Hiking Serra de Montsant-Muntanyes de Prades


A five day hiking trail in the Serra de Montsant, the Catalonia and Tarragona region

A 5 day hike through the Serra del Montsant in the provinces of Catalonia and Tarragona, the district of Priorat, southwest of Barcelona, partly via the GR 171. At Easter mostly beautiful (bearable) weather. The route offers a nice combination of culture and nature. And also: brisk walking, breathtaking views, huge gorges, gorge-dry plateaus, good food and Mediterranean medieval atmospheres.
Steep walls mark the border of the area, with narrow zigzagging paths running up to take you to the plateau.
At altitude, you have views of the white peaks of the Pyrenees and the blues of the Mediterranean.

Getting there: a flight to Barcelona City of Reus (near Tarragona). From Barcelona airport (T2) you take the train to Barcelona-Sants, and from here the train to Vimbodi (2,5 hrs) . During the train travel you already get a good impression of the walking area.
Accommodation: hotels on trail. At Easter perhaps many hotels are fully booked. The local hotel owner can arrange your next hotel on trail. The Siurana hotel is rather expensive, but here you stay in a superb place.
It is forbidden to camp in Serra de Montsant.
Maps: Serra de Montsant - Hiking map Catalonia 1:20.000 - Editorial Piolet. And: Muntanyes de Prades, 1:25.000 - Editorial Piolet. Local tourist offices offer  descriptions of local footpaths. So you can make your own trail.
Indication of height: 300-1200 m. (day 2) .The height differences are easy to take, except perhaps those between Montblanc and Rojals.

April  2015: a 5 day hiking trip in a rough and impressive mountain landscape. At this time of year still few hikers.

Day 1: Vimbodi - monastery of Poblet - Montblanc        
            the GR171…………………………………………………...16km
Day 2: Montblanc - Rojals with a taxi
            (fantastic views) - Rojals - Prades
            the GR171…………………………………………………...18km
Day 3: Prades - Siurana
            description of local footpaths…..…...……….......13km
Day 4: Siurana - Cornudella de Montsant
            (partly by GR174) - Morera de Montsant.….….20km
Day 5: Morero de Montsant - Cartoixa d’Escaladei -
            La Vilella Alta - La Vilella Baixa                                              
            the GR171 to Cartoixa d’Escaladei......…….….…21km

Taxi to Falset. From here the train to Tarragona (by Reus) and Barcelona. About 2 hrs.

On the Trail: The Serra de Montsant is teeming with real hiking trails. Both the GR 171 and our own chosen routes were well marked. Many texts are indicated in both Spanish and Catalan. Montblanc and Prades have lively central compact squares with terraces, some villages (like Morera de Montsant) seem extinct in the spring. Along the way you will not always come across villages, stores or restaurants to buy anything. Bring plenty of provisions and 2 liters of water p/p.And also recommended: a compass. You will pass through lonely, desolate regions. Report at departure where you are going that day.

On Day 1, the Monastery of Poblet in Catalonia, one of the largest and most complete Cistercian abbeys in Spain. Including an alabaster retable (1527-1529). The monastery is located on the GR 175, which is 105 kilometers along three Cistercian monasteries and many other architectural highlights. Not too hard (so they say) through a beautiful landscape.
Siurana is such a beautiful village in the mountains and attracts so many visitors that the village does not wish to participate in the election "most beautiful village in Spain" (Los Pueblos más Bonitos de España). The village was built in the eighth century (!) and can be reached by car; do walk the last meters. The views are really fantastic and who doesn't want to see that? The Moors lasted the longest here, which is understandable given the entourage.

Day 5, the Cartoixa d'Escaladei, a monastery, under restoration, where monks developed the cultivation of wine for centuries. The monastery was founded in 1163 at the request of King Alphonso ! with the intention of Christianizing Catalonia and freeing it from the Muslims. In this place, because a shepherd here had a vision of angels going to heaven on a ladder. The Muslims were defeated but in the 19th century the monks were expelled by the state. And the local farmers knew what to do with all those materials that were priceless to them. Hence the restoration, now.

La Vilella Alta ( founded in 1286!) - you will walk through it as a hiker in the year 2000 and beyond - is built against a hill. In the valley of Escaladei. When you arrive here you know again why hiking is so beautiful: the surprise. So let yourself be surprised here!
La Vilella Baixa, another town with narrow, steep streets, a Romanesque bridge over the Montsant River and several vineyards. As it was a few hundred years ago, so it still is! Delicious! ( also the wine).
Cartoixa d’Escaladei. Yet another extraordinary discovery. With a monastery dating back to 1194. To be reached after a hike through an overwhelming environment! What more could you want as a hiker?

For lovers, the region is home to excellent deep red, almost black wines. Delicious!
Scenically, we thought this tour definitely ended up in our top ten.

In short: you don't read or hear much about it, but the Serra del Montsant is highly recommended!

In our opinion this trail is in our top 10 !!

More photos of the Priorat scenery.

Below some nice pictures of Siurana and surroundings: