Touching the sky at Siurana

Siurana, is a hidden, breathtaking and unexpected place, located on top of a massive cliff overlooking  the muscular Serra de Monsant and the rising mountains of Prades.

Located 770 meters above the sea it can be reached from Tarragona following a 50 minute journey  by car , up the steep winding road leading to Cornudella de Montsant, and then further up, to the ancient remains of  castle of Siurana.

Built by the Moors as a formidable defensive lookout, it was the last bastion in Catalonia to fall against the Christian insurgence,  conquered around 1153- 54 by the  troops of  of Ramon Berenguer IV.  Legend has it that the resident Moorish queen choose to jump to her death instead of falling  into the enemy’s hands. She mounted her horse which, at the sight of the chasm below, refused move;  hurried on it lost its grip,  plunging with the queen to his death. Look close at the area known as “Salt de la Reina Mora”  and you will see the marks of the hooves which the terrified horse left etched in the rock.

Behind the ancient ruins of the castle lies the village of Siurana known for its productions of honey and organic medicinal herbs. Build from local stone (probably salvaged from the crumbling castle) this is one of the most scenic spots in the whole of Catalonia.  Walk by the ancient, perfectly preserved,  romanic church of Santa Maria which dates from the twelfth century, and you reach the edge of the cliff and breathtaking views of a landscape strangely reminiscent of the Blue Mountains in Australia.

The quiet  village is a spiritual hub for rock climbers with several dwellings converted into restaurants and bars and there is even a perfect little hotel. According to a born and bred local, dictator Franco, who had no romantic feelings for Catalonia whatsoever,  had drawn up plans to flatten the village and convert the area into an army camp with barracks set to replace the vernacular dwellings. Thankfully this did not happen and the intrinsic beauty of  Siurana  lives on attracting visitors from all over the world. It has even an asteroid named after featuring, perhaps, a little cafe overlooking the universe.

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