The Portolà family line

A route through the most representative places associated with the movements of the Portolà family through the Lands of Lleida to learn about the origins the man who discovered Alta California.


Arties - Castellnou de Montsec - Àger - Os de Balaguer - Balaguer - Lleida (192 km)

Gaspar de Portolà i Pont, the great-grandfather of Gaspar de Portolà i Rovira (the discoverer of Alta California), was the founder of the Portolà family line. He was a Doctor in Law, from Barcelona, and put together a plan to climb the social ladder, thanks to his influence within the Catalan nobility. The family gradually extended its patrimony, from its original house in Arties (Val d'Aran) to property in the Àger valley, and in other places such as Castelló de Farfanya, Balaguer, Lleida and El Pla d'Urgell. The properties in Àger were to serve a base for the family’s definitive settlement in the town of Balaguer, in 1616, with the family home being in the Plaça Mercadal square. During the War of Succession, the father of the great explorer: Francesc de Portolà, had to flee to the monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès, where he married Teresa de Rovira. Then several years later, Gaspar de Portolà was born at the castle of Os de Balaguer.





The location of the original house of the Portolà family, who were members of the agricultural nobility of Lleida. At present, the house is a National Parador Hotel. Outside the building, it is also possible to visit the statue dedicated to Portolà, the Baroque-style chapel dedicated to Sant Antoni de Pàdua, and a famous painting of the great explorer. The Fonda Portolà inn still exists in Arties, where it is managed by descendants of the family.



This was the seat of the Barony of Castellnou de Montsec, the noble title that Carlos II bestowed upon Gaspar de Portolà i Pont, the great-grandfather of the explorer, whose body is buried in this municipality. The family also has its pantheon here, decorated with its coat of arms. Outside the church of Sant Esteve, a statue commemorates the discovery of Portolà.



The Portolà family lived in this municipality before it definitively settled in Balaguer. It was from here that it continued to increase its patrimony within the river basin of the Noguera Ribagorçana. At number 23 Carrer Sant Martí, it is still possible to see the façade of the family house.



Gaspar de Portolà i Rovira was born in this municipality in La Noguera, in 1716. The family lived in the castle after its return from Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona), where it had taken refuge from the supporters of King Felipe.



The family settled in Balaguer in 1616. However, the place where the family used to live, in the Plaça Mercadel, no longer exists. It was demolished in order to open the square to the River Segre. In the town, it is possible to visit the monument dedicated to the great explorer and also the Espai Portolà, where there is a permanent exhibition about his life and time.



This is the city where Gaspar de Portolà settled after his return from America and where he lived until his death. From 1786 onwards, Portolà held the position of King's Lieutenant and participated in debates as the representative of the monarch before La Paeria (Lleida City Council). The remains of the explorer lie in the church of Sant Pere Apòstol and the legacy of his will was used to build the Casa d'Expòsits i Misericòrdia, which is now the Palau de la Diputació de Lleida (the seat of the Provincial Government).



The artistic wealth of the Val d'Aran is one of the best kept treasures of the Pyrenees. In general, the Romanesque art and architecture of the valley is characterised by the good state of the mural paintings of its churches. This heritage includes a wealth of ornamental sculpture and a series of belfries that are immediately identified with the villages of the Val d’Aran.