Any excuse is good to take a few days off and go on a route, so… why not use the occasion to go for a walk through Catalunya’s history? Pedratour invites you to celebrate spring with a guided route through the history of Catalan Romanesque, from April 1 to 5: the Oliba Route.

Oliba Route
Manresa Channel

The Oliba Route is a thematic trail connecting some of the most emblematic Romanesque works in Catalunya, using the life of Bishop and Abbot Oliba as a common thread. The Oliba Route follows the long-distance trail GR-151, from Montserrat to the Pyrenees: over 200 km crossing the regions of Bages, Moianès, Osona and Ripollès, and passing through some of the towns with more history in Old Catalunya, as Manresa, Vic, Ripoll, and Sant Joan de les Abadesses. It’s a journey through Catalunya’s origins, through these ancient times when distinguished figures as the Bishop and Abbot Oliba struggled to populate and Christianize these lands by strewing them with churches and monasteries.

Okay, fine, and who on Earth is this Oliba guy? Well, that’s a pretty long list, you see: Guifré el Pilós’ great-grandson, Count and Bishop of Berga and Ripoll, Benedictine Abbot of the Santa Maria de Ripoll and Sant Miquel de Cuixà monasteries (the most important two in Catalunya back then in the early 11th century), Bishop of Vic, founder of the Montserrat Monastery, and one of the main promoters of Romanesque in Catalunya. To put it short, we owe him many social actions in the context of the Reconquest, and much of our Romanesque heritage. Many of the great Romanesque works in Catalunya, as the Santa Maria de Ripoll basilica, the Manresa priory, and the Sant Pere de Vic Cathedral where promoted by this personage but, furthermore, as he was one of the most important people who introduced in Catalunya the Romanesque architectural novelties, we must thank him for almost everything we have in that style. And, if there’s one thing we have in Catalunya, that’s Romanesque art.

Catalan Romanesque
Oliba Route Montserrat
Santa Cecília de Montserrat Monastery

That’s why I’m saying the Oliba Route is a route through the history of Catalan Romanesque. However, since it’s very long and it ends in the back of beyond –and it’s hard to return home from Les Basses de Puigsec, barely knowing where it is, after 15 days hiking–, Pedratour proposes you try a sample of it: the first 4 stages, from Montserrat to Vic, with a guide who will show you every wonder of the places you’ll visit. And, since you’ll be wanting more, you can spare the rest of the trail for some other occasion!

We encourage you to make the most of Lent and join us in this thematic trail, from April 1 to 5. Come on! We’ll meet with the guide and the rest of the group at Montserrat Monastery on the first day of April, to start our adventure on the next day by heading for Manresa. A beautiful stretch (despite some overly urbanized areas), mainly downhill, and connecting two key spots of Central Catlaunya. As for Romanesque monuments, we’ll see the Monastery of Santa Cecília de Montserrat (founded by our protagonist), the Sant Cristòfol church, and, once in Manresa, La Seu (its museum is worth a visit), the Santa Clara Convent, and the Old Bridge (Pont Vell).

The second stage takes us from Manresa to Artés on a lovely and flat stroll, skirting rivers and channels across vineyards and dry farming lands. On this relaxed stage we’ll have the chance to admire the main Romanesque monument of the Bages region, the Benedictine monastery of Sant Benet de Bages. It’s one of the best preserved medieval monastic ensembles, and it’s a true wonder. In Artés, we’ll find the Romanesque church of Santa Maria d’Artés. To round off this lovely day, we’ll stay overnight at Mas de la Sala, a great, homely hotel.

Oliba Route Sant Benet de Bages
Sant Benet de Bages Monastery
Santa Maria de l'Estany
Cloister of the Santa Maria de l’Estany Monastery

On the fourth day (the third day walking), we’ll head for L’Estany crossing the very heart of Catalunya. I won’t lie to you, we will climb and climb all day, yet calmly. The slope is moderate, and the ascent is relaxed across very bucolic pastures and pine forests. Almost without notice, we’ll be arrived in L’Estany, in the Moianès region, were the 12th century Santa Maria d’Estany Monastery will be awaiting us.

The last stage takes us into the Osona region, which will receive us all green and bright. Smoothly downhill, accompanied by pines, oaks, and infinite fields, we’ll make it to Vic. There, the Sant Pere Apòstol Cathedral stands out. The cathedral is today a mixture of architectural styles; from the original Romanesque temple, built by Bishop Oliba, only the crypt and the imposing belltower remain. You definitely must visit the Episcopal Museum, right beside the belltower, since it holds collections of great value. The museum shows over 29.000 pieces, some of which go back to the Neolithic. However, its main attraction is the amazing exhibition of medieval painting and sculpture, especially the Romanesque and Gothic art collections. The Romanesque art collection of Vic’s Episcopal Museum is one the most important in the world, you cannot miss it! Furthermore, Vic has its own Romanesque route, a 3 km walk around the old town to visit the city’s main Romanesque monuments. Quite a complete experience, don’t you think?

Oliba Route Vic
Belltower of the Sant Pere Cathedral

Abbot Oliba’s trail is more than just a hike, it’s a project which skilfully uses Romanesque art as a binding element in Central Catalunya in order to promote territorial equilibrium, and to make people aware of everything offered by Catalunya’s interior regions: landscape, gastronomy, culture, history… Join us for a part of this trail and immerse yourself in the history of these lands with us. If you like hiking and Romanesque, the Oliba Route is your trail!