Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Catalan discovery

Those who travel a lot will know how nice it is to find somewhere interesting that isn't mentioned in most of the guidebooks. On a recent trip to Barcelona, we ventured half an hour north and discovered one such place: the large town of Terrassa. Mentioned only briefly in the Catalonia version of the Rough Guide, and even then described as 'dull and industrial', we went there to visit the only site mentioned in the guide, the unique grouping of three ancient Visigothic churches, commonly known as the Ensemble of Churches of Sant Pere.

To be fair, the 'Rough Guide' did rate this as worth visiting, but what we were pleasantly surprised to find was a town that, although it did have plenty of industry, and some sprawling, dull suburbs, nevertheless had an interesting and historic core, together with some other sights well worth a visit.

Best of these was a wonderful science and technology museum (lots of buttons to press), housed in a striking and beautiful Modernista (Art Nouveau) building dating back to 1909. In fact, Terrassa is full of such buildings, including a market, and the fabulous Masia Freixa, (built 1905-1910), a white wedding-cake of a building and one of Catalonia’s most stunning examples of Modernista architecture. There are several other museums to visit, including a Textile Museum and an old castle-turned-monastery, the Carthusian Castle of Vallparadis.

It really goes to show the value of doing a little bit more digging and researching before you travel.

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