Catalonia (Cataluña in spanish) is an autonomous community of Spain located in the extreme north east, between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. It borders on France and Andorra at the north, on Aragon at the west, on Mediterranean Sea at the east, and on Valencian Community at the south. It is an autonomous “country” with its own identity and language.
The origin of the word “Catalonia” is uncertain, some people say it means “castle’s land”, for the many castles built during the Middle Ages; others say it comes from “Gothland” which means “land of the Goths” because of the Visigothic populations settling in this area in the medieval period; another theory associates it to “Talunya’s Castle”, a place that lies between Lleida and Huesca, near the current Monzón; and finally other theories suggest that the word comes from a mythical Alemanian prince, Otgero Cataló, or from the word Lacetans, the name of an ancient tribe inhabiting these lands.
Catalonia has undergone various occupations over the centuries by Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs, making it one of the most cosmopolitan places in Spain.
It enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate, although in certain areas of the community, for example on the Pyrenees, there may be very low temperatures while at the same time on the coast you may have very high temperatures. And it is a top destination for the great natural beauty it possesses.

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Natural parks and reserves
The natural parks of Catalonia are:

  • High Pyrenees Natural Park
  • Marshes of Emporda
  • Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park
  • Cap de Creus
  • Els Ports
  • Montseny
  • Montserrat
  • Sant Llorenç del Munt
  • Serra de Montsant
  • Garrotxa Vulcanic Zone.

Catalonia also has a nature reserve, the Llobregat Delta, and a marine reserve, the Illes Medes.

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Beaches
The Costa Brava is a part of the coastal area of Catalonia very popular for its beautiful beaches. Las Islas Medas is an archipelago of 7 islets known for its seabed that attracts many visitors and experts throughout the year.
Among the most beautiful beaches of the Costa Brava:

  • Cala de Sa Tuna
  • Somorrostro Beach
  • S’Alqueria beach
  • Castelldefels Beach
  • Aiguablava beach

The Costa Dorada also has beautiful beaches and blue flags:

  • Cap Roig (L’Ampolla)
  • Coma-Ruga (El Vendrell)
  • Santes Creus (l’Ametlla de Mar)
  • Torn beach (L’Hospitalet de l’Infant)
  • La Pineda (Vila-seca)
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Historical and archaeological monuments
El Ampurdán is an area less known by tourists, but it houses several archaeological treasures such as: Empúries, whose name means picking point of goods; and the ciudadela de Rosas, a walled enclosure that used to protect the city of Rosa.
Another archaeological site of great importance is that of Tarraco (Tarragona) an ancient Roman city.
In the provinces of Lérida and Girona there is a high concentration of monuments and two beautiful examples are the monastery of Santa María de Ripoll and the church of Sant Climent de Taüll.

Among the other monuments and sites of historical and cultural importance there are:

  • Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes
  • Peralada medieval settlements
  • Monuments of Sant Feliu de Guíxols
  • The small village of Cadaqués, where there is a museum house of Salvador Dali
  • The city of Figueras, birthplace and death of Salvador Dalí
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UNESCO World Heritage Site in Catalonia:

  • Romanesque churches of Vall de Boí
  • Parc Guell, Casa Milá, Palau de la Música, Hospital de Sant Pau (Barcelona)
  • Montseny Natural Park
  • Tarragona archaeological site

Sports activities
In the Catalan community there are several open-air activities:

  • Trekking
  • Bike paths
  • Birdwatching
  • Golf
  • Boating and other water sports
  • Skiing
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Cities of Catalonia to visit
Girona is a city that retains a Jewish quarter in its historic center, but also elements of Arab origin such as baths and art galleries.
Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan community that has a lot to offer to the visitor. In the Eixample district you can find some of the most famous streets and squares of the city: the Passeig de Grácia, where you can see the architecture of Gaudí, the Rambla, the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Milá, the Casa Batlló.
Another place to visit in Barcelona is Park Guell, a mountain located in the Pelada urban park, where Gaudí utilized revolutionary techniques to create a unique space. The city’s tourist center is Las Ramblas, a lively street that goes from Plaza de Catalunya to the ancient port. The Feria de Sant Jordi, April 23rd, is a good opportunity to visit the city and get to know a traditional festival where you can buy books and roses.

The Sagrada Familia
It is an impressive architectural work designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, it is a great Catholic basilica still under construction, the symbol of the city.

Gastronomy
Catalan cuisine is very varied and offers tasty dishes of meat and fish: butifarra with alubias, chicken and turkey stuffed with plums and pine nuts, liver with onion; dried salted cod cooked with salsa “alioli”, anchovies, eels, stuffed squid. Among the traditional desserts there is the famous Catalan Cream, Nougat, Easter Moth, Orelletes, Panellets, Pastissets. The most well-known wine in the region is the Penedes quarry.

Traditions and folklore
Among the most well-known events of the Catalan community there are the correfocs, where people dressed like “devils” dance and jump among the artificial fires. A tradition of the Tarragona region is represented by the colles castelleres, groups of people who form human towers. Then there is the carnival of Vilanova, Geltrú and the Berum Patum.