Marcus Travel Journal

2024 - Catalonia, Spain

Area near L'Ametlla de Mar in Catalonia, Spain



L'Ametlla de Mar

Plaza Santa Ana in Madrid

 The coastal town of L'Ametlla de Mar is a fishing port. The town has access gby the AP7 and N-340 rioads as well as the Barcelona-Valencia/Barcelona-Tortosa Regional trains.  In Barcelona the train to L'Ametlla de Mar leaves from Estació de França, Barcelona's grand station or the Passeig de Gracia station,

The coastline is 16 km and nmade up of 30 bays and beaches. 

The profile of tourists is reported to be 30% from Catalonia, 29% the rest of Spain, 28% France, 7% UK, to list the top catagories. 



 L'Amettla de Mar Villa

We have rented a villa near L'Amettla de Mar.


Montblanc, Spain

 I know Montblanc pens are not made here but I am looking forward to visiting this Medieval town that is about an hours drive from L'Ametlla de Mar.   

Montblanc is a walled mnedieval town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Park outside the town and enter through the Bover Tower GTate. St, George killed the dragon at the St. Jordi Gate so expect to see a lot of dragon themed sights!     

See the Gothic church of Santa Maria with its ornate facade.  The Romanesque Sant Miquel and the Sant Marcel contain the Museu Mares. The 13th century Els Jueus building was once Catalonia 's parliament building. Outside of the medieval walls there is an old stone bridge, a convent and the old hospital of Santa Magdalena. Walk up the hill behind the There is a mound behind the Santa Maria for a great view of the town.






 Lonely Planet recommends starting with the cathedral, then the remains of the ancient amphitheatre. The sights in Tarragona include: 

Tarragona Cathedral

The facade of the Catedral de Tarragona incorporates Romanesque and Gothic features, while chambers off the cloister display the remains of a Roman temple that were unearthed in 2015. Tours of thed rooftop are booked online (15E). The flower-filled cloister has Gothic vaulting and Romanesque carved capitals, one of which shows rats conducting a cat's funeral! There are impressive frescoes from the 14th C in the east nave.

From March to June, September and October
From Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Cathedral Belltower and Bells -

It has three sections: the first, with a square floorplan, was built towards 1200 in the time of the Archbishop Rodrigo Tello; the second –also square– dates from 1316, and is in grey dressed stone, and was financed by the prelate Gimeno de Luna. The final section was built in 1330 on the orders of the Archbishop John of Aragon.

It has a height of 70 metres and contains 19 bells cast between 1250 and 1867. The largest of all –known as the “Capona”– dates from 1509, weighs 5,188 kg and is housed in the belfry on the top. This is the bell that strikes the hours to call worshippers to prayer. There is a spiral staircase to access the bell tower and has different rooms, such as the Monks Room, Clocks Room and Bells Room. The Cathedral preserves seventeen bells and two more beside to the dome.

  • Roman Amphitheatre 
  • Pont de les Ferreres or “Devil’s Bridge” Aqueduct
  • Balcón del Mediterráneo viewpoint
  • Roman and paleo-Christian necropolis
  • Tarragona City Walls
  • Tarragona National Archaeological Museum
  • Roman Circus Roman Forum



Reus, Spain

Gaudi's City of Reus - this is the city where Antonio Gaudi was born. The city has numerous examjples of Modernista architecture, although none of the buildings in the city were designed by Gaudi.Am

When exhausted at looking at the architecture, the other major export from Reus is Vernmouth. Now that has my attention. Thee is a Vermouth Museum.   There are 30 producers of Vernouth in Reus. The famous Rofes brand was created in 1908.

Reial Monestir de Santes Creus

Santes Creus

In the town of Valls is the Santges Creus, the Reial Monestir de Santes Creus, a former Cistercvian nmonastery. This is about an hours driive from our location in L'Ametlla de Mar according to Michelin.

Reial Monestir de Santes Creus

Reial Monestir de Santes Creus

Plaça de Jaume el Just, s/n,
43815 Santes Creus, Tarragona, Spain

From Tuesday to Sunday, including public holidays.

From 1 October to 31 May: from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
The last showing of the audiovisual "The Cistercian World" es at 4.30 p.m.

Santes Creus Monastery, 1160, under the patronage of the Montcada and Cervelló houses and Count Ramon Berenguer IV. Located on banks of the River Gaià. monks, from the Occitan Abbaye de Grandselve, built monastery which, until 1835, would be the centre of one of the largest and most influential monastic domains of the Kingdom of Aragón. Its history and the Cistercian way of life are described in the audiovisual "The Cistercian World".

Height of Santes Creus splendour was the 13th and 14th centuries ass they were the favour of the royal house and nobility. Two kings, Pere el Gran and Jaume II el Just, and Jaume's queen Blanche d'Anjou chose it for their pantheon and were active protectors and patrons. Their remains lie in the church in two tombs, considered masterpieces of early Catalan Gothic and the only ones of the Kingdom of Aragón to have survived intact.

Like few Cistercian abbeys, the ground plan of the monastery follows the model drawn by St Bernard in order to organise the spaces according to the needs of the community. The austerity typical of the order is reflected in the first buildings, such as the church. But soon the splendour of the Gothic took over in spaces such as the 14th century cloister, the first in that style in the Kingdom of Aragón, remarkable for the artistic quality of the capitals and the tombs of the monarchs who took part in the conquest of Mallorca.


From the 14th century, work began 1313 under patronage of king Jaume the Just and queen Blanca d’Anjou. In 1331 of the master of works and sculptor Reinard des Fonoll arrived and knocked everything up a level. He directed the construction works for some years and took part in the carving of the capitals. In 1341 abbot Francesc Miró (1335-1347) declared to work on the cloister to be finished and consecrated it. Gothic style, richly decorated, and therefore far removed from the Cistercian concepts of simplicity and austerity. The galleries are covered by ribbed vaults and the windows, with pointed arches, are filled with splendid tracery. A description or explanation of the imagery of the capitals would be too long and complex, suffice it to say that the artistic quality of the work is very high and a large number of motifs are represented including fantastic or mythological beings, animals, Biblical scenes, heraldic elements, and a whole range of different personages. The cloister became a final resting place for noble families as a consequence of the monastery’s links with wide sectors of the Catalan nobility.

The lavabo - 12th-13th centuries A hexagonal structure covered by a six-ribbed vault. The arches are very heavily built in comparison with those of the cloister and the capitals contain sculptural decorations consisting entirely of vegetable motifs such as the leaves of water lilies. Its architectural composition and decorative austerity show it to be in the purest Cistercian style and to date from the first stage of the monastery’s construction. After work, and before entering the refectory for meals, the monks would wash their hands in the circular font located in the centre of the lavabo.

Parlour - 12th-13th centuries The parlour, or locutorium, connects the main cloister with the rear cloister. It had two main purposes being the place where the prior would meet with the community to allocate work in the fields and vegetable gardens, or tasks arising from communal life, as well as being the only place within the monastery where the monks could have brief conversations with each other (the measured and prudent use of words being recommended). The parlour is rectangular and is covered by a perfect barrel vault springing from a very simple impost. There are also two long stone benches along the walls that were formerly covered with wood.

Rear cloister 13th-17th centuries Some historical and architectural doubts still remain with regard to its construction. The floor plan is trapezoid with a colonnade of pointed arches, reflecting an earlier style. The openings in the form of windows or large oculi indicate the former existence of an upper floor. The cloister garth is adorned with a central fountain and eight tall cypress trees. The gardening project was carried out by the architect Jeroni Martorell during the period of the Mancomunitat, or Commonwealth of Catalonia. Its architecture and contents make it a place for quiet contemplation and thought and convey peacefulness and serenity.

Scriptorium 12th-13th centuries Drafting documents and copying richly illuminated manuscripts were typical tasks performed in the mediaeval monastery. Nevertheless, saint Bernard of Clairvaux laid down restrictive rules to govern this activity. These stipulated a reduction in the number of colours used, ornamentation only for initial letters and the suppression of figurative elements. The construction is rectangular in shape and covered by six bays of ribbed vaulting that spring from two large central columns. This structure is reminiscent of magnificent stone palm trees. The austerity of the decoration, the simplicity of the architectural elements and the thickness of the walls indicate a style that was still undefined, known as Transitional Romanesque. It ceased to be used as a scriptorium in the 17th century and was then used as a cellar. At the present time it is one of the rooms in which the audiovisual El món del Cister is shown and it may only be visited for this purpose.

 Santa Maria de Poblete Monastery

Santa Maria de Poblete Moneatery, Spain

 Located about an hours drive from L'Ametlla de Mar., the Monastery has royal graves and ornate cloisters.  September to June, open Monday to Saturday 10 to 12:30pm and 3:00 to 6tpm. Sundays and holidays from 10:30 to 12:30 and 3 to 6. You must wear the headphones when touring and there is an App (Problet Official Guide) which can be downloaded from the App Store.  


 Bràfim - Casa Vermouth Padró

Padró and Co - Brafim - Spain

As I continue to look into the area I am pleasantly rewarded at the history of vermouth - my drink! About an hour's drive is the Casa Vermouth Padró which includes vermouth tastings.  We are there!   

Book a Visit



Nulles Wine Cathedral

Nulles Wine Cathedral

About an hour drive is the Nulles Wine Cathedral. The history is that phyloxerra, an aphid infected the roots of Europian vineyards. The area was destroyed in the late 1860s. New roots, from North America were imported, fields dug up and vineyards replanted. The cathedral, by Cesar Martinelli i Brunet, is an example of modernist architecture, and while it looks like a church, is is built for wine production.

 The Nulles’ wine cellar, with the Cathedral, represents unity of the people of Nulles who decided to unify the resources and knowledge to create a trade union, and then build a cellar for the village, Nulles’ Wine Cathedral. This was in 1917, and the first harvest to fill the new wine tanks was in 1920.

Tasting/Tour Reservations  

Castell de Vespella

Castell de Vespella

The remains of the castle located about an hour from L'Ametlla de Mar. The castel is located just past the town of Vespella de Gaià. The castle stands on top of the hill surrounded by the church and the houses of the village. Documents dated 1167 refer to the castle, but its origin may be much earlier, around the year 1000. The castle and area passed from family to family, The Icarts, held lordship until the 17th century. Currently, only some sections of the perimeter wall and the base of a circular tower remain.

La Fontcalda

Santuari de la Mare de Deu de la Fontcalda. Thermal baths. Swimming is popular at these warm springs in a craggy ravine with hiking and biking trails. Some water routes as possible photots.  

437 780 Prat de Comte
Tarragona, Spain





Priorat Wine Region - Famous for its picturesque vineyards and wineries. (Approx. 17 km)

Sant Carles de la Ràpita - Coastal town with beautiful beaches and natural landscapes. (Approx. 41 km)

Tarragona - Known for its historical Roman ruins and coastline. (Approx. 50 km)

Delta de l'Ebre Natural Park - A unique wetland area with diverse flora and fauna. (Approx. 52 km)

Siurana - small mountain village with stunning views over the surrounding landscape. (Approx. 59 km)

Mont-roig del Camp - A town known for its connections to artist Joan Miró and beautiful landscapes. (Approx. 15 km)

Iravet - Home to a medieval castle overlooking the Ebro River. (Approx. 70 km)

Montsant Natural Park - Offers impressive rock formations and hiking trails. (Approx. 40 km)

Castell de Guimerà - A medieval castle perched on a hill. (Approx. 120 km)

Miró Centre Mont-roig - A museum dedicated to the works of Joan Miró. (Approx. 15 km)

Tortosa - A city showcasing a blend of historical and modern architecture. (Approx. 60 km)

L'Ampolla - A charming coastal town with picturesque beaches and a marina. (Approx. 16 km)