NEVER-ENDING ROWS OF FLOWERS
A journey through Les Garrigues is a journey through an amazing geographical phenomenon. It is akin to travelling through a to-scale map. Visitors will see the land laid out before them: extensive plantations, endless rows of olive trees and blossoming almond trees that burst into vivid colours, all over this arid land. Visitors will be made aware of how this extraordinary landscape marks the very limits of our tiny universe. While enjoying a quiet evening drink under the flowering almond trees, they will be able to watch the setting sun fill the horizon with its soft light and get a better idea of how important the simple things in life really are. Later, as visitors travel through the small, mountain villages, they will see how the villagers, local organisations and local councils have decorated the facades of their buildings with flowers in a show of pride in being from Les Garrigues. Here, the streets, quite literally, become one with the fields; everything is in bloom, wherever we look.
This is a land of hard work, of hot sun, and of kinship; it is a land of crushed stone, where a shared culture is the thread that unites the whole community. It is in the middle of the fields, hidden between the terraces and the orchards, that the drystone walls and vaulted shelters show the deep-seated relationship between the local people and the landscape. The simple architecture, which is seen in structures such as the retaining walls, the lime kilns, and the improvised wells, are cathedral-like monuments to the ingenuity of the local people. To find out more about the local stonework, there is no better place to visit than the village of Albi, where it is possible to find the Roca de l’Espiral (Spiral Rock): a great thousand-year-old stone that is said to emit a special energy. This is a place that has become a cult-like destination. Indeed, it is said that If you stand, barefoot, near the rock, you too will feel the force of the earth vibrating beneath your feet.
Not to be missed
Roca energètica de l’Espiral de l’Albi.
Les Garrigues en Flor (Les Garrigues in Bloom).
From mid-May to the beginning of June, at various villages in the local district.
Florida dels ametllers (Flowering of the almond trees).
February and the first weeks of March.
This is a vast territory with a small population which knows and respects this situation; in fact, this is something that gives balance and a sense of harmony to the local community. This special relationship between people and nature is most apparent at the local festivities, which have survived thanks to the combined efforts of generation after generation of Garriguencs. Nowhere is this more evident than in the silent reverence that is shown during the Processó del Desclavament i de l’Encontre (Procession of the Descent from the Cross and the Encounter), which takes place at Granadella, whose celebration has been documented since the 18th century. The people of this area are passionate about the culture that they have inherited from their forefathers and this can perhaps best be seen during the Festival de Repic de Campanes (Bell Ringing Festival). Every year, the village remembers and pays homage to the art of campanology, or bell-ringing, which for many centuries was an importance form of communication for those living on the plain.
Processió del Desclavament i de l’Encontre,
Festival de Repic de Campanes de les Garrigues.
No fixed dates.
Festa Heroica de Fulleda (Heroic Festival of Fulleda).
Second Sunday in September.
The people take to the streets during the festivities to meet and revel with friends and family; this is the heart and soul of Les Garrigues. In Les Borges Blanques, the Festa Major (Main Festival), with its Trobada de Gegants (Meeting of the Giants), is a national point of reference and an event which has been held since 1983. This is a proud day for the local people, as groups from all over Les Garrigues fill the streets and squares of Les Borges Blanques. It is easy to see why hospitality is one of the core values of this comarca (local district). This journey through the magical world of popular traditions continues. At the fortress of Els Vilars d’Arbeca, visitors will get the chance to experience the mystery of the Nit de Foc (Night of Fire). During the performances, no-one would be blamed for thinking that the ancient walls of these incredible ramparts, which were erected by the original Iberic tribes, have – albeit for just one night – become the gates of hell. Culture, in capital letters, is once again brought to the fore during the local Guitar Festival which has been attracting some of the best musicians to the comarca since 2012; this forms part of an event that has put Les Garrigues on the international map and which also offers an opportunity for the people of the local area to pay tribute to one of their own: the renowned exponent of the guitar, Emili Pujol. The local district’s festivals have something for all tastes. The musical repertoire on this trip also includes a stop at Tastjazz, at the fortress of Els Vilars, where – in the evening – this historic site is converted into an atmospheric concert venue.
Trobada de Gegants de les Borges Blanques.
On the Saturday of the Festa Major, at the beginning of September.
Nit de foc de Vilars d’Arbeca.
First Saturday in August.
July and August.
Tastjazz, at the Fortalesa dels Vilars.
First Saturday in July.
Caramelles i cant coral religiós (Religious songs).
Les Borges Blanques and Juneda. Easter.
Festival de Música Popular i Tradicional Catalana de la Granadella (Festival of Folk Music and Traditional Catalan Music).
This passion for the land has also become a devotion to food farming. Juneda offers an unforgettable day out for visitors, with its homage to the region’s agricultural past and present, as well as a lifetime’s worth of recipes, at its Concurs de Cassoles de Tros (Rural Casserole Contest). Since 1979, the village has thrown itself into an annual celebration at which snails, black puddings, beans, bacon and potatoes – some of the most treasured fruits of this land – are cooked on open fires that are lit all along the Banqueta del Canal (the Banks of the Irrigation Canal). Indeed, it is easy to see why this land and its cuisine are an inseparable combination. At the Fira de l’Oli of Les Borges Blanques (the Olive Oil Fair) and its Tres Tombs (Three Circuits) festival, visitors will be seduced by the sweetness of the liquid gold that the villages of Les Garrigues produce. Having tasted it, visitors will not want to try anything else. Having whetted people’s appetite and aroused their curiosity about the traditional dishes of this region, the Mostra Gastronòmica de les Garrigues (Les Garrigues Food Fair), which is held during the months of November and December, and the local restaurateurs will no doubt convince visitors that they will simply have to return on another occasion.
Concurs de Cassoles de Tros de Juneda.
First Sunday in June.
Fira de l’Oli and Festa dels Tres Tombs de les Borges Blanques.
The weekend after St Anthony’s Day.
Festa de la Clotxa de Bovera.
Beginning of April.
Concurs de paelles de les Borges Blanques.
Beginning of June.
Mostra Gastronòmica de les Garrigues.
Weekends throughout November and at the beginning of December.