Hiking in the stunningly beautiful Catalonia
During my hiking adventure in Catalonia, I kept to the GR 5 trail. It’s a wonderful 200+ km path circling the Barcelona in a wide arch. The trail sometimes crosses with others and at times it runs hand-in-hand with another.
For quite a while the GR5 trail is joined by the Els 3 Monts trail. At one spot I had to decide if I wanted to move on along the GR 5 or if to make a detour along the Els 3 Monts to the village of Mura. In addition to possibly losing a day, I knew the trails takes you down to the valley, which meant a lot of climbing up the next day.
Is walking to Mura worth the detour?
I didn’t know much about this village. I’ve already passed by a few cute towns and didn’t think much about going off to see another one. After one of the most spectacular wild camping spots in Parc Natural de Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac (well, maybe except for the frost and wild boars visit) I went to find out if the detour is worth my time. At the Tourist Information office (Centre d’Informació del Coll d’Estenalles, grab the park’s map in pdf here), the Park Ranger convinced me to go to Mura. She even called a few places to check accommodation as it was still before the main tourist season. She said that Mura is “something else”. In a few hours, I found out she was quite right.
TIP! The Park Ranger also confirmed a very important rule: although the law in Catalonia forbids wild camping if you are a hiker and can’t make it to an accommodation before sunset – you can pitch your tent as long as you leave in the morning and leave no trace.
TIP! The Tourist Information spot is the perfect place to leave your car (there is a big parking lot) or come by bus to start your hike toward Mura. There are buses reaching this spot from Terrassa. It would be the perfect weekend getaway from Barcelona, as the walk from the TI to Mura is about 10 km one way.
The magnificent natural beauty of Parc Natural de Sant Llorenç
The weather was great, the landscapes even better, so off I went.
The hike itself toward Mura from the Park offices is just brilliant. After the initial climb, there is mostly walking flat or downhill. The ground is rocky and tricky – be careful to not lose your footings on the gravel and rocks. Words cannot describe the beauty of the surrounding area – I hope the photos can portray it at least in some way.
That’s the spot where the two trails separate. GR5 continues to the left, Els 3 Monts turns sharply right.
Even though I was hiking in mid-February, the weather was nice and warm. At times I needed a long-sleeve jacket, but most of the times I walked around in a thin long-sleeve hiking shirt. I cannot even imagine what it is like hiking there in June or July! Must be unbearably hot!
First glimpse of Mura, Catalonia.
Wandering through the cobbled streets of Mura
After the steady downhill walk, you finally catch the first glimpses of this medieval town. Nestled in a valley and partially on a hillside, it seems a natural part of the landscape. All houses are of the light brown color, so similar to the color of soil and rocks surrounding them.
A familiar view: dogs are everywhere in Catalonia!
As a town built on a mountain, there is a lot of up-and-down leading streets. Prepare for some serious walking, even if you came here by car!
I did not look into any map, I just wandered among the street going up and looking for a place to rest. I found a lovely restaurant and sat in front of it with a delicious (and cheap! only €2) cup of coffee. The town was quiet and soaked in sunlight. I can guess that in a month or two there would be many tourists walking around – but I was lucky to here in February, with just another elderly couple taking photos.
Make sure you look up!
I left my big backpack in the restaurant thanks to a very friendly waiter. Carrying only my camera I could take a closer look at this picturesque ancient town. Slowly moving from street to street I was taking in all the beautiful views. There was no street or corner that would not beg for being photographed.
Mura’s greatest treasure: Sant Marti de Mura Church
Although quite understandably the main star was the XI c. Sant Marti de Mura church. This Romanesque structure underwent a few changes but the earliest part – what is today its north aisle – is still preserved. The church’s gate opens to the west and has the typical Romanesque semicircular arch of tympanum supported with columns.
I would have spent more time in Mura, but I needed to reach one more place before the nightfall: El Puig de la Balma. This absolutely magical place, with buildings attached to a huge rock, is so unique, it deserves its own entry. Check soon to see more of it!
FYI – If you rather skip the hiking, no problem! You can get to Mura from Barcelona by train (to Terrassa) and then by a bus. A perfect day trip or weekend away from Barcelona!
Have you been to Mura, Catalonia? Would you want to go?
I hope my photos have convinced you to put Mura on your next Catalan itinerary! 🙂