Today, while resting with a cup of coffee in my parent’s home, I thought that it was time to write a post about my village, Arbúcies (Catalonia). Ten years ago I (Laura) moved to Barcelona to start my university studies but I love going back to my village some weekends to gather a bit of strength for Mondays. 🙂
Now that we are busy planning our wedding, we have visited several bridal exhibitions in the Girona province, what has reminded us of the beauty of this area. Countryside, rivers, mountains, my village is surrounded by all of that.
Arbúcies is located in the Catalan province of Girona, within the Natural Park of Montseny. Montseny is a massif located north of Barcelona. Most hotspots of this massif can be reached between 1 hour and 1 hour and a half driving from Barcelona, so it is a good daytrip if you are visiting the city.
The highest peaks in the massif are Turó de l’Home (1,712 m), Les Agudes (1,703 m by the way, located in the municipality of Arbúcies) and Matagalls (1,697 m). A good destination if you love hiking!
On the contrary, Arbúcies is only 291 m high, placed in a valley at the feet of Les Agudes peak. It only has around 6,400 inhabitants, but it is a vibrant village with festivals all around the year. “Tió de Nadal” (the Catalan Christmas Log) for the children at Christmas Eve, Carnival in Winter, the “Enramades” (the most loved festival by local people) in Spring, the village festivity in Summer (“Festa Major”). And in Autumn, which is my favourite season, mushrooms and chestnuts in the streets.
In my opinion, the best viewpoint of the village is at the end (or the beginning if you prefer it) of the Magnes Street. I like sitting in a bench there while looking at the view of the bell tower and Les Agudes peak. It is my favourite picture of Arbúcies.
Another hotspot is at the main square (“Plaça de la Vila”). There, a huge tree, called the Freedom Tree (“Arbre de la Llibertat”), is the king of the square in which a weekly market occurs every Sunday. The tree was planted in 1873 to celebrate the September Revolution of 1868, the first attempt to establish a democratic regime in Spain. Later, the royal army tried to pull up the tree but fortunately the local priest persuaded them to leave the tree in place. That priest that offered mass in the local church, devoted to Sant Quirze and Santa Julita (in English, Cyricus and his mother Julitta).
But if you are looking for another good viewpoint, head to the Sagrat Cor (Sacred Heart) hill, where a Christ sculpture, placed in a forest, watches over the whole village. In fact, forests surround the village everywhere. And our favourite one is the forest that surrounds the Arbúcies river (“La Riera”). It is our favourite place to walk around. We go there, sit over a rock and listen to the sound of the water. Sometimes, in Summer, we take off our shoes and delve into the river. The trees are so green and high that create a very special environment.
In fact, the river is the favourite place for locals and foreigners to switch off or have a picnic. From there, some good treks depart. Also, in the surroundings of the village you will find the Montsoriu Castle, a Gothic castle founded in the X century and which is home of some weird legends that have passed from generation to generation. Maybe someday we will write a post about hiking to the top of the hill in which it is located. 🙂
And last but not least I must explain the best local festival, called “Enramades”. It happens every year for the Corpus Christi religious festivity (May or June depending on the year). “Enramades” literally means “decorated with branches” and this is what people do in the streets. Lots of floral designs and garlands decorate the façades of Arbúcies.
On Sunday, some streets are covered by carpets made of natural flowers. People work all the morning to complete the most original designs and later, in the afternoon, they are trodden by the “gegants” (giants), which are large figures often representing monarchs, nobles and countrymen dressed in traditional clothing. Carpets that require days of work but whose beauty only lasts some hours.
Upon the following Thursday, the festival continues. Each of the 5 quarters in which the village is divided celebrates its feast day with a night march bringing lit candles. The following day, at midday, people circle in pairs, from little children to elders, at the rythm of a traditional song. Without doubt, the most appreciated festival for the Arbúcies inhabitants, who will keep passing all the related traditions to the future generations!