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Route of the castles and fortresses in Lleida

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  • Montsonis Castle © Turespaña

    Montsonis Castle © Turespaña

  

Battlements on the horizon

In about the 10th to the 12th century, amid the cereal fields of the region of La Segarra in central Catalonia, a frontier line of castles was built between the Christian and Muslim dominions. Some time later their owners converted them into luxurious residential palaces. They have today been restored and adapted for use as homes and many are open to visitors.
 

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Spring is the ideal time to enjoy the greenery of the cereal fields that can be seen all along this route. It is well worth devoting a weekend to the trip and staying overnight in the city of Cervera, located approximately half way through the itinerary. Many of the castles on this route have been restored and offer guided tours, normally at weekends.

This is the perfect way to see all the different parts of the fortresses (kitchens, rooms, courtyards, towers, etc), and to learn more about their history.

We begin our journey in the mediaeval village of Montsonís. Its castle is inhabited, although it can be visited with a guide. We then head to Artesa de Segre where we take the road towards Agramunt. Eight kilometres further on, a detour takes us to the village of Montclar, whose castle is the oldest of those we'll see on our route (dating from 981).

We return to Agramunt and to the local road which leads to Les Pallargues. After about 20 kilometres we reach the castle-palace dating from the Gothic-Renaissance period, and built between the 14th and 15th centuries.

Our next two stops are at the neighbouring castles of Les Sitges and Florejacs. We first reach the 14th-century castle of Les Sitges, and then continue on to the mediaeval village of Florejacs with its 16th century noble home adjoining the ancient city wall. Various rooms in the castle have been converted into a museum (dungeon, cellar, halls, library…), and are open to visitors.

Once again on the road, 16 kilometres outside Florejacs, a detour leads to the village of Vicfred , the site of a magnificently restored stately castle-palace.

To round off this first day we head for Sant Guim de la Plana, to link up with the road which takes us to the castle of Castellmeià. Of particular interest are its two towers and the 13th-century Romanesque chapel. At a distance of 12 kilometres we come to the city of Cervera, where we'll spend the night. This was the site of an old university, and is known for the celebration of two of Catalonia's key events: the re-enactment of the Passion, and the summer festival of the witches coven.

Our second day on the route might begin with two short excursions starting from Cervera. First, a detour on the road to Les Oluges will take us to the fortified mediaeval village of Montfalcó Murallat. Or if we take the road towards Agramunt, about 10 kilometres away we'll see before us the castles-palaces of Montcortès de Segarra and L’Aranyó, located very close to each other.

Back again in Cervera, we rejoin the route towards Tàrrega and head for the castle-residence of Verdú, 17 kilometres away. We then continue ahead to the detour which takes us to the remains of the castle of Guimerà. This town is also the site of a popular mediaeval market which is held every year in mid-August. Also in August, Tàrrega hosts its festival of street theatre.

We then return to the road until we reach our next stop, 12 kilometres away: this is the village of Maldà, with its recently restored castle. From here we come to the last stop on our route: the village of Bellpuig, at a distance of 10 kilometres. Its castle-palace has been adapted to host a wide variety of shows and events.
 

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