparc by relevant architects such as Ignasi Mas y Morell and Josep Puig i Cadafalch in Santa Maria d’Oló, and Ignasi Oms y Ponsa and Josep Firmat in Manresa. Since 1912 moreover, the discovery of potash in Súria represented the development of a powerful mining industry that has left an important mark on the territory.

The intense human history of the territory makes the Geoparc a place with many fairs and festivals throughout the year, which reflect all the tradition accumulated by its inhabitants over millennia.

More information:

Side photo: Vilafresca and Can el Estruch de Navàs coasts. | Òscar Rodbag

Nature

The landscapes of the Geoparc are a mosaic of contrasts and a true paradise for nature lovers. From the fertile valleys that are drawn by the meandering rivers Llobregat and its tributary, the Cardener, to the steep peaks of the natural parks of Montserrat and Sant Llorenç del Montón and the Obac, the never-ending network of signposted paths in this strategic area is an endless invitation to travel, either on foot or by bicycle. Some of the best-known routes in Catalonia cross the Geoparc among leafy areas of pine and oak trees: the Way of Saint James, the Oliba Way, the 3 Mountains Route and the Ignasià Way. For centuries, some historical paths, such as the transhumance paths, have been opened up by following the rivers or crossing the forests, pastures and vineyards.

The landscape is clearly forested, alternating with crops and urban areas. The most extensive forests are of Aleppo pines, pine trees and red pines, species that have been favoured for forest exploitation for years, much to the detriment of other types of forest such as oak and holm oak, although they are also present. In the 1980s and 1990s, forest fires burned large areas of pine trees and encouraged the growth of rosemary shoots. In addition to forests and shoots there are other plant communities with particularly diverse vegetation, such as shrubs, meadows and wetlands. Of the latter, the main ones are the wetlands of La Bòbila and La Corbatera, which are areas of great biodiversity. In areas where chalk and salts emerge, vegetation adapted to these soil conditions can be observed. On the banks of rivers and streams, important riverside forests can be developed where species such as poplar, ash, white willow and vernacular predominate.

The crops are mainly rainfed, with grains such as oats, wheat and barley, but also almonds and mainly olive trees. Vines are also a traditional crop that were introduced by the Romans. In the second half of the 19th century it reached its peak, when even the mountain slopes were occupied to plant it in dry stone terraces. The emergence of the phylloxera slowed down the expansion and progressively its cultivation went into decline. In 1995, the Pla de Bages DO was created, which has given it new impetus.

The fauna is also diverse, although there are animals that can be found everywhere: mammals such as the wild pig and the fox. In open areas and thickets, rabbits, partridges and forest mice are common, and in the eastern mountains, the vole. In the woods, the squirrel is also representative. In the mountainous areas of Montserrat and Sant Llorenç del Montón you can also find the beech marten and the civet, and the mountain goat and the cave bat are characteristic. In the rocky environments there are also cocks-of-the-rock such as the alpine swift, the crag martin and the woodpecker. The most common birds of prey are the peregrine falcon and the Bonelli’s eagle. Other common birds are the hawk, eagle-owl, goshawk, raven and jackdaw.

The waters are not of high quality and the fish populations are typically carp, barbus and catfish In some torrents it is still possible to find the leprous pond turtle.

15% of the Geoparc’s surface area is protected within the Montserrat Mountain and Sant Llorenç del Montón and Obac Natural Parks, or in the Natura 2000 Network, PEIN, Wetlands, etc. In addition, the main elements of geological interest are part of the Inventory of Areas of Geological Interest in Catalonia made by the Government of Catalonia.

More information:

Side photo: the Montcau is seen from the Navarcles road in Sant Fruitós de Bages. | Gerard Franquesa

Getting here

From Barcelona: road C-55 or E-9 C-16 motorway
From Berga: road C-16
From Girona: road C-25 (Eix Transversal) or AP-7 motorway
From Vic: road C-25 (Eix Transversal)
From Lleida: road C-25 (Eix Transversal) or A-2 motorway

RENFE (Spanish National Railway Network): www.renfe.es (Lines R4 and R12)
FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya): www.fgc.cat (Lines R5 and R50)

Monbus (from Barcelona): http://www.monbus.es/ca
Eix Bus (Girona, Vic or Lleida): http://www.teisa-bus.com/
Julià (departure location): http://www.autocaresjulia.es/es/servicios/lineas-regulares/
Sagalés (departure location): http://www.sagales.com/