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Authentic Olot

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Authentic Olot

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17 Elements of the PROPOSALS IN THIS TOWN
What makes Olot so unique and singular? Find out how its surroundings, art and history leave a mark on the city of the volcanoes.

Description

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Artistic, Carlist, volcanic, historic, etc. there are many adjectives which may be suitable to describe the city of Olot, historical and present capital of La Garrotxa. Along this route we will try to get to know it through its geography, history and also its most remarkable buildings, its quarters, parks, etc. We will wander around the Vila Nova and Vila Vella, we will climb the Montsacopa volcano and, among other things, we will get to know the landscapes painted by the artists of the Olot School of Landscape. The whole route and be done on foot and it is advisable to walk slowly and peacefully so as to enjoy every part of it. To complement this route there are other ones which focus on different aspects, such as Olot volcanoes or Modernist La Garrotxa.
The origins of Olot date back to 872. Therefore, Olot is more than millenary, although there are almost no remains left of buildings constructed before 1427 and 1428, since, in these years, two earthquakes demolished practically the whole city. The Vila Vella was a fortified precinct located between Montsacopa volcano and the river Fluvià, that is to say, in the area where there is the Carme and also Santa Maria del Tura church and also Santa Magdalena bridge.
A great ay to start the stroll is, precisely, in front of Mare de Déu del Tura church. Inside the church there is one of the most remarkable Mothers of God of Catalonia: the Tura Virgin, Olot’s patron saint. The Romanesque Virgin’s image dates from the 12th century and it has been worshiped by the city. Close by there is the Carme church (1572). This convent is the oldest one of Olot’s architecture and boasts an impressive inner Renaissance cloister.
To go from the Vila Vella onto the Vila Nova we can spend some time in the old streets which combine its centuries of existence with a lifely commercial life. The local products, the artistic element and the quality materials are some of the relevant aspects of the shops found in these streets. The market and its surroundings are also worth visiting. Here, the smells, the flavours and the colours gt together to show the personality of this territory.
Right next to the market there is the Hospice. Nowadays, it is home to the information office and La Garrotxa Museum, which specializes in Catalan painting and, especially, in the members and followers of the Olot School of Landscape.
Going to the Vila Nova we will find other interesting buildings such as Sant Esteve parish church. Its origin is an old Romanesque church dating from the 10th century built outside the city walls. The present construction dates from the 18th century, although some elements such as the stairway were added at a later date, in 1897. Its bell tower is one of the most remarkable elements of Olot.
Inside Sant Esteve church there is the old Parish Museum which has a hugely valuable work depicting Christ embracing the Greco cross. Close by there is Can Trincheira, a building constructed in the 8th century home to the Trincheria family lineage, key historical players in the military and in politics. A key characteristic feature of the house is the original decoration of the walls with landscapes and mythological scenes, in addition to its historical furniture. One element that has contributed to the house’s popularity is its nativity scene, featuring items from different periods and artists.
Opposite Sant Estve there is Gaietà Vila house, a great example of Modernist style which leads us to the Firal, one of the most remarkable places in Olot. Along this promenade, officially called Passeig d’en Blay, we will come across some emblematic sculptures such as La Lectura or L’Origen. There are buildings which have become a referent such as the Solà-Morales house and the main theatre.
Going up the Firal square we will get to Torín quarter, where there are the Regional Archives of La Garrotxa and the bullring. Built halfway throught the 19th century, it is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. Due to the bullfighting ban and the general lack of interest the bullring is no longer used.
From this place we can go to the graveyard and then to the top of the Montsacopa volcano. Once we ge to the top we can admire the stunning views and the defence towers described in the Volcanoes route, as well as Sant Francesc chapel, built after the Peninsular War on top of an old military complex. Its presence in such a privileged and symbolic place turns it into one of the best viewpoints in La Garrotxa.
If we leave the old centre we will come across another emblematic building in Sant Rafael Street: Sant Jaume hospital.
Now we will go to the expansion district through Vayreda Street. We will see two buildings which tell us a lot about the history of Olot and some of its main characters: the Museum of Saints and the Vayreda’s manor house. The Museum is set in the same neo-Gothic building where in 1880 Joaquim Vayreda and Josep Berga i Boix founded the Art Cristià.
Opposite the Museum of Saints, in Vayreda Street, there is the family old house. The siblings Joaquim Vayreda (1843-1894) and Marià Vayreda (1853-1903), together with the botanist Estanislau, among other personalities, have play an important role in Olot’s life.
Sant Rafael Street leads us onto the Clarà square or Parc Vell. The inner gardens are the perfect place to rest in the summer. You can also admire the sculpture La Maternitat, a work by the sculptor Josep Clarà. In the past it had been a convent and later a military complex. From the square we can continue onto the newest part of the city, built during the 20th century. Some areas were desgined at the beginning of the century whilst others in the 60s, the 70s or more recently.
The Malagrida expansion district was designed by Manuel Malagrida Fontanet, a man from Olot who had made a fortune dealing with tobacco in Argentina (owner of París, the famous cigar factory) and, once back in his home town, donated some money for this project. He wanted to create what the Noucentist called a model of expansion district-city-garden with green areas and isolated houses. Although this expansion district was not built at the time, the later constructions respected Malagrida’s original design.
If we leave the expansion district in the opposite direction of the city we will go into the Parc Nou, with small, quiet and peaceful parks and gardens. Inside of it we will find the Museum of Volcanoes, housed in a beautiful building dating from 1854. Close by we will see La Moixina settings: a magic place with a beautiful landscape which has been a source of inspiration for many painters and artists.
Finally, one of the places we cannot forget is the Green Road, which goes by Sant Roc springs and the Station quarter. This road which follows the river Fluvià is where the train entered ad left the city. Today it has been turned into a path exclusive for pedestrians and cyclists.
Along this route we have tasted what Olot can offer us through a quiet stroll around its streets, squares and parks. We have walked around the volcanoes and have enjoyed the Modernist buildings, although there are many things still to see.
Olot city is the capital of La Garrotxa. It is not very big and we can walk around it on foot. Along this route we will first visit the old centre of Olot, built inside the city walls. We will later discover other parts of the city. We will also see buildings and parks, beautiful places where we will stop to draw, and museums to learn many things!
In 1427 and 1428 some earthquakes destroyed the whole city and that is why there are no buildings left of that time. The earthquakes might have been caused by the volcanoes. You can go up the volcanoe and there is one, the Montsacopa, right in the centre of the city.
Once up there, we can go round the crater. The volcanoes have been dormant for nearly 10.000 years and so the people have built houses on top of them, and there is even a chapel called Sant Francesc. From here we can draw the city and, when we go down, we will be able to see the places we have drawn. The oldest building of Olot is the belltower of Sant esteve church, can you see it?
Near the church there are many narrow streets built many centuries ago. There are also great Modernist buildings, some with spectacular and colourful balconies.
If you like riding a bike Olot is your city. There is a cycle path which crosses the city and gets to the Green Road, just after crossing the river Fluvià. The Green Road is a path built following the old railway. We can cycle to the Sant Roc springs and get to the city outskirts. If we went on, we would even reach Girona and Sant Feliu de Guíxols!

Curiosity

When the 1427 and 1428 earthquakes destroyed the city of Olot, the King Alfonso the Kind allowed the people from Olot to choose whether they wanted to rebuild the city in the same place or somewhere else. They finally decided to rebuild the city outside the old city walls and, hence, outside the area controlled by the abbot of Ripoll, who did not like it. It is thanks to this reconstruction that the streets near the main square are built in a grid layout.

Additional data

Recommendation: To pay attention to the multiple promotions and activities the city offers related to culture, gastronomy, art, history, etc.