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ABOUT CATALONIA

CATALUÑA (Catalunya in the Catalan language) has a surface of 31.932 Km2 and a population of arounnd 6 million inhabitants. It has borders to the north with France and with the Principality of Andorra. To the west it is neighbour to Aragón and to the south with the Valencia region. It is located on the Mediterranan coast at the northeast corner of the Iberian península (see map on this page).

Catalunya is formed by four provinces: Barcelona, Gerona, Lerida and Tarragona. The 'Generalitat de Cataluña' is the government of the region and administrates the territory from its political center placed in the capital of the region, Barcelona city. The population is distributed in the following way: Barcelona 4.805.000 inhabitants, Tarragona 612.000, Girona 580.000 and Lleida 365.000.

• The language of Cataluña is 'Catalán' (Catalonian), a romanic language of latin roots. Spanish is also an official language in Cataluña. Catalonian literature is one of strong tradition, with great narrative and poetry (Ramon Llull, Ramon Muntaner, Josep Pla, Ausiàs Marc, Jacint Verdaguer, Joan Maragall, Josep Carner, J.V. Foix) and outstanding novel writers (Joanot Martorell, Narcís Oller, Mercè Rodoreda).

• The Artistic heritage of Cataluña is the result of the creativeness of its culture and the many historic events this region has lived: Empúries, Roman Tarragona, romanic architecture -both rural and urban-, gothic, great painters of the 19th century like Marià Fortuny, the modernista spin-off by Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner o Puig i Cadafalch, or world known artists of the 20th century like Nonell, Mir, Gargallo, Miró, Dalí or Tàpies. Cataluña has a large amount of museums that go from the famous Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, with an extraordinary collection of romanic art, to small rural ethnographic museums.

BARCELONA is a modern city, industrial, bourgeoise and European. But also traditional and flokloric. It is placed on the sides of the hills of the 'Sierra de Collserola' that slope down to the sea. We offer a vast amount of information about this city in our Softguide Barcelona.

TARRAGONA. Romans, Visigodes and Arabs settled in this city along its history, leaving behind a rich legacy of architecture and tradition as the Roman city of "Tarraco", the aqueduct, the circus or the Roman Theater, important monuments like the city defense walls, the necropolis, the cathedral, the forum or the medieval area. The inner province has two important medieval monasteries, 'Santes Creus' and 'Santa María de Poblet', that form one of Europe's most relevant medieval monastery groupings. Also the old grave building for the Kings of Aragón was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1991.

GERONA (Girona in Catalonian) It's geographic location has largely conditioned its history having been the first point of resistance to the many invasions that came from Europe until 1843. After that the defense wall started to be demolished. It is one of Catalonia's oldest cities and it has numerous monuments like its romanic-gothic cathedral, the romanic monastry of San Pedro, the church od San Nicolás, the church of Sant Feliú, the archaeology Museum or the city walls.
Figueres is a place that desderves special attention in any visit to this province. A birthplace to Salvador Dalí with an impressive museum containing works of the artist.
In the coast the town of Ampuries is an old Greek and Roman enclave that preserves incredible classic ruins. All the coastline is of astounding beauty, filled with tiny villages like Cadaqués or the larger Rosas.

LLEIDA on the side of the Segre river, Lleida emerges over a hill culminated with the 'Seo' or cathedral of the 12th and 15th centuries. The national park of 'Aigüestortes', also know as 'Estany de Saint Maurice' is one of the nature highlights in this province. It's a large park filled with tiny lakes (most of the year covered in ice that melts in Summer), that reveal its glaciar past. A great place for climbing mountains like the Subenix (nearly 3.000 metres) with different trecking posiibilities. Following the path of the park to the east you will encounter the route of Catalonian romanic, with a large French influence.

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