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The Roman road

The Roman road

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5 Elements of the PROPOSALS IN THIS TOWN
Walk this major engineering feat with more than 2,000 years of history. Constructed by the Romans, it was once the only link between La Garrotxa and the valley of Camprodon.


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The route of the Roman road has two clearly differentiated parts. On the one hand, we will find some remains in Castellfollit de la Roca, which could have a Roman origin and, on the other, the ancient Roman road from Capsacosta, in Bianya valley, which was built over 2000 years ago. We will start the tour in Castellfollit de la Roca, in the vegetable gardens of Turonell, located between the creek which takes the same name and the basaltic scarp. Supposedly, the Roman road came from Besalú, following Fluvià, and went up to the cliff, along the Rossolada path, where nowadays the village of Castellfollit de la Roca is found. It is believed that this cobbled path follows the ancient Roman road. Once at the top, it turned right until the present square of Josep Pla, from where still today some spectacular views of the area can be admired. From behind the old church, now turned into an exhibition hall and with a privileged view of the bell tower, it is believed that the first Roman road continued to the present street Vell, street Del Fortí and street Nou, until getting to Sant Roc square, where there is the clock tower, with a very peculiar history. From here it would have followed in direction to Sant Joan les Fonts. However, the remains cannot confirm that this branch of the Roman road was present at this point in time, before continuing to Capsacosta hill. This route would follow Fluvià valley and would turn Castellfollit de la Roca scarps into a watchtower. It is known that these kind of geographical features were highly appreciated by the Romans. There are not any other Roman remains until Bianya valley, where it starts what we call the Roman road. From Castellfollit de la Roca we can get there by car or on foot, following some of the signposted routes. We can start the walk from Sant Salvador de Bianya or from Traginers path. If we do it from the village of Sant Salvador de Bianya, we will go deep into a path surrounded by forests, which will take us to Sant Pau de Segúries, going up Capsacosta hill, along 6,2 km and a slope of 420 meters. In the steepest parts, slopes exceed 10%. Along this excursion, we will find some very well preserved parts and others which have deteriorated over time. It is important, though, not to wear Roman sandals, since we will walk on thousand-year old stones. This part, the only one preserved, was part of a route which was separated from the great Via Augusta, connecting Roma with Cadis. This branch allowed people to go deep into the Pyrenees and it is believed it crossed them by Ares hill. It must be taken into account that, apart from people and animals, carriages were also commonly seen. As you will see, it now seems impossible to imagine vehicles with wheels travelling through these paths. Some great evidence of the popularity this route had ages ago are the remains of hostels from the 17th century. As time went by and with the improvements in the roads, it became disused and, later it was turned into a stock road. The Roman road is nowadays properly signposted. It is marked with a lot of signs indicating the main road or secondary ones. As we go up the road we will see some parts more similar to how they used to be 2000 years ago. There are very well preserved parts and others which have deteriorated over time. It must be noted how its tight turns near Capsacota, the pavements, drains and many other details were used to gain altitude. You do not have to stare at the ground on which others have walked in the past to enjoy this walk, though. In the parts where the abundance of vegetation allows it, we will understand why the village is called Vall de Bianya. Hills and mountains ranges rise up, leaving humid valleys in between them. We will be able to contemplate them from a privileged viewpoint, for its location and history. We can also note the difference in the vegetation on one side and the other. On the river Fluvià side, holm oaks and oaks predominate, and on the river Ter side, even more humid and high, beech and pastures. 
The Romans were people who lived here long ago, more than 2000 years ago. They lived very differently from us. They did not have cars or mobile phones, but one thing we have in common is that their language was similar to ours, and that we go to school and know how to build roads and cities. We will now walk on a road built by the Roman Empire. They weren’t used by cars, motorbikes or trucks: there were only people on foot or carriages pulled by animals. There were times when a lot of people used these roads, and that is why there were hostels to sleep along the route. Now there are only a few stones left, but we can imagine them. Can you imagine where they slept, what they ate and the games children played?


Did you know that the origin and the destination of this Roman road were unknown? It is believed that it was a branch of the Via Augusta, which crossed Empordà and went by Besalú, Castellfollit de la Roca and Olot plain, but not enough remains have been found to know for sure its itinerary. For now, only the Bianya valley can say with certainty and pride… AVE CESAR! The itinerary next to the vegetable gardens is part of a foot path from the Natural Park, which allows us to find out, apart from the scarp, some elements of industrial archaeology. They are gutters and locks which divert the water from the factories of Can Mulleras and Can Xaudiera (Montagut) to produce hydroelectric energy.

Additional data

Recommendation: To take notice of how the Romans were able, 2000 years ago, to deal with steeper slopes than our present roads have. Although they used vehicles with wheels, they dared to make turns of almost 180 degrees. What speed could the carriages take? What was going on in the taverns near the road? How many animals have crossed this hill throughout the history?

More information

Geography: This road was for many centuries the only existing connection between La Garrotxa plain and Camprodon valley. The higher you get the better views you have from the valleys and the plain in the background. The route goes up from the Bianya valley, in between oaks and holm oaks, until reaching a height of 1,000 meters at Capsacosta hill. Then, you can go down on the other side of the read, heading to Sant Pau de Segúries, the Camprodon valley, which is part of the Ter basin.

The Roman roads: The Roman road of Capsacosta or Via Annia, was part of the road map the Romans created for their empire. The map had a very clear central point, the imperial city, Rome. Their aims were to connect Rome with the rest of the empire, making it easier for goods and military troops to move. Unfortunately, in our country there are very few remains of the Roman roads, and none as well preserved and long as the Capsacosta. The fact that it is located near the Pyrenees is not pure coincidence. It was probably because of its isolation that it is still preserved. The Romans were excellent architects, and, along the road, we can find evidence of that, such as the stone pavement, its turns and bridges, the drains, the pavements, etc. All this allowed them to build wide roads which crossed hills of almost 1,000 meters. People had to wait for over 1000 years before being able to build something similar!

The Romanization: The Roman Empire was the most powerful in its time, approximately 2000 years ago. It reached Asia, the south of Europe and almost the whole Mediterranean Sea. It kept extending its territory by force, but also coming to an agreement with the villages settled in the territory beforehand. As the rest of empires, it had its ups and downs. There were times when a lot was invested in improving and extending the road nets. We owe a lot to the Romans: paths, cities, the way to create laws, etc. In fact, the Romanization improved in many aspects the daily life of the people at that time. And the language must also be noted, since Catalan, like Castilian, French and many other languages stem from Latin.