Some days ago we had the opportunity to visit Siurana during our Easter break. Siurana (also called Siurana de Prades) is a nice village located in the municipality of Cornudella de Montsant, in the Tarragona province. It is part of the Priorat region, the land that produces the well-known wine that is traded from Catalonia to the world.
We had always seen Siurana in photos: that fantasy village located at the top of a cliff (more than 700 metres high), with amazing views to the Montsant mountains, a place highly visited by rock climbers. So we couldn’t wait to plan a visit to the village and its region. You will also see a water reservoir placed at Siurana’s feet where you can practise some aquatic activities.
Nowadays, you will see that the Romanesque church of Santa Maria de Siurana stands out in the skyline. However, Siurana was the last Moorish bastion in Catalonia, and they say that knights of four counties were needed to conquer the village. In view of its incredible location, it’s easy to understand why.
Thus, in Siurana you can find the rests of a Moorish castle that was built in the IX century, during the occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. But its monitoring function was especially important as from the XI century, when the count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer I, tried to conquer the city of Tarragona. Then, Moorish people had to move to the mountains, to safer fortifications. The Siurana Castle exercised its control over a vast territory which included most of the current Priorat as well as part of neighbouring regions, with many towers that formed a line of defence.
But in 1151 Christians were surrounding the Xibrana Emirate and its fall was just a matter of time. It is said that the Siurana Castle was conquered between 1153 and 1154. And of course, a few later the Romanesque church was founded, to show that Christianity had returned to that land.
As usual, a legend is related to that day when Xibrana fell to Christians’ domains. They say that Abd-el-Azia was the beautiful queen of Siurana when a Jewish traitor gave the keys to the Castle to the Christians, who found in that strategy the only way to conquer the village. Abd-el-Azia was having a party in the Castle when the betrayal took place and an arrow crossed the window and reached the table. It was too late and the queen didn’t want to be defeated by the enemy. So she got on her white horse and she threw herself through the cliff. The legend says that in that cliff, called “Salt de la Reina Mora” (which means the Jump of the Moorish Queen), you can still see the horse footprints that remind of the tragic end of Abd-el-Azia.
And after that walk through the village you may be hungry. In that case, you would be pleased to know that the Refugi Ciríac Bonet (a sort of shelter) has recently enabled a terrace where you can eat or have a drink unpretentiously, but with amazing views to the Montsant mountains. We’ve been reading that the construction of such terrace over the rock has been a bit controversial with the entities devoted to environmental preservation, but the truth is that for the time being it’s a great place, so if you visit Siurana take profit of it!
We would definitely say that Siurana is one of the most beautiful villages in Catalonia and a must-stop in the trip through Priorat that any wine lover should do once in a lifetime. Moreover Siurana can be reached with a two-hour drive from Barcelona, so there is no excuse for missing it!