Lerida information

Introduction to the Province of Lerida
Lerida, the province’s capital, is one of the oldest cities in Catalonia. It was originally founded by the Romans in 3BC and even minted its own coinage and then became the centre of a small Arabic kingdom. The remains of the original city walls and other Roman buildings can still be seen in Lerida today. Although the majority of the native population is bi-lingual you are likely to hear the local dialect of Lerida being spoken on the streets. The city was extensively damaged during the Spanish Civil War as it was seen as a defence point for Barcelona.

Lerida’s 13th Century La Seu Vella Cathedral is completely enclosed within the walls of the city’s ruined castle, La Suda, and is situated high above the River Segre, on which Lerida was built. It was actually deconsecrated in 1707 and taken over by the military, hence its fortified appearance. When that happened, a new cathedral was commissioned. The new cathedral is the Baroque style 18th Century La Seu Nova, built below the original.

Other ecclesiastical buildings of note on Lerida include the 12th Century Church of San Lorenzo with its octagonal tower and the Roman Church of San Martin, where the city’s Roman Museum is now located.

The Castillo de Gardeny was built by the Order of The Knights Templar, although it originally served as a monastery. It is one of the most notable examples of Knights Templar architecture in Catalonia.

On the street of Rambla de Ferran are the city’s 13th Century tanneries that have now been restored and opened to the public.

The Camps Elisis park in the centre of the city is a delightful natural space in which to wander and relax. This park plays host to a typically strange festival annually at the end of May, called the Aplec del Carajol, or snail jamboree. It is mainly an excuse to eat as many snails as possible but there are also snail races and a general party atmosphere.

Lerida also hosts a Jazz Festival in the month of November.

Around Lerida City and Beyond
The main attraction that people come to the province of Lerida for is its skiing which can be enjoyed in the Pyrenees that make up its mountainous landscape. Some of its ski stations are to be found in the Aiguestortes i l’Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, these being Boi-Taull, Vall d’Aran and Baqueira-Beret. There are other ski stations in Cerdanya and Pallars Sobira.

If skiing isn’t your thing, then the Pyrenees make for great walking and hiking territory. The areas around Noguera Balaguer and Pallars Jussar make for good places to base yourself.

The historic town of La Seu d’Urgell sits at the confluence of the Rivers Segre and Valira, near to the province’s border with Andorra and makes a handy place to stay if you want to visit Andorra but not actually stay there. There is a fine and imposing 12th Century cathedral and the cobbled streets around the cathedral are delightful to explore. The nearby village of Castellciutat enjoys fine views of the whole of the Segre valley below.

The town of Vielha, in the Aran valley, has a stunning location, surrounded as it is by the towering peaks of the Pyrenees.

The Aiguestortes i l’Estany de Sant Maurici National Park is home to mountain goats, marmots and vultures amongst other creatures. It is a magnificent glacial landscape to explore and there are many marked walking routes to suit all abilities.

The Gastronomy of Lerida
Lerida is the undisputed capital of snail eating, well, outside of France anyway. You will come across them served “a la gormenta” (seasoned and fried), “a la brutesca” (on a stone tiles with burning straw on top) or “a la llauna” (with alioli or vinaigrette). Don’t worry if snails aren’t to your taste though because Lerida produces a wide range of other produce that is widely used in its typical dishes, such as pork and wild mushrooms, often served simply grilled. You may come across Olla Aranese, which is a stew of pork and other meats, rice, vegetables and chorizo. Lerida is also famed for its peaches and nectarines.

Lerida’s fine wines of the Costers del Segre region should not be missed.

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