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Escaping Modernisme: Castles & Historic Architecture Near Barcelona

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When you're finally fed-up with Modernisme, spend a day away from Gaudí and company. A short trip from Barcelona, you can explore Catalonia's medieval and ancient history by touring crumbling castles, imposing fortresses and well-preserved Roman ruins, not to mention historic cathedrals and monasteries. There are even some castles that have been turned into accommodations for travelers.
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The ruins of Castell de Sant Salvador are a great place for a picnic with a view of the bay in the distance.
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Av. Costa Brava, 25, 17320 Tossa de Mar, Girona, Spain
Unlike many of the neighboring towns along Spain's Costa Brava, the fishing village of Tossa de Mar has managed to retain its simple, distinctly laidback charm. The narrow, cobbled streets of the old town still house funky paella dens and outdoor...
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Templo Romano, 08500 Vic, Barcelona, Spain
A short walk from Vic's Plaça Major on Pare Xifrer street, check out this 2nd century Roman temple discovered in 1882 underneath an 11th century castle.
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Carrer de Sant Magí, 1, 43004 Tarragona, Spain
Explore the Roman forum, the circus, the amphitheater and much more. Feel like in Italy but without the crowds!
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Carrer de la Força, 4, 17004 Girona, Spain
Walk along the ramparts of Girona's Força Vella, or "Old Fortress." The crumbling 1st century B.C. Roman walls are even more impressive after sunset, when they seem to suddenly appear around a corner, shrouded in shadows and mist.
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Camino del Monasterio, s/n, 08917 Badalona, Tarragona, Spain
There's much dispute in Europe about where exactly Columbus is from--fortunately it's much easier to confirm where exactly he went. One of those places was Sant Jeroni de la Murtra Monastery, where he met up with the Catholic Monarchs after his...
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17534 Queralbs, Girona, Spain
Built in 978, ransacked during the Spanish Civil War and finally restored in the twentieth century -- Església de Sant Jaume de Queralbs is one of the oldest surviving Romanesque churches in Spain. It is worth a visit in and of itself, to the...
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Carretera Circumvallació, S/N, 17834 Porqueres, Girona, Girona, Spain
Tucked away from the town centre, all but abandoned, this 12th century church in Porqueres is an ideal place to sit down and be alone with your thoughts. The arches and arabesques of its Romanesque architectures are beautiful and soothing.
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Plaça Font del Lleó, 08140 Caldes de Montbui, Barcelona, Spain
Spend a relaxing day exploring Caldes de Montboi, home to one of the hottest hot springs in Europe--the water comes out of the ground here at a piping hot 74ºC. Snap shots of elaborate mosaics in the city's historic Roman baths, stroll across an...
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Castell d'Empordà, s/n, La Bisbal 17115, 17115 Castell d'Empordà, Girona, Spain
Who hasn't dreamed of sleeping in a castle? In Costa Brava, Spain's rugged coast north of Barcelona, you can. Castell d'Emporda is a 14th-century castle that's been converted into a hotel and restaurant. The castle was once a mighty fortress in...
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08199 Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain
We took the train out of Barcelona, heading north to the Monastery of Montserrat. After exiting the funicular railway, we found the light to be shining through the portico walkway, leading us to a wonderful church with heavenly music from the boys...
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Lleida, Spain
My decision to go to Lleida was simply random. We boarded the first train out of Barcelona to experience culture and immerse ourselves into Spanish culture. We ended up in Lleida! Lleida is not considered a typical tourist stop, but I found there...
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Puig Castellar, 08758, Barcelona, Spain
Hike up the hill from Turó del Pollo and get an eyeful of an ancient (6th century B.C.) Iberian settlement at Puig Castellar. This is best saved for a cool fall or spring day as at this height the sun can be fierce. Take a picnic lunch, or at...