WHICH AWESOME CITY CAN BE FOUND CLOSE TO BARCELONA?

BLANES IS A HIDDEN GEM IN COSTA BRAVA, NOT SO KNOWN AS BARCELONA YET EQUALLY BEAUTIFUL AND TOTALLY WORTH MENTIONING

An incredible view on Blanes town

I bet you have never heard about Blanes – a charming coastal city very close to Barcelona. Blanes is called “the door of Costa Brava”. It stretches along the famous and extremely beautiful Costa Brava coast and basically it can be your hiking starting point where you can stroll endlessly with the views over the translucent Balearic sea. That’s exactly what we did! We hiked along Costa Brava.⠀


With our backpacks full of food, water and other necessary things, we walked who know how many kilometres along the most beautiful coast in the whole Spain. Here is the small part of our journey.

BARCELONA IS NOT THE ONLY CITY IN SPAIN

Just to make it clear – I am not trying to diss Barcelona! For sure the capital of Catalonia has its charm and unique vibe, but all I am saying is that it shouldn’t be so much in focus where there are dozens of other places, towns, villages and epic places throughout Spain that have so much to offer – perhaps even more than Barcelona!

This is just one of many amazing views during our hike along Costa Brava. The city in the background is Blanes and its long sand beach.⠀Yes, the beach is public but it is long enough for anyone to find a private spot! However, if you walk a bit further, you will find many other beaches, many of them hidden almost private with incredibly soft sand.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN BLANES BESIDES HIKING?⠀

1.⠀MARIMURTRA – Botanical garden⠀


A spectacular botanical garden with an awesome sea view that includes over 4000 different plant species and is visited by 300,000 people every year. Come early and enjoy the jungle.

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2. SAN JUAN HILL & CASTLE⠀


Worth climbing and the views from above.

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3. COVES & BEACHES⠀


4. PINYA DE ROSA⠀


It consists of over 7000 different plant species.⠀Tropical Garden Pinya de Rosa has more than 7.000 species of tropical plants especially an amazing cactus collection?

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5. The Festa major or feast of Santa Anna and Sant Joaquim
Firework
competition during the summer.⠀

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6. FIESTAS, CARNIVALS, CONCERTS

Check about any events prior to your trip. Many are cancelled and many will perhaps be performed with certain rules. Besides, many of those events are held only during the summer.

7. TRY PAELLA AND OTHER TRADITIONAL DISHES/DRINKS


Hopefully next year it will be a lot more lively than this year during pandemic.⠀
Here are more pictures from extraordinary Costa Brava. Sit back, relax and enjoy! 🙂


Have you ever heard of Blanes or Costa Brava? What is your favourite city in Spain besides Barcelona ? 🙂

The Templars Best & Unique Masterpiece Of All Time

Castles remind me of my childhood.

Miravet castle in Catalonia

Once upon a time, I was a kid. Well, we’ve all been there. We all played during our childhood. But perhaps, our toys were a bit different. To be frank, I didn’t have many toys to play with when I was young, and most of the toys I had were inherited from my sister and my cousins. Regardless of that, my childhood spirit always liked way more to create toys and entertainment from anything that was around me than to have nicely wrapped gifts that were hiding items inside. My childhood crew and I would climb on fig trees and pretend each tree is someone’s fortress.

Oddly enough, we would play war using any high building or a hill pretending it’s our castle and fold our hands pretending we have weapons to shoot. If now I think about it, it is not that strange considering I grew up in Croatia, on the territory of Ex Yugoslavia where the last war ended somewhere around 25 years ago – exactly when I came to this world. So I realized, that is maybe the reason why I love castles so much. I admire how castles are massive, powerful, glorious, and what people made centuries ago usually only with the power of their own hands.

A girl sitting on the window of Galeria de Profundis in Miravet castle
The view from Galeria de Profundis, one of the five rooms on four floors inside of the castle

I am a visual person, so while I stroll around any castle, I am imagining everything that was happening there in history – both good and bad. If you ask me, castles are like time machines. And while they can drag you back in the past and relive some amazing emotions, at the same time they can take you to the future leaving you wondering what we, as humans, will now leave behind to some future generations. To be frank, I haven’t visited many castles in my life, but fortresses. The first and actual castle I have ever seen was a castle Trakošćan in Croatia.

A girl smiling while sitting on the window of Miravet castle overviewing on Ebro river and surrounding area
My happy face from Miravet castle viewing Miravet village and Ebro river

So let’s dive into history. In this article expect to find out everything about 11th-century old Miravet castle; where is it located, how to get here, is there any public transport, what is the nearest largest city and much other useful information. You simply have to visit this place and you are about to find out why!

PS: Travelling to Spain is not allowed until the 1st of July, so if you are currently not in Spain, save this post (or pin it) for some future travels!

WHERE IS IT LOCATED?

Miravet castle and catalonia on Google Maps

Miravet castle is located in the municipality of Miravet in Catalonia, the country of Spain. In the heart of the Terres de l’Ebre, and on the banks of the River Ebro. The first biggest city close by is Tarragona (around 70 km) and the second biggest is Barcelona (160km or 1h and 40 min). You can land to the airport in Barcelona (El Prat) but I advise you to choose Reus airport because it’s way closer (around 60km or 40 min).

The view from Miravet castle to Miravet muncipality and Ebro river
The view from Miravet castle to Miravet muncipality and Ebro river
The view from Miravet castle on Ebro river
The view from Miravet castle on the other side of the Ebro river and Serres de Cardo-el Boix

Getting to Miravet

1. BY CAR

If you ask me, the best way is to rent a car and head off to adventure in the south of Catalonia. Do you remember my cave painting explorings I was posting about on my Insta stories? Well, here close by you can find them in the place called Rasquera. Take the AP7/A7 motorway or NACIONAL ROAD N420 or the N340 along the coast (depends what is your starting point) until arrive in Hospitalet de l’Infant and follow direction Mora (C44 and C12). If you are using GPS: search for BENISSANET and continue 3 km along the same road until Miravet.

Orange signs are some other medieval places to explore in the surrounding of Miravet

ATTENTION: BOTH GOOGLE AND GPS Maps lead to the traditional navigation ferry powered only by the ebro river current (open from 9 to 18h in winter and 9 to 19h in summer). Access by car is only allowed for the residents of Cap de la Vila (old town), so if you decide to take the ride with this ferry, just leave the car in the parking at the Arenal square.

2. BY TRAIN

Spanish trains are the fastest in Europe plus the landscapes are extraordinary so you can expect to have a great time with the train. However, I advise you to book tickets in advance as if you do, they tend to be much cheaper.

LOOK FOR RENFE – THE SPANISH STATE RAILWAY AND The Regional R15 the station Móra la Nova / Line Barcelona-Zaragoza-Madrid. it will take you around 2 hours to get here from Barcelona.
beware that you will still have the Distance from the railway station to Miravet of 11 km. here you can hitchhike or call a local taxi in Miravet- +34 609 226 821 / +34 685 810 072)

3. BY BUS

I was driving with ALSA – Spanish bus company and those buses are the most comfortable I have ever seen. They even have screens on each seat and plenty of space for your legs. You can sleep like a baby or simply enjoy scenic views of the Spain. HIFE is also a great company that offers high-quality services in their buses.

My first blog appearance in ALSA, the Spanish bus company when I was driving back to my previous home in Valencia

With the Company Hife you can take the line: Barcelona-Zaragoza-Madrid. Of course, check their official website first and timetables. the CLOSEst STATION is MÓRA D’EBRE, around 6 km from miravet.

4. TAXI

Although Spain is an affordable country especially in rural areas, taxis can be quite expensive especially if you are taking it from the long-distance from Miravet. I wouldn’t recommend getting a taxi, but if you are out of options, let it be – it will be totally worth it – promise!

MASSIVE AND MARVELOUS

Massive Miravet castle and its walls
Miravet castle from the parking lot (back side)

Imposing Miravet castle lies on top of the historical town called Miravet, in an idyllic countryside of picturesque Catalonia.

The view on Miravet village from river Ebro
The view on Miravet town and castle from the Ebro river

I advise you to book a kayak along Ebro River from Mora D’ebre village where at the end of the route, the castle will emerge allowing you to admire the beautiful views of the Miravet skyline.

A girl kayaking on the river Ebro with Miravet castle in the distance
It was my first time kayaking and I already came in front of the castle! 🙂

Built on a strategic position, this medieval castle is one of the best examples of the Romanesque architecture of the Order of the Templars in Europe. Terres de l’Ebre region is full of monuments and fortresses but this castle is the most popular monument in the area. The purpose of the building was military and religious, built in the defensive style with enormous walls around 80 meters that rise up over the River Ebro. The views are simply stunning! If it wasn’t so windy that day, I’d stay even longer, just staring and sitting…

A girl enjoying in epic views over Ebro river from Miravet castle
I could sit and stare there forever…but, how long is forever?

After its conquest in 1153, the castle ended up in hands of the Christians. After Christians, it has been given to Pere de Rovira, master of the Knights Templar. Under Knights Templar’s power, the castle has been reconstructed becoming one of the main centers of Christian power on the Iberian Peninsula. However, Miravet castle is not just a castle but a walled citadel with constructions on different levels. On the picture below you can see different levels that I am talking about.

Miravet castle from the back

Templars constructed the building in a relatively short time, but the remains of an Andalusian fortress are still visible especially in the lower sections of the wall.

A girl in red sitting in the Miravet castle
Sitting in Galeria de Profundis, thinking how amazing it would be to live in one castle…

WHEN TO VISIT?

Anytime! The castle is closed on Mondays except for public holidays, 25th and 26th December and 1st and 6th January.

From 16th December to 28th February: from 10 am to 3.30 pm (+30 min)

From 1st March to 31th May: from 10 am to 7.00 pm (+30 min)

From 1st June to 30th September: from 10 am to 7.30 pm (30 min)
From 1st October to 15th December: from 10 am to 5.00 pm. (+30min)

Castell de Miravet
Camí del Castell, s/n
43747 Miravet (Tarragona)
Tel. (+34) 977407368
MORE ABOUT MIRAVET CASTLE – OFFICIAL WEBSITE
A girl in red inside of the Miravet castle in Terres de l'Ebre

TICKET PRICE TO MIRAVET CASTLE

We visited Miravet at the beginning of June and we were surprised that the entrance was free – probably due to the coronavirus and the whole global situation that is currently going on. Usually, the ticket is symbolical – €5.
PS: Beware that you still have to wear face mask both indoors and outdoors in Spain. Fines are huge – don’t mess around! We couldn’t come inside without face masks.

A girl standing on the entrance to Miravet castle
The entrance to Miravet castle

HOW DOES IT LOOK FROM THE INSIDE?

Miravet is one of the largest fortified structures in Catalonia. The castle complex includes spaces and rooms that are clear proof of the economic independence of Templars: a church, granaries and storage rooms, shops, a large kitchen, and a dining room, etc. In total, there are 15 rooms. Apparently, this castle had everything that anyone needed at that time.

A girl in red inside of the Miravet castle on the top of the staircase

If you ask me, the most interesting room is the church of the Virgin Mary because it’s hidden and it is the most simple church I have ever seen. Comparing to churches that were built later especially today, Templars seemed to me like a modest organization instead of a wealthy one. In fact, there are only a few, barely visible crosses engraved on the walls. Nothing fancy, quite minimalistic – just a room where people used to come to pray.

The castle suffered the most (as well as people) in the time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) when it was repeatedly damaged and rebuilt.  

After climbing the spiral staircase to the very top, you should find yourself in an open area with some extra amazing views of the surrounding countryside and river Ebro that flows with its long 928 km! However, this part was closed for us and I have no idea why – we did not even ask. We blamed it on coronavirus. In this area, you will also emerge yourself inside one of the five rooms, all with different purposes. The last room will be the church.

A staircase to Miravet castle

WHAT ELSE TO SEE?

A CHARMING SMALL MIRAVET TOWN

After you finish sightseeing at the castle, stroll around picturesque Miravet town. This cute place is a perfect corner of Catalonia to get lost and wander… The Moors built this old town on the steep red rock and houses are charming with pastel colors, perfectly matching with the natural shades of the area, full of bunny ear cactuses and prickly pears. Oh, and of course – oranges!

There’s also one Romanesque church that you probably noticed on my previous pictures with stunning views. This gorgeous city offers many street cafés right on the banks of the river, little shops, and restaurants where you must sit, perhaps eat a bocadillo, tapas or drink a cerveza and enjoy the cozy atmosphere.

Miravet town in Spain
I couldn’t believe how half of these houses were completely empty, abandoned, full of dust and bats…

PRO TIP: If you have time, check MIRAVET’S POTTERY, THE “PAS DE BARCA”, THE LAST ORIGINAL OF THE EBRO, AND THE ARTWORK OF THE GREAT PAINTER JOAQUIN MIR

I would describe this town as a fairytale because that is how it made me feel. I know many people aim mostly for Barcelona when they visit Catalonia but there is a lot more to see such as this piece of paradise. Miravet should be a must-see and on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit in Spain. Beautiful little streets, stunning views, pottery, art, traditional ferry or a kayaking adventure along Ebro river…there’s a bit of everything here for everyone!

Miravet town in Catalonia
The town of Miravet was built right under the red steep rock
EXPLORE MORE ABOUT MIRAVET TOWN AND SURROUNDING PLACES OF
Terres de l’Ebre 

You can actually overnight in this blue beauty! The Palau de Miravet is the most emblematic Miravet civil building. The location is so dreamy overlooking the river Ebro and the historic site. It’s vibrant blue color caught my eye already from the river. However, it is indeed pricy and my pocket is not that much deep, but if yours is – just go for it!

in case you didn’T KNOW…

The Knights Templar

The Knights Templar was a huge organization of devout Christians. They were active during the medieval era and their mission was of great importance: to protect European travelers visiting sites in the Holy Land while also carrying out military operations. They were extremely wealthy, powerful, and mysterious order. Historians are still fascinated by them and their architecture and so am I, and so will you be too!

A girl in red smiling on top of the Miravet town in Miravet castle
And this is how happy you will be after visiting Miravet castle and the town…:)
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