Is Catalonia a beautiful country to visit
Profile of a region
The autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia is located in the very north-east of the Iberian Peninsula. The natural border in the north is formed by the Pyrenees, which separate Catalonia from France. In the east, the Mediterranean is the natural border. The Aragón region joins Catalonia to the west and the Valencia region to the south.
With an area of almost 32,000 square kilometers, the region is slightly larger than Belgium. A good 7.6 million people live in Catalonia, over 1.6 million of them in the capital Barcelona. Only the Spanish region of Andalusia has a larger population, but in an area that is almost three times as large.
Catalonia is the most diverse region on the Spanish mainland. From the high alpine Pyrenees to extensive forests in the low mountain ranges and agricultural plains to steep rocky coasts and wide sandy beaches, the holidaymaker's heart will find everything it desires in the smallest of spaces.
In economic terms, Catalonia is not only the strongest region in all of Spain, it also plays a leading role in Europe. Together with the regions of Lombardy in northern Italy, Baden-Württemberg in Germany and Rhône-Alpes in France, Catalonia is one of the four most powerful economic areas in the European Union.
The industrial belt around Barcelona generates a large part of the gross domestic product, plus extensive agricultural areas in the plains and the booming tourism sector. Well over ten million holidaymakers visit the region every year and let themselves be enchanted by its diversity.
The coast - castles and lonely rocky bays
With a total length of 580 kilometers, the Catalan coasts have something to offer for every holidaymaker. The Costa Brava in the north of the region has become the epitome of Spanish mass tourism.
Developed as one of the first coasts in Spain for tourism, castles from the early days of tourism spoil the image on the long sandy beaches.
Places like Lloret de Mar are still known for cheap package tourism, especially young people like to organize boisterous drinking parties here under the southern sun.
But that's why the Costa Brava, the "wild coast", doesn't get its name. It is called because of its landscape: apart from the wide sandy beaches, there are numerous small rocky bays that are difficult to access.
Many of the small fishing villages on the rocky coast have retained their original charm. Divers also get their money's worth on this part of the coast.
The second large stretch of coast of Catalonia, also known as the Costa Daurada (Spanish: Costa Dorada), extends south of Barcelona. The name "golden coast" really only deserves the sandy beaches, which often stretch for kilometers. Behind it, mostly unadorned, holiday settlements and large-scale camping sites are lined up.
Only in the very south can you find pristine nature again in the Ebro Delta. The second largest Spanish river, the Ebro, flows into the Mediterranean Sea near the town of Deltebre in a large delta.
The largest wetland on the Spanish Mediterranean coast has been designated as a nature park since the 1980s, which is an important refuge for numerous bird species. Outside the protected zones, you can take long walks here.
The interior - shaped by the mountains
Even if life today mostly takes place on the coasts, Catalonia was for a long time associated with the mountains. This is largely due to the Pyrenees, which shield the region of France in the north and reach an altitude of 3,145 meters in the Pic d'Estats.
But the rest of Catalonia is by no means flat either. Numerous smaller mountain ranges make the region the most mountainous in all of Spain. The mountains were settled early on. The Catalan population mostly left the coastline to the numerous invaders who haunted the area in the course of history and withdrew to the mountains.
So it is not surprising that the mountains have always been a haven of resistance and have significantly shaped the Catalan self-image and national consciousness.
In Montserrat, a bizarre mountain range northwest of Barcelona, a monastery was founded as early as 880, which is still the national shrine of Catalonia today. The Montserrat Monastery has long been the cultural and intellectual center of the region. The Catalan language, which was officially forbidden at the time, persisted here even during the Franco dictatorship.
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