Marcus Travel Journal

Catalonia, Spain

Area near L'Ametlla de Mar in Catalonia, Spain


Catalonia, is an autonomous community and designated as a nationality. France (seperated by the Pyrenees) and Andorra are to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the East and the community of Valencia to the south. There are four provinces in Catalonia: Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona and Lleida.

L'Ametlla de Mar

L’Ametlla de Mar is a fishing town, and had an auithentic feel - photo - G Marcus -

photo: G Marcus -

For our 2024 visit to Catalonia we rented a beautiful villa house not far from the coastal town of L' Ametlla de Mar. We choose this area because of the coastline. There are over 20 km of beautiful beaches as well as rocky coves. The GR92 coastal path, known as the Mediterranean Path, runs along its entire coastline, and was an option for a big hike, but I just did not find the time on this trip!

One location on the coast that I particularly liked was the Sant Jordi Castle, and old foritication. It was a short drive from our house and a holds a scenic setting.

  • DSC_3683-850-lapurevida
  • DSC_3681-850-lapurevida
  • DSC_3693-850-LAmtellademar-harbour
  • DSC_3876-850-TorrediSalim
  • DSC_3887-8750-CastillodeSantJordi
  • DSC_3888-850-coast

Photos: G Marcus -

Select the thumbnail to view larger photograph.


L’Ametlla de Mar is an authentic Mediterranean fishing village supporting commercial fishing. The coast line is know for its coves and beaches. We picked this area and enjoyed its natural coast and avoided the feel of being in an "over-developed" area, as can be find along some areas of the Spanish coast. On my first couple of drives into the town it was difficult. The city is a network of narrow one-way streets. Parking seemed to be a precious commodity. But once I was able to park the car and then walk up into the historic centre there was more to enjoy with pedestrian streets, restaurants, cafés and shops.

The town dates back to the 13th Century but the War of the Reapers (17th C) too its toll, with the town being rebuilt in the 18th C. Near the end of the 18th C the modern town began to emerge and then in the 19th C fisherman choose this location as a desired port. I would not call the majority of the town charming. It has an authenic working town feel, but I liked it more after getting into the upper historic centre.


Pure Vida, our villa near L'Ametlla de Mar was a great experience - photo G Marcus -

photo: G marcus

La Pura Vida - L'Ametlla de Mar

We rented a small villa near L'Ametlla de Mar - La Pura Vida - which made our stay in this area, almost two weeks, so enjoyable. We have never yet stayed at such a well provisioned accomodation. Our had thought of everyting in terms of our needs. We enjoyed the our own house and private pool. It was a short drive to L'Ametlla de Mar or down to the sea. I found so many places for morning photography drives I enjoyed the location and staying in this villa.

photo: G Marcus -


The city of Tarragona is a very interesting time with a rich history of Roman sites. We drove in, found a parkade in the old centre and then walked about to see some of the sites we had planned to visit.

Clloisters of the Tarragona Cathedral - photo - G Marcus -

photo: G Marcus -

Tarragona Cathedral

Built on a site of a Roman temple, it has transformed from a cathedral as well as at one time a Moorish mosque. The facade of the Cathedral incorporates Romanesque and Gothic features, chambers off the cloister display the remains of a Roman temple that were unearthed in 2015. Of the church we see today, the 12th century building has been restored through various projects over time. It has Romanesque and Gothic styles. It is a visual treat being inside, packed with Chapels. When you enter a map highlights more than 30 spots to see.

In particular I wanted to see the Cloister, that dates back to 1194. Some of the galleries of the cloister have gutters that guide rain water into the sewer system installed by the Romans that is still in use today! Arches, rose windows, capitals and columns, get ready to mavel the overall structure. On the wall of the eastern gallery is an Arabian inscription that dates to 950 when the building was a mosque.

Les Ferreres Acquaduct, Tarragona - photo - Glenn Marcus -

photo: G Marcus -

Les Ferreres Acqueduct

Constructed during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD), it is part of the Roman acqueducts that delivered water to the Roman city of Tarraco, today known as Tarragona. It is located 4 km outside the city, so it is not a site that you can see on your walks through Tarragona. It transported water from the Francolí river which is 15 km north of Tarragona. There are two levels of arches, the upper level has 25 and the lower level eleven. I walked up the hill which gives a view of the actual water channel that runs across the top. You can walk it. I enjoyed my time here. From the parking lot it is a couple of minutes wallk to arrive at the acquaduct. My kind of site: no tickets, no crowds or line-ups.


Montblanc, Spain - photo Glenn Marcus -

photo: G Marcus -


On the drive from Zaragoza to L'Ametlla de Mar we stopped in Montblanc for a drink and to relax in the central plaza. We found Montblanc livedup to write-ups, it is a beautiful town. It was a Sunday, however, so only the cafes were open. Montblanc is a walled medieval town with UNESCO World Heritage Site status. We parked on one of the outside streets, walked through one of the original ports through the walls and walked to the centre of town.

  • DSC_4814-575h-Tortosa-street
  • DSC_4833-T575h-ortosa
  • DSC_4837-575h-tortosa-CasaFontantet
  • DSC_4838-575h-Tortosa-Portal del Romeus
  • DSC_4846-575h-TortosaMuseum
  • DSC_4849-575h-Tortosa
  • DSC_4860-575h-Tortosa-tower-CastelldelaSuda
  • DSC_4886-575h-Tortosa
  • DSC_4902-575h-Tortosa-SantaClara
  • DSC_5189-575h-Tortosa-CatheralCloister
  • DSC_5189-575h-Tortosa-CatheralCloister
  • DSC_5200-ai gf-575-TortosaCathederal
  • DSC_5215-575h-TortosaCathedral
  • DSC_5215-575h-TortosaCathedral
  • DSC_5247-575h-TortosaCathedral
  • DSC_5536-575h-Tortosa-RoyalCollege
  • DSC_5530-575h-Tortoa-RoyalCollege

Select the thumbnail image to see a larger version of the photo.

photos: G Marcus,


This was another one of the highlights of the trip for me. It has a long history. Even before Roman times, when it was the town of Dertosa. Occupied and under Muslim rule for more than 400 years, conqiered by Count Berenguer IV of Barcelona in 1148. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Tortosa was a commercial center of the highest order. The splendour can be seen in buildings such as the Cathedral, the noble palaces, the Episcopal Palace, the walled enclosure or the llotja (the exchange). In the 16th century Tortosa was one of the most important cities in Catalonia politically, economically and demographically.

The city has a wide range of architecture and looks. Parts of the old centre are gritty but full of life. Other sections has grand architecture of palaces, churches and other buildings. There are colours, textures and feelings in the city that made it very interesting. I ended up go back to the town three times, each time experiencing something different.

Monastery of Santa Maria de Santes Creus, the Chapter House, photo Glenn Marcus -

photos: G Marcus,

The entrance to the Chapter House of the Monastery.

Monastery Santes Creus. The monks slept in a common room.  photo Glenn Marcus,

photos: G Marcus,

With this order, the monks did not live in cells, but slept together in a large dormatory.

Monastery of Santa Maria de Santes Creus

A former Cistercian monastery, it dates back to the 12th Century. In the 13th Century Peter III or Aragon indicated he wanted to be buried in the monastery and a royal crypt was built and from there, the monastery took on a the growth to meet the needs of the burial site not only for the King, for the nobility and the significant donations received.

Unfortunately on my visit, the main large cloister was closed for restoration work. Although I could not see the large cloister, it grew to a massive site and there were much of interest.

Tivissa, Spain, photo Glenn Marcus -

photos: G Marcus,


Sometimes the events of visiting a town can have a negative impact. This was one of the first towns I drove to after arriving in Catalonia. The town has a rich history being at one time holding very important statuys. It was one of the towns on the pass of Coll de Fatxes that lead from the coastal town of Tarragona to the town of Zaragoza. The dome of the Romanesque 13/14th church caught my eye and in I drove. Only to get kinda stuck in some of the small passages. It came down to walking a block to see if I could make it, and determine where it would leave. Wallking back to the car and then slowly inching my way down. Repeat for each segment until I made it to the edge of town. When I made it out, well I was not going back in. But if we are in this area again, I will park the car outside the old town, walk in and enjoy.

Miravet Spain, photo Glenn Marcus,

photos: G Marcus,


The old town (Cap de la Vila) sits on the banks of the Ebro River with the Templar Castle above it. I parking in the lost that is a short walk from the town, after my Tivissa experience this felt good. I had a coffee in a bar and then started to walk the narrow winding passageways of the old town. I made it up the the Old Church. I did not know that you have to arrange for a tour. I saw the door open, walked in and captured the beautifully painted interior, before I was nicely told to leave. The group in the church was a pre-arranged tour.

There were some abandoned and ruin homes, and I found out later there remain from the Battle of the Ebro, the fight against Fascism, the Spanish Civil War.

It is a straight up the hill walk, although a very good path and an easy path to walk, to get to the top of the hill to see the Templar Castle. Guides say it is a 10 minute walk, for me it was a bit longer. In medieval times that path was used by knights, pilgrims, and later soldiers.

The village and the castle were founded by the Moors. In 1153 The Knights Templar rebult the castle making it a fortress-monastery.

I liked the vibe of the village, the views of the river are beautiful. The castle through the centures is a remaining structure. There are plenty of signs to inform on what the particular space you are looking at, was. Worth a visit.

photos: G Marcus,


Reus is the centre of the production of Vermouth in Spain, so yes, it was certainly on my list of places we would visit. Was I expecting vermouth booths on the street? Bottles of Vermouth in every window? Maybe, but the town by itself is very interesting. This was the birth place of architect Antoni Gaudi. There are no buildings in the town that he designed, but Modernist architecture is very present.

In 1932 Reus voted for the Republic, and five years later, Nationalist Franco bombed the city until 1939 when the rebel arm occupied the city. This next fact surprised me. They occupation remained until the death of Franco in 1975. I must admit I knew nothing about the Spanish Civil War before this trip, but its story is part of the history of so many towns.

The only day we had rain was in Reus, but after some time in a cafe things cleared we walked about the store and luckily I found many stores were selling vermouth. I went home with a couple of bottles. As well, we had a drink on the main square watching the town come out now that the weather had cleared.

Pratdip, Spain - - Glenn Marcus

photos: G Marcus,


Another of the old, important towns in the area. But today, they are quiet villages were time moves along slowly. No major tourist attractions no single sights to photography and move on. In many ways, I enjoy arriving and walking in these towns picking bits of their history as I walk along. Pratdip had numerous signs in Spanish and English giving informations about its towers, the old castle and other points of history.

The start off with the most excitement, it is the town of vampire dogs - wild dogs that at night their eyes shine as bright as fire. The dips, as they were called, chose to hide just outside the village and at night they would enter and attack the cattle and suck their blood. It is said they would also walk the streets of the village and terrify the people.

The walls of the town are gone. You do walk through archways under one of the old towers that remain making where the defence wall stood. But the goal on the visit is to make it to the top of the hill to see the remains of the castle. An easy walk and a only a few stairs to climb. You find old rock. Shapes that would be foundations for walls. Enjoy the spectacular view.

Llaberia, Spain - photo - - Glenn Marcus

photos: G Marcus,


A small village of 20 some stone houses at the end of the road in the Llaberian Mountains.

Poblet Monastery, Spain, - photo Glenn Marcus

photos: G Marcus,

photos: G Marcus,

TPeter IV of Aragon (1319 – 1387) made it a condition, under solemn oath at the moment of crowning, that all the Aragonese kings be buried at Poblet Monastery. Their king's tombs are impressive.

Poblet Monastery

This is another of the major monasteries that I wanted to visit. Its big. Not only is the monastery itself behind walls, but a fair amount of the land around the monastery walled. I was not sure if I was parking in the right place or not. Luckily, I was.

Poblet Abbey, also known as the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet is a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1151, by Cistercian monks from France. It was the first of three sister monasteries, the Cistercian triangle, that played a role to consolidate power in Catalonia in the 12th century. The other two monasteries are Vallbona de les Monges and Santes Creus. The monastery has two royal pantheons of the kngs of Aragon. Having a king backing you is a good thing and at the peak there were more than 300 monks and numerous Cistercian farms run by lay brothers.

In 1835 the monastery was closed down and after that plundered. Much was stolen and part of the monastery was destroyed by fire. But, the monastery was refounded in 1940 by monks from Italy. Near the entrance to the church one building was kept in a ruined state as a reminder of the past.