North of the land of Lleida, the region of Noguera is Catalonia in its purest form. Purity of the sky, which allows perfect observation of the stars. Purity of the dam lakes, with turquoise waters. Purity of nature with wild mountains. Air, water, earth ... All that's missing is fire! You will find it in the heart of the Catalans, in love with their heritage. A passion that they know how to transmit ...
Air: Montsec, the center of observation of the universe
In the Vall d'Àger, the sky is so clear that it is one of the best spots in the world for practicing astronomy. No urban light pollution, little rain… day and night the conditions are ideal for contemplating the sun, the moon and the planets.
Le Montsec astronomical park was created in the late 2000s so that scientists and the general public could admire the sky. Adults and children can watch 3D projections in the planetarium or watch the sky live through the opening of the main dome and the many telescopes.
Permanent exhibitions explain the origins of the universe, the formation of the solar system, and more. They also present the geology, fauna and flora of Montsec which dominates the valley.
If the shooting stars are not there, you can always marvel while watching the colorful paragliders soaring from the top of the mountain. Notice to amateurs, the school is located in the village of Àger.
Water: the gorges of Mont-Rebei
Formed after the construction of the Canelles dam in the 1970s, the artificial lake displays its unreal and indefinable blue, since it changes according to the weather.
What a pleasure to glide on its calm waters, among the mountains sometimes peeled, sometimes green, with a frail kayak as a boat. It weaves its way through the coves and impressive cays, to go up the course of gorges of Mont-rebei. A fantastic parade dug by the Noguera Ribagorçana river in the middle of the Montsec massif.
From below, we can see the rocky wall cut as if to create a walkway, which is in fact frequented only by hikers. No risk of assault, therefore, even from the small metal bridge, suspended above the water between two cliffs, one in Catalonia, the other in Aragon.
The only disturbing silhouettes are those of the vultures, which graze the sheer walls. Unless it is a rare species, the bearded vulture ... It is a real chance to see their duet ballet, these funny birds living in pairs.
The land: the remains of Àger and Os de Balaguer
- limestone mountains of Montsec, culminating at 1 m and extending over 676 km in length, served, in the 40th century, as a border between Muslim and Christian territories. The Count of Urgell and his faithful lord Arnau Mir de Tost had delivered Àger from Arab domination and built a stronghold on a strategic promontory overlooking the valley.
Today, the castle and the collegiate church of Sant Pere d'Àger, altered and restored several times, are open to visitors. They discovered a heterogeneous ensemble of Lombard Romanesque style, for the fortified church, Gothic for the late 14th century cloister, or walls mixing Arab foundations and Christian stones.
20 km away, it's a much older era that awaits the curious: the cave dels Vilars, in Os de Balaguer, houses cave paintings from the Bronze Age, classified as World Heritage by Unesco. About twenty drawings represent men and women dancing or hunting deer, foxes and wolves. The land of Noguera conceals many surprises!
Prepare for your trip with our Catalonia online guide
Catalonia Tourist Office
Tourist Office of Terres de Lleida
How to get there ?
- By car :
Less than 2 hours 30 minutes from Barcelona to reach the Noguera region, by the free A-2 motorway then the C-12 road.
- By train :
About 1 hour from Barcelona to Lleida-Pirineus station where you have to change to reach Balaguer (30 minutes additional journey). www.renfe.com
Benvinguts: accommodation for hikers and cyclists
"Benvinguts" is a quality label for accommodation dedicated to hikers and cyclists: campsites, traditional buildings, guest rooms, 3 and 4 star hotels ... Accommodation - around forty in all - is spread over the entire territory from Lleida. More info on Benvinguts.
Where to sleep ?
Monastery of Avellanes on Carretera C-12, in Os de Balaguer. Phone. : 973 438 006. Well located for exploring La Noguera, it offers comfortable and functional rooms from 44,80 to 64,20 € per person with breakfast. Plus € 16,30 for half board. In addition to the 37 rooms, this religious site, founded in 1195, lodges around XNUMX Marist brothers.
Where to eat ?
Casa Mercè: in the village of Fontdepou. Phone. : 973 292 032. Open Friday evening, Saturday-Sunday and public holidays. Around € 30. The sparkling and warm Mercè, Francophile up to the stove, combines traditional local cuisine and French influences, in a slow food spirit, respectful of organic farming and small producers.
Where to buy good products?
Molí del Pau: in Os de Balaguer. Phone. : 973 438 098. The lands of Lleida and La Noguera give almonds, olives, peaches, honey… Good products transformed into cakes, oil, jam, turrón, etc., sold in this small local grocery store, which houses also an oil mill.