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Garrotxa Cultour Proposals
The core area of the Natural Park

The core area of the Natural Park

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15 Elements of the PROPOSALS IN THIS TOWN
Discover the spectacular architectural heritage hidden between volcanoes, beech forests and lava flows.


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Along this route we will discover Santa Pau village and the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. We will visit churches, hermitages and unique spots; we will go deep into lush forests, as well as into a volcanic crater. In this route, culture and nature go hand by hand. We will start at Can Pauet viewpoint, from where we will be able to admire Santa Pau medieval village and good part of its surroundings. There are several interesting points inside the village which are part of other routes such as Remences or Carlins. Therefore, it is highly recommendable to wander around the medieval village old, cobbled streets. Since Sant Pau is almost the geographical centre of the municipal territory, this route will be divided into small excursions starting at the centre of the village and going to almost all the cardinal points. We will head eastwards for the first visit, going down to Banyoles. After leaving the main road, we will walk until finding La Pedra del Diable (The Devil’s Stone) a great basaltic menhir. The legend says it was the devil that put it there, whereas science claims that it was our Neolithic ancestors. Following the path, further up, we will arrive to Can Batlle waterfall, a beautiful spot to freshen up during hot seasons, and where we can get after a beautiful trek. Back to the village, we can turn left and arrive to Santa Maria dels Arcs sanctuary. It is a church located in the outskirts of the village, which had previously been Santa Pau’s parish, until the 1427 and 1428 earthquakes destroyed it. Throughout the years, it has suffered several calamities and has been reconstructed during several periods. Then, we will take the north path and to go up to Sant Julià del Mont range. The first element we will find is Sant Martí Vell church, next to the paved path. If we want to continue going up to the mountain, we will have to park the car and continue walking up the range, following a beautiful hiking trip through wooded and solitary settings, until finding Sant Abdó and Sant Senén chapel, also known as Sant Nin and Sant Non, the farmers’ patrons, in a distant place. During centuries, it was an ideal place to beg good harvests to the two saints. Following upwards, we will arrive to the peak of Sant Julià del Mont range, where we can find a sanctuary which takes the same name. From this millenary sanctuary, both the river Ser and Fluvià’s valley can be admired. This highlights the strategic importance of the site, along with its history. Today, it is a calm shelter with wonderful views, where you can get after a long trek with a steep drop. In the last part of the route we can find Fageda d’en Jordà and the volcanoes. Coming out of Santa Pau, along the road, in direction to Olot, in the west, we will shortly find Santa Llúcia de Trenteres church. Between the volcanoes Croscat and Torrent, near Puig de la Costa, we will come across another beautiful church: Sant Miquel Sacot. We walk up to Santa Margarida volcano and we will go down into its circular crater, almost perfect, where we will find Santa Margarida Sacot hermitage. Very few churches in our country are located in such a singular spot. Just behind this volcano will be able to discover the lovely area of Fontpobra and Colltort castle, where we will enjoy some privileged views overlooking the Natural Park. In this route we have visited Santa Pau village, with its rich medieval heritage. Going over its territory we have also discovered several of its hermitages and chapels scattered around its forests and mountains and, finally, we have discovered the volcanoes and La Fageda, in the middle of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
Along this excursion, we will visit Santa Pau, a village in the comarca of La Garrotxa. From nearly every single corner, no matter where you look, you will see mountains and forests. It is a spectacular landscape! In Santa Pau you can wander around the medieval village, built more than 700 hundred years ago. Inside the castle, which is even a bit older, there lived the baron, who, in those times, was a very important person. People decided to build houses near the castle to feel safer next to such a powerful baron. It must be taken into account that not all the times have been as safe and quiet as the present ones. If these walls could talk! We will also be able to walk along its streets and get to the main square, with its arches and porches, definitely a convenient place to stay when it rains. On market days, the square was filled with local farmers selling and buying food. In fact, it was not called “Main Square”, it was called “Firal dels Bous”. Imagine a square crowded with stalls, carts, oxen and people. What a noise! Not far from the village there are some spectacular volcanoes. Many have the shape of a mountain, and we could not tell whether it is a volcanoe at first sight. Some others do have the volcano shape we imagine. To some we will be able to go up to the top and then go deep into the crater. But, relax! They have not erupted in many years and that is why inside we can even find trees, and, as in Santa Margarida’s case, a hermitage. Lava is a very hot liquid which erupts from a volcano, it covers everything and when it gets cold it turns into stone. In fact, there are many villages, forests and fields in the comarca of La Garrotxa lying on lava remains which came from the Earth long ago. Soils from volcanic origins are very special. They are excellent to grow certain types of products, such as the delightfully light haricot beans from Santa Pau. Since grown on these soils they have a unique taste, different from any others grown in other places. This is what makes them so unique and special. While volcanoes remain asleep, we will be able to nose about inside or near them without worrying. However, if any of the volcanoes woke up and began pouring out lava, we would have to run! And it could happen: it is estimated that they could erupt between the years 2000 and 3000. So let’s make the most of it whilst they are asleep!


La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park and, in fact, the whole comarca of La Garrotxa are examples of the successful combination of natural and cultural heritage with economic activities, such as La Fageda Cooperative. This non-profit project aims at integrating mentally disabled people into the labour market and gives employment to more than 280 people, from which more than a 60% has some kind of mental disability. There are guided tours to know how they work, why they do it and to taste their really tasty products.

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Recommendation: Getting inside La fageda d’en Jordà, a place where one of the most well-known Catalan poems by Joan Maragall, is set. This poet was a key element of modernist poetry by the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, and it is one of the most important and popular in Catalan culture. In his poem, titled “La Fageda d’en Jordà”, he immortalizes this place. Although more than a hundred years have gone by, when you go deep into La Fageda you can feel the same as the poet described.

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Geography: Santa Pau is located in the south-east of the comarca of La Garrotxa and right in the centre of the valley formed by Finestres and Sant Julià del Mont ranges. It is the place where the river Ser is born. It flows until meeting river Fluvià, which comes from Olot and Castellfollit de la Roca, on the other side of Sant Julià. It is part of a historic path which goes from Olot to Banyoles, going through Mieres and Sant Miquel de Campmajor. It is a very rich area, both geologically and geographically. There we can find volcanoes, mountains, valleys, rivers, etc.

History: There are records of Santa Pau as a name since 878, well over 1000 years ago! By the end of the 13th century Santa Pau barony was created and the baron started to live in the castle. This propelled the building process of houses, squares and walls around it, as they provided safety and to the people. One of these was the Main Square, earlier called Firal dels Bous, since it was the place where farmers gathered on market days. Its arches show the evolution of the rural Catalan Gothic throughout the 13th and 14th centuries, and were a good shelter in case of rain. The Remences, and many centuries later the Carlins, went through Santa Pau, a fact which takes us to the strategic situation of the village. These routes will show us a history filled with battles coming down from the mountains to assault the village and turn it into a strong setting. As you can see, Santa Pau’s history is long, since the first volcanoes up to these days.

The Volcanoes: A volcano is a place where the rocky and liquid substance found inside the Earth comes out. It is usually caused by the movement of the tectonic plates during millions of years, which are usually produced near those plates. When the eruption takes place, its intensity may vary, which results in volcanoes of different shapes. If we add the fact that each volcano is a different age, we can have some hints related to the diversity of shapes volcanoes have these days. In Catalonia we can find other volcanic areas and; we have some nearby such as the ones in the comarca of La Selva and Empordà. However, it is in La Garrotxa where we can find the greatest diversity and number of volcanoes, and where they are better preserved. In fact, one of the volcanoes was active just 10000 years ago.

La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park: It was in the 19th century when Francesc Xavier de Bolòs discovered, studied and spread the volcanic richness of La Garrotxa. Since then, people became more aware of this geological richness. As a result, it was sometimes used carelessly. From the second half of the 20th onwards, this heritage and its preservation started to be valued in the country. It was the time when the first conservation laws appeared and when the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park was created, during the eighties from the last century. Inside the Natural Park’s zone there are more than 42 volcanic cones. They are the youngest volcanic signs in the whole Iberic Peninsule, since they first appeared 350,000 years ago. The one in the comarca of Empordà, for example, dates from 10 million years ago, and so they are 30 times older. Geologically speaking, some are very recent as well. All the volcanoes in the area are not active, but not extinct either, since in the future they may become active again. In fact, it is believed that some of the volcanoes may erupt between the years 2000 and 3000, a very long period of time for us, although very short in terms of geology. All the volcanoes from La Garrotxa are monogenetic, that is to say, volcanoes which are created from only one eruption. If there was a new eruption another volcano would be created. One of the most characteristic, well-known and visited volcanoes is Santa Margarida. Its cone of 300 metres in diameter has got a round shape and it is 600 metres high. The crater’s hole is between 40 and 70 metres deep. The fact of having such a characteristic shape, a beautiful hermitage inside the crater and its easy access, make it one of the most visited in the park. Another iconic volcano is Croscat. It is extremely high: more tan 160 metres from the ground, and, together with La Pomadera, it is one of the youngest in the whole Iberic Peninsule, being between 7,000 and 11,000 years old. Its eruptions occurred in three phases, the last of which gave it its actual horseshoe shape. It was in this phase when lava covered the southwest area, where nowadays we find La Fageda d’en Jordà. It must be also considered that in the comarca of La Garrotxa there have been villages since millenniums ago. In the Barroca scarps there is the most ancient proof of human presence in the comarca, and we also know there was human presence in the Middle Palaeolithic, Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. Therefore, human beings might have been present during the volcanic eruptions from these time periods. What we know for sure is that the eruptions, the type of soil and the holography determined the subsequent occupation of the land, like it is happening these days.