Parador de Cardona
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- Single rooms (2)
- Twin rooms (42)
- Double rooms (2)
- Split-level rooms (2)
- Room with living room (3)
- Capacity (106)
- Conference room
- Central heating
- Air conditioning
- Canal plus
- Deposit box
- Credit cards
- Currency exchange
- Golf (32km)
- Airport (100km)
- Station (32km)
- Port (100km)
Parador de Cardona - Medieval fortress (4*)
This famous Parador de Cardona is a 14th-century medieval castle perched high above the town, surrounded by 9th-century fortified walls which also contain an 11-century church and an 11th-century tower. Viewable from afar as you approach the town, this is a picture-postcard castle with a great deal of atmosphere and charm. Striking colours are often used in the interior decoration of the public areas, many of these being genuine colours of the original era of the castle, often extracted from local vegetation and mining. Vaulted ceilings, wood beams, numerous archways and exposed stonework are all key features of Cardona’s Parador, carefully restored and maintained for your interest.
The views from the battlements across the town, the river and the surrounding countryside are spectacular. The moats, turrets, arches and Romanesque walls will delight visitors with an interest in history. With magnificent Catalan-inspired medieval furniture, drapes and tapestries, and some bedrooms furnished with four-poster beds, this Parador is steeped in history and atmosphere. The original fortress has been extended and rebuilt through the centuries, leaving it a rather busy complex of halls, towers and defences, and giving it a particular appeal. Occasional concerts take place in the grounds of the Parador and in the church; such is the attraction of the site.
The Parador's medieval-style restaurant specialises in typical Catalan cooking, particularly good hearty cuisine from the region using wild mushrooms, meats and sausages, such as Butifarra con mongetes (Catalan sausage served with haricot beans). Local truffles can be enjoyed seasonally. The Parador de Cardona’s restaurant, however, also serves lighter dishes including fish and poultry, along with some French influence from the other side of the Pyrenees.
- Book room 712 on the top floor of the castle and see whether you receive a visit from the ghost that reputedly appears only in the presence of women, and has been seen by staff and clients alike. The rest of the castle isn’t enchanted, rest assured, but occasional residents of this particular room have reported the sight of a male ghost in period dress.
- For film buffs, see if you recognise any scenes from Orson Welles’ production of Falstaff, filmed in the castle before it was fully restored and converted into a Parador.
The river Cardener flows past the town and adds to the attractiveness of the landscape. Cardona is a quiet town, with some shops and local services, but worth a stroll around particularly in the evening. The town was formed around, and beneath, the protection of the castle, and in the 13th and 14th centuries the Cardona family attained prominence as they became sizeable landowners (owning 30 towns, 25 castles and four sea ports) and their status as nobility was raised substantially.
The Romanesque church within the walls of the fortress – San Vicente Collegiate Church – dates back to 1040 and features a crypt and within the tombs here lie many of Spain’s early aristocracy. There is also a chapel alongside which is more recently built, on the site of the original chapel.
This is 'castle country', with over 90 castles in various states of repair to be found within the area of Solsona alone.
The Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat, only 57km from Cardona, is well worth a visit, famous for its shrine to the Virgin and its dramatic mountain setting, and for concerts frequently performed by choirs and orchestras. There is a funicular railway that transports you to the top of the mountain and from there you can enjoy views of the mysterious rock formations and several monks’ retreats in the mountainside. This is also a significant area for rock climbers and hikers.
Your gaze will also be caught by the rock salt mountain Sal Gema in the Salado valley nearby, an impressive mound of salt that changes colour as sunlight passes over it.
Cardona enjoys an excellent location between key Catalan cities and is equidistant from Barcelona, Seu d’Urgell, and Vic, making it an ideal stop for those planning a tour of Catalonia.
Catalunya Accommodation tax: All guests over the age of 16 who are staying in Paradors within Catalunya will be charged locally a tax of 1€ per person per night (for a maximum of 7 nights). This tax applies to the following Paradors: Aiguablava, Arties, Bielsa, Cardona, Tortosa, Vic and Vielha, and also at La Seu d'Urgell (where the charge will only be 0.50€ per person per night)
Restaurant meal times & typical dishes
Breakfast is served from 8.00 to 11.00 and dinner from 20.30 to 22.30.
It may be possible to arrive up to 22.00 and still enjoy a meal.
The Parador's Mediaeval-style restaurant specializes in typical Catalan cooking, particularly good hearty cuisine from the region using wild mushrooms, meats and sausages, such as Butifarra con mongetes (Catalan sausage served with haricot beans). Local truffles can be enjoyed seasonally. The Parador de Cardona’s restaurant, however, also serves lighter dishes including fish and poultry, along with some French influence from the other side of the Pyrenees.
How to get there
Located on a hill opposite the town of Cardona, the Parador is 85 km from Barcelona. The A-18 motorway, leaving Manresa towards Solsona, is the main means of access. From Lleida, take the C-1313 motorway heading towards Seu dUrgell and exit at Solsona.
Vic-Sau - 96km
La Seu d'Urgell - 100km
Arties - 205km
Vielha - 212km
Barcelona Airport - 90km
Region & Cuisine
The Autonomous Community of Catalonia, in the extreme north-east of Spain, is certainly one of the best known regions of the country. Almost everyone knows all about, and a great many people have been to, Barcelona and the Costa Brava, but – while these are deservedly very popular destinations – other parts of this region are equally attractive yet relatively off the beaten track.
Bordered by France and Andorra in the north, Aragón in the west and the Community of Valencia in the south, Catalonia is a land of contrasts. The northern region incorporates almost half of the Pyrenean mountain range running west from the Mediterranean, with remote mountain villages dotting the landscape. Further south and inland the region is flatter and largely agricultural, a land of arable farming and cattle-breeding, while Catalonia’s 500 km of coastline offers its own kind of scenery and attractions including fishing ports, miles of golden sandy beaches and tiny coves reached only from the sea. Given this diversity of topography, Catalonia’s climate ranges from mild and warm in the coastal region to fairly extreme at higher altitudes where snow is frequent in winter.
Catalonia is a region fiercely proud of its identity, of its history and culture and of its language (Catalán) which is spoken everywhere throughout the region. Many towns and villages in Catalonia are now known by their Catalán names which may well be unfamiliar to those used to the old ‘Spanish’ names. The Catalans themselves are friendly and hardworking and if a Catalán gives you his word you can be sure that he means it. They definitely know how to enjoy themselves, and are fanatical (at least, most of them) about two things: eating well, about which more later, and football – when their beloved ‘Barça’ gets the better of arch rival Real Madrid, particularly at home in Europe’s largest football stadium, everyone knows about it.
The principal cities of Catalonia are Barcelona (the regional capital), Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, each of which gives its name to the four provinces into which the region is divided. Barcelona itself needs little introduction: the urban renewal leading up to the spectacularly successful 1992 Olympic Games virtually changed the face of the city, but not its character. The acknowledged front-running Spanish city in business, fashion, architecture, opera, art, street theatre, nightlife... Barcelona is all this, and more, and remains intensely Catalán.
The province of Girona, in the north of the region, includes – among many other attractions, not least the city itself – the most appealing section of the Costa Brava. Much maligned in the past as the original ‘cheap package tour’ destination, the coastline from S’Agaró up to the French border is now, in the opinion of many, the most scenically beautiful stretch of coast in Spain, typified by the glorious views from the Parador in Aiguablava. Inevitably there has been considerable development along the coast over the years, not least because the Costa Brava is a hugely popular area for weekends and holidays for the Catalans themselves, many of whom have holiday homes both on the coast and in the interior of the province.
A lesser known area of Catalonia is the province of Lleida. The attractive city of Lleida, to the west of Catalonia and surrounded by fertile fruit-growing countryside, is well worth a visit for its old quarter on the right bank of the river Segre. But for really dramatic scenery in this province head north to the Pyrenees. A useful route from Lleida to reach the most breathtaking mountain views takes you first to Seu d’Urgell (near the border with Andorra), then east to Sort, then on minor roads through Esterri d’Aneu and the ski resort of Baqueira, and finally to the neighbouring villages of ArtÍes and Vielha (each with its own Parador) in the heart of the spectacularly beautiful Val d’Arán and surrounded by mountains approaching 3,000 metres. Just awesome!
The southernmost province of Catalonia is Tarragona. Probably best known for its coastline, the Costa Daurada (in Spanish Dorada – the Golden Coast) has mile after mile of uncrowded, flat sandy beaches, very different in character from the Costa Brava further north. Inland the countryside is fertile and in places quite hilly; Spain’s longest river, the Ebro, runs through this province and passes through some exceptionally beautiful countryside near the little town of Flix, an angling centre which in recent years has become known for the giant catfish caught in these waters. The Ebro reaches the Mediterranean near the historic town of Tortosa, a number of whose buildings – including the Parador, the 10th century Castillo de la Zuda – are national monuments.
Tarragona itself was the principal city in Roman Catalonia. It has a considerable artistic and architectural heritage and has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. Among the many examples of the Roman occupation of the city are the Roman wall, the amphitheatre and the ‘Pont del Diable’, a spectacular Roman aqueduct.
And so to the cuisine of Catalonia, referred to earlier. Many, if not most, Spaniards maintain that their own particular region offers the best in Spanish gastronomy, but in Catalonia good eating is definitely considered a priority matter and some of what are considered to be the best restaurants in the world are in this region. With natural resources coming from the sea and the mountains, fish and seafood are always fresh and sausages, meats and vegetables are of the best quality. Catalán dishes can reach the heights of sophistication with elaborate sauces, but three of the most basic favourites – available everywhere – are ‘butifarra amb mongetes’ (Catalán sausage with beans), ‘pa amb tomaquet’ (bread with olive oil and tomatoes, often served with country ham and eaten as a prelude to lunch or dinner) and the popular local dessert ‘crema catalana’, a form of custard covered in caramelised sugar.
Catalonia is one of Spain’s great wine-producing regions, with any number of locally-produced red and white wines available everywhere to suit all tastes. This is also the region responsible for the top quality sparkling wine known as ‘cava’ using the traditional champagne method, and visits may be made to a number of the establishments that produce this wine.
Please be aware of the following:
- 'Special Offers' are subject to the availability of a number of rooms per night and/or a specific meal basis.
- Age restrictions apply to the 'Golden Days' Offer (for those aged 55 and over) and the 'Young Persons' Offer (for those aged between 18 and 30). All reservations made using these tariffs are checked upon your arrival at the Parador(s) booked to ensure that at least one person in a room qualifies for the restricted tariff. In the case that you do not qualify for the restricted tariff, the Parador will apply the standard rate without exception and you will be required to pay a supplement locally. However only one person (per room) needs to qualify for either of these two reductions.