THE ASPRES, situated between the Roussillon Plain, the Vallespir and the Conflent, are dominated by the Canigou Massif and unveil an arid region made up of beautiful expanses of vineyards. With its typical villages and hamlets, the sinuous little roads lead to the magnificent landscapes of the Upper Aspres.
Thuir - Monuments, musées et lieux d’intérêt culturel en Catalogne
Thuir was first referred to in contemporary writings as early as the 10th century when it belonged to the Counts of Besalù. It then fell under the control of the Aragon Kings, who granted it the status of a royal town with numerous privileges. The town grew prosperous based on its artisans such as its potters, its paper mills and printers. Even to this day, renowned markets and fairs celebrate these traditional crafts. Viticulture is also at the heart of Thuir’s economy. From the 19th century onwards, the popularity of the local aperitif drink – Byrrh – enabled the town to expand and gain an international reputation through oenotourism (wine tasting tourism).
A MUST-SEE VISIT – The Byrrh wine cellars, including the largest oak wine barrel in the world.
LOOK AT the ruins of the ‘Cellera’, the 13th century fortification towers, the Royal Square and its fountain (1777).
Le patrimoine religieux
The church of Notre Dame De La Victoire (1785-1816) has retained a few elements of the original Romanesque building dedicated to Saint Peter. The lead statue of the Virgin is housed there and is the centrepiece among the furnishings.
LOOK AT the Gothic Pietat chapel, probably built in the 15th century along one of the former Royal thoroughfares.
VISIT the 15th and 18th century Romanesque chapel dedicated to Saint Sebastian, restored in 1976.
Le patrimoine culturel
As the capital of the Aspres, Thuir promotes its traditions by organising Diades Catalanes – Catalan Days – and the renown parade of Giants. Since 2013 its cultural events have also included a full programme for all ages at the Theatre of the Aspres.
VISIT the Musée de la Nature et de la Chasse (Nature and Hunting museum, opened 1993) and the Musée des Arts et Traditions (opened 1994).
Castelnou - Tourisme médiéval en Pyrénées-Orientales
Built on top of a hill is the Castle of Castelnou, the former home of the Viscount of the Vallespir. The access to the village is between two 14th century towers though the village itself dates back to medieval times with the charm of its narrow cobbled streets and still in natural surroundings… all of which has earned the village the honour of being one of the “Most Attractive Villages in France”.
LOOK AT the 13th century Castelnou Tower which was part of the Roussillon’s line of defence as well as the 12th century Romanesque church dedicated to Saint Marie Del Mercadal and the Serrat d’en Geli dolmen.
Llupia - Sur les traces de l’art roman en Catalogne
Referred to in contemporary writings as early as 1019, Llupia was run by a number of powerful lords during the Middle Ages. The 12th century Romanesque church of Saint Thomas houses sculptures by the Master of Llupia.
LOOK AT the 11th century Vilar-Milar chapel and traces of the former 12th century castle.
Boule-d’Amont - Monument culturel et lieu d’intérêt majeur
The Serrabone priory contains an incredible piece of Romanesque art – a large tribune sculpted in pink marble, about 3m high and designed in a very unusual shape. The building was known to be standing in the 11th century, was subsequently enlarged in the 12th century, and ultimately restored in the 20th century. It is regarded as a must-see site.