La Seu D’Urgell, Catalonia - Spain
La Seu d’Urgell is located in the Catalan Pyrenees of northeast Spain very close to the French border. The town had a unique and historic role in this county as all the roads from Andorra, Low Segre and Cerdanya converged into it. For 700 years the bishops of La Seu d’Urgell were also joint ruler of nearby Andorra.
Tucked in between the Segre and Valira rivers that merge into one, it is well placed for ski resorts being so close to both the Catalan and Andorra Pyrenees mountains. The Parc Olimpic del Segre was built for the Barcelona Olympics and is where the kayak and canoe events took place. For all those canoeing enthusiasts, the world famous canoeing championships take place during the summer on the Segre River.
La Seu d’Urgell always has something special taking place throughout various times of the year. On a weekly basis, every Tuesday there is a traditional market on the main street. The International Music Festival Joan Brudieu takes place during the Summer. There is also the Mercat Medieval dels Canonges, a street festival of theatre, circus, and falconery which guarantees to be entertaining.
In October the Sant Ermengol Fair takes place, the oldest in Catalonia, as well as the Pyrenees hand-made cheese Fair. Both will provide you with a wonderful opportunity to taste the wines and cheeses of this region.
The most important street in La Seu d’Urgell is the Passeig de Joan Brudieu, which separates the old town from the new one. A good place to start your tour of the town should begin with a visit to the Episcopal Palace and the Church of Sant Miguel dating back to 1035 and is the only remaining church that was built by Sant Ermengol himself.
In the historic quarter is the Diocesan Museum with wonderful examples of medieval paintings and sculptures. The streets of the old quarter are lined with beautiful old mansions and arches. However, the main attraction is the Italian-influenced Romanesque Cathedral. The Bishop Ermengol began work on the Cathedral in the 11th century, unfortunately it was knocked down fifty years later. It was not until the following century that the cathedral you see today was eventually completed.
Next to the Cathedral is the Parador Hotel La Seu d’Urgell which has incorporated cloisters from the Renaissance period. Many of the rooms have views of the mountains, and indeed the restaurant specialises in traditional mountain dishes, which include trout and game meat. There is also a gymnasium, heated swimming pool, and sauna to relax in after a busy day of sightseeing.
If you wish to explore the area beyond there are many places of interest. Near the Andorra border is the Cadi-Moixero Nature Park, which is not only a place of outstanding natural beauty, but declared a special sanctuary for the protection of their wide range of birds. In the mountains that run parallel with the Valira River you will find two great fortresses, the Ciutat and Cuitadella Castles, both of which are worth a visit.
The nearest airport is in Barcelona so you have three options with regard to getting to La Seu d’Urgell; either by train and taxi or hiring a car. Certainly the latter will give you the freedom to explore the countryside, not to mention enjoying the scenic drive getting there!