Olot, omgeven door bevoorrechte natuur, is een stad met intense culturele activiteiten en een rijk architectonisch vermogen. De modernistische route, de interessante musea en de exquise restaurants, worden opgeteld bij het spektakel dat het Natuurpark van de Vulkanische Zone van Garrotxa biedt. Naast de vulkanen en bosrijke kraters wachten in deze unieke plaats in Spanje u ook middeleeuwse nederzettingen, geïsoleerde valleien en mensen die u graag helpen om deze geheimen te ontdekken.
Op slechts 1 uur van de Pyreneeën is Olot eveneens een goede basis om te gaan skiën. De pistes van La Molina en Vall de Núria zijn enkele van de meest noemenswaardige.
The medieval town, destroyed by the earthquakes of 1427 and 1428, was carefully reconstructed, with interlacing streets around the Plaza Mayor. The town centre houses beautiful monuments, churches and stately homes and was built around a volcano:
Montsacopa Volcano: The town is built on the sides of this volcano, as though it were some kind of supernatural attraction. At the border of the crater covered in vegetation lies the chapel of Sant Francesc, with impressive views of Olot.
Town centre: The splendid Claustros del Carme cloisters, with elegant arches on two levels, is one of the most notable Renaissance constructions in Catalonia.
In the heart of the town centre is the church of Sant Esteve, one of the emblems of the town. On the inside, two extremely important Catalan Baroque works stand out: the altarpieces of Sant Josep (1726), and Roser (1707). In the parish museum you will be able to admire an original work by El Greco, without doubt one of the treasures of this town.
Modernist route: The streets of Olot are adorned with numerous modernist constructions. The Solà Morales house, with a magnificent facade decorated with botanical motifs is probably the most beautiful of them all.
Another notable house is that of Gaietà Vila, of clear medieval influence and ornamented with vegetables, animals, dragons and wrought iron.
The Pujador house, with its Gothic tower and an imposing tribune, boasts a special elegance that speaks of a noble past.
A modernism tour of Olot cannot end without a visit to the Ferrer bakery where, as well as a beautiful wooden ceiling, you will be able to enjoy the delicious traditional confectionery.
The river Fluviá: Without doubt one of the great protagonists of the town, both for its beauty and the utility it has always had for the factories and workshops.
A stroll around the fountains of Sant Roc will take you through particularly beautiful urban scenery. Here, where the river flows under elegant trees, the bright water lilies provide a touch of colour.
In the recreational area of Els Tussols, the Fluviá flows gently until becoming the bank of a lagoon. Here people gather to practise different sports in the open air such as canoeing, archery and climbing.
Volcano Museum and Botanical Gardens: Situated in a lovely building that deserves a visit in itself, this museum is in the middle of a large park covering over 4 hectares of woodland. A didactic exhibition explains the main characteristics of La Garrotxa: the seismic and volcanic phenomena, as well as the flora and fauna of the area.
Children will enjoy the earthquake simulator, which reproduces the effects of a seismic tremble. The romantic botanical gardens that surround the museum are almost as interesting as the latter, with elements of English gardens and areas of indigenous woodland with species such as the English oak and the common box.
La Moixina wetlands: Over the years this nature reserve has been extremely popular with many painters who have tried to represent its beauty. Amidst pools and springs, arises the dense vegetation typical of this sort of ecosystems: oaks, willows and poplars. To walk around here is to enter a magical, delightful place which will awaken the romantic side of you.
Art in Olot
In the heart of a natural park like that of Garrotxa, it is also possible to enjoy art in its diverse forms.
Don’t be fooled by the plainly named Museo Comarcal de Olot. Behind its simple title and appearance, this local museum features numerous works by the Olot Landscape School, which captures the district’s social and historical evolution through its works.
You will also find some of the most outstanding Catalan artworks such as “La Càrrega”, by Ramón Casas.
Modern art enthusiasts also have a space dedicated to them, the “espai zer01”, with innovative collections by contemporary artists, and multidisciplinary works integrated into the dynamics of contemporary creation.
Castellfollit de la Roca and Besalú
Get your camera ready because these two villages are amongst the most beautiful in Spain, at the gateways of the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. Castellfollit de la Roca is remarkable for its old town, which spreads along the edge of a spectacular basalt cliff, the direct product of a volcanic eruption. The intricate inner streets never cease to surprise, with sudden viewpoints overlooking the surroundings.
The town of Besalú dazzles with its medieval and Jewish legacy: the Jewish purification baths, unique in Spain; the Sant Julià hospital, with its magnificent 12th-century façade; the Romanesque church of Sant Vicenç; and the seven-arched medieval bridge that spans the river.
Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park and surroundings: This large protected area surrounding Olot is characterised by the numerous volcanoes dotted around its geography. Populated by forests of chestnut trees, oaks, beeches, holm-oaks, poplars and hazel trees, the scenery is magical.
There is also abundant fauna: wild boars, wild cats, garden dormice, beech martens, genets, short-toed eagles, peregrine falcons and hawks, amongst others.
As a whole this is the most important volcanic area on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most significant in Europe. Below we list some of the many excursions available in the region:
From Olot to Santa Pau: This itinerary runs through woods and volcanoes and can be covered on foot or by car. First you pass through Fageda d’en Jordá: situated on the lava tongue of the Croscat volcano, it’s a unique ecosystem covered with a thick beech forest, which gives it an impenetrable, mysterious appearance.
Shortly afterwards you will come to Croscat itself, with a spectacular gash in it that reveals the interior. Very close by lies the volcano of Santa Margarida, with a meadow covering its crater and a chapel that gives it its name.
The icing on top of the cake is the town of Santa Pau. This medieval burg has several jewels of Gothic architecture such as the castle and church of Santa María, and also a beautiful porticoed square known as the ‘firal dels bous’ (cattle mart).
Vall d’en Bas: This valley surrounded by large mountains has villages, hamlets and farmsteads sprinkled all over. Its friendly inhabitants preserve their traditions with fervour. In Hostalets d’en Bas, Joanetes or El Mallol you’ll see the cobs of corn hanging from the wooden terraces, which are also decorated with geraniums. Because of its isolation, everything in this valley is close and familiar, and nature offers a contrast of unique colours and spaces.
Lost valleys of "la alta Garrotxa"
To the north of Olot there is a succession of deep valleys that combine spectacular relief with luxuriant vegetation: the immense holm-oaks and oak trees rise up imposingly and proudly towards the sky. The difficulty of access and remoteness typical of this area enhance its cultural values. The farmsteads, hamlets and stone chapels appear to be from a different age. The route can be covered by car, although if you enjoy walking, there is an infinity of paths leading into valleys and narrow gorges with rivers and natural pools.
Two routes leave from Olot. The Ferro route goes from Olot to Ripoll, passing beside a Romanesque monastery with a spectacular portal, cloister and seven apses. Along the way you will also pass by Sant Joan de les Abadesses, with a markedly medieval style, and Hogaza, a testimony of the region’s mining past.
The other route is known as Ruta del Carrilet, and runs along the old railway line between Olot and Gerona. This itinerary passes through agricultural towns and beautiful countryside. Particularly outstanding are the river Ter valley and the meadows of Salt. If you are feeling energetic enough, you can travel the 54 km that separate Olot from Gerona, and visit this interesting city.
For those who are not afraid of heights, this is a very good way of discovering the Garrotxa Volcano Natural Park. The views and the photos are unbeatable. Moreover, the ascents are usually accompanied by cava and a typical farmhouse lunch.
A little over an hour away the Gerona Pyrenees rise up. La Molina, Masella and Vall de Núria are some of the most popular resorts with enthusiasts.
Volcanic cuisine: Local caterers have not missed the sophistication train that has taken over Catalan cuisine, creating a new style that combines tradition with modern culinary concepts. In this case sophistication does not clash with good food.
The produce of the land such as wild mushrooms, truffles, beans, potatoes, corn, buckwheat, chestnuts and turnips accompany pork, wild boar or snails, guaranteeing an extraordinary gastronomic experience.
Christian Art: Olot is well-known for its beautiful nativity scene figures and the ‘Sants d’Olot’, or Olot Saints, both of which form part of what is known as Christian Art. Going shopping in this town is also closely associated to sight and smell. The bakeries will delight you with their aniseed cakes and pork ‘chicharrones’; not to forget the charcuteries with their delicious traditional sausages.
If you like markets don’t miss the one held every Saturday, when the numerous farmers from the surrounding area come to sell their produce.