The Pyrenees is the mountain chain that separates our country from France along 425 kilometres, the mountain range that divides the Iberian peninsula from the rest of Europe, and the one that has the highest number of peaks rising to more than 3,000 metres above sea level (213, the best-known being Aneto, Mont Perdut, Posets, Maladeta, Pica d’Estats, and so forth). Although not as high, there are other marvellous symbolic mountains such as Puigmal, Pedraforca, Montardo and Mauberme. It is a marvellous natural setting that is host to three National Parks and a large number of natural, biological and wildlife reserves that conserve and protect it, as shown by the great ecological interest of the region. What makes the Pyrenees different from the Alps is the number of lakes and mountain cirques (circles or rings) of glaciar origin that we find there, the best known being the Cirque de Colomers and the Cirque de Saboredo, Sant Maurici Lake, Cregueña Lake, and others.
Also in the Catalan Pyrenees we find beautiful valleys, ones that differ markedly from each other, ranging from the Vall d’Aran, which follows the course of the River Garonne, the only river whose waters flow into the Atlantic, lending the valley its Atlantic climate, unlike the other parts of the Pyrenees valleys with their Mediterranean climate. The Vall d’Aran, green, intensely green, with majestic woods and surrounded by high peaks, also contains the country’s largest ski station, Baqueira–Beret.
The Vall de Boí has Europe’s most important group of Romanesque churches: Sant Climent de Taüll, Santa Maria de Taüll, Sant Joan de Boi, Santa Eulalia d’Erill la Vall and Sant Feliu de Barruera; Declared World Heritage Sites by Unesco, they are all fantastic places whose Romanesque paintings are kept at the Museu Nacional de Catalunya in Barcelona.
The Vall d’Àneu, following the course of the River Noguera Pallaresa and with its towns dotted about the valley, evidences the economic importance the Comptat del Pallars had in the Middle Ages, offering a historical and cultural tour of a privileged natural setting.
The awe-inspiring Parc Nacional d’Aigües Tortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, with its lakes and major peaks, offers a beautiful and respected setting in which mountain lovers can find endless numbers of routes for hiking or mountain biking, as well as the ‘Carros de foc’ circular route.
La Cerdanya, a broad-sweeping trans-frontier valley englobing the French and Catalan Cerdagne/Cerdanya, is surrounded by symbolic peaks such as Canigó, Puigmal, Carlit and Cadí, among others. Only 150 kilometres from the city of Barcelona, it is among the favourite summer-holidaying places of the Barcelona bourgeoisie, with delightful houses (many of them second homes) in very well-cared-for villages and offering an extensive range of services: golf courses, ski resorts, shopping centres, and much cultural activity, particularly in the summer, when each town has its concerts, exhibitions, talks, etc.
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