Day trips in Catalonia: Sant Joan de les Abadesses

Sant Joan de les Abadesses is one of many wonderful, small and less known places to visit in Catalonia. It is situated about 120km north of Barcelona, near the French border in the Ripollès county. Although the town is located in the valley the river Ter, it lies 775m above sea level. This very river and the surrounding mountains make for a beautiful setting and countryside that attracts mountain bikers and hikers.

The town itself has a sleepy, romantic and very rural atmosphere and is best known for its monastery for nuns that was founded by Guifré el Pilós  (“Wilfred the Hairy”) around 880 whose daughter Emma was the monastery’s first abbess. The monastery is what gave the town part of its name (de les abedesses). In 1017 the pope accuses the nuns of turmoil and they had to leave. Later, Augustinian monks took over.

Blog_StJoandelesAbadesses_ClaustreThe monastery’s garden: A naturally quiet and beautiful place. 

Nowadays the monastery is a tourist destination that includes a small museum. The monastery’s church is quite simplistic and almost a little gloomy inside. It features a different beautiful statures but the most impressive peace is a carving Santissimi Misteri of lay brother Dulcetus that dates back as far as 1251.

Blog_StJoandelesAbadesses_Santissimi_MisteriSantissimi Misteri by Dulcetus: The carving shows the realistic visualisation of a heroic szene without any pomp.

Crossing the river Ter is  another picturesque sight: the Pont vell (“old bridge”). This bridge in gothic style dates back to the medieval ages.

Blog_StJoandelesAbadesses_pont_vellThe old bridge, Pont vell. The ascend/descend is steeper than it looks here. 

If you are a fan of more active tourism there are a myriad of biking and hiking trails, the most popular being the Ruta de ferro i de carbó (“Iron and coal route”). It connects Ripoll with the mines of Ogassa and the total length is 12km. Sant Joan de les Abadesses is situated in the middle of the route.

Close to the route and Sant Joan de les Abadesses there is a magical place called Gorg de la malatosca. This waterfall is said to have been the meeting place of witches and other mysterious beings. As legend has it, one of the witches was about to have a child and therefore a midwife from the town was called for help. As a reward for her help, the midwife got a handful of lentils from the witches. Furious, the midwife through them into the river Ter. The next morning, when putting on her apron, she noticed that one of the lentils had stuck to it and turned to gold.

Blog_StJoandelesAbadesses_Gorg_de_la_MalatoscaIt really is a place with a magical touch. Note the small cave on the left of the waterfall (right of the tree).

2 Responses to “Day trips in Catalonia: Sant Joan de les Abadesses”
  1. Tourareas says:

    Thanks for your grateful informations, am working in Tourism Portal, so it will be helpful info for my works.

  2. like says:

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this web site before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

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