Lleida and Manresa are in the interior of Catalonia, and are ideal for a relaxed visit. In both cases a neat and tidy old town centre that is rich in heritage complements the new part of the town offering leisure activities and bustling shopping streets
Lleida, a surprise at every step
Lleida is a city that has a valuable historical and artistic legacy. There are a variety of monuments in differing styles from Roman remains through medieval constructions to Modernist houses. The thirteenth century cathedral in the city known as the Seu Vella is a Gothic-Romanic edifice that stands on a hill of the same name, and rises above the city and its surrounding farmland.
The area is enclosed by the longest city wall in Europe and is one of the best- conserved examples of Gothic-Romanic architecture in Catalonia.
The river Segre divides the city in two. On its wide banks are parks with shady trees providing welcome coolness on hot summer afternoons. The pioneering architecture of the Llotja contrasts with the Centre d’Interpretació de l’Orde del Temple in the castle of Gardeny.
Lovers of Romanic art should visit the Museu de Lleida, which has an interesting collection of retablos, religious figurines and prehistoric objects.
Lleida is 180 km from Barcelona, and is very well connected with several high-speed trains per day, and can also be reached by plane via Alguaire airport.
Manresa, a historical city
Manresa is the capital of the Bages region that is becoming increasingly popular with visitors. The best way to discover its heritage is by means of guided tours, and a route through the city will take us to the Gothic basilica of Santa María de la Seu, to the medieval streets of the old quarter, to the Baroque architecture of some of its buildings and to the Modernist palaces of the last century.
One of the most impressive routes for visitors is the “Ruta Ignaciana”, which follows the footsteps of San Ignacio de Loyola, who stayed in the city in 1522. This mystical saint, formerly a soldier, was born into a family of nobility in Paris. At the age of 30 and after a somewhat turbulent life, he had a vision that led him to embark on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. What remains of this now in Manresa are what is known as “holy places”.
He lived in a small cave facing the river Cardener for ten months, where he was inspired to write his “Spiritual Exercises”. A church was built on the site in the eighteenth century and is a remarkable example of the architectural style of the Jesuits. The inside of the cave is composed of one singular space with strikingly rich decoration. San Ignacio de Loyola was the founder of the Compañía de Jesús.
Manresa is 67 km from Barcelona by motorway.
The FGC trains connect both cities several times per day (www.fgc.es).