Altafulla – The town of thousand magic gates on Costa Daurada, in Catalonia, Spain

Altafulla is mainly known because of its beach. Costa Daurada itelf is famous for the sandy coastline and lovely beaches, but this territory is much more than that. And besides their amazing and not that much-spoiled beaches, there are a lot of interesting spots among its historical villages and towns. Altafulla is a very good example of that.

Altafulla has three main neighbourhoods: Altafulla Centre, Altafulla Beach and Brisas de mar, a neigbourbood in the north part of the town, along Torredembarra to La Riera de Gaiá road.

Obviously the beach

Altafulla Beach is where the tourists reside due to its perfect location on the coast. Actually, it’s not a modern neighbourhood built on purpose to take advantage of the beach tourism, but a historic part of the town which – according to Catalan Encyclopaedia – was already there since old times, and in 19th Century was formed by 21 houses mainly for fishermen and their small warehouses, and a wine barrel workshop. Nowadays is a pleasant beach quartier, with a couple of nice streets and a main square to taste tapas or have a drink. Our favourite place in this neighbourhood is located at the end of Pont de Mar Street where it arrives to the coast line, and a cute historic stone arch welcomes the visitor into the beach. It is a perfect location just in front the arch to have some tapas and drink something before sunbathing and swimming. Along the beach, especially from inside the water, the views on Carrer Botigues de Mar, the seafront street, are amazing thanks to its particular and beautiful houses that remind those times that belong only to local fishermen.

A historical centre

Altafulla Centre – where most of the local inhabitants live – is quite unknown for massive tourism (fortunately). But anyhow it is a heritage treasure. The origin of the town is medieval and its castle – even remodelled – is a good testimony of that time. Altafulla Castle, unfortunately, is private property and visits to its inner part are not allowed. Even though you can admire it from many points due to its hugeness as a part of the town’s skyline.

The streets of the centre are cute and surprisingly empty often, so you can have a wonderful experience exploring from the bottom part to the ancient walls, and from there to the Town Hall and Sant Martí Church. We recommend to park the car near the old N-340 road, which you will take certainly to arrive into the village, and start strolling up by Sant Antoni Abad Street where you could find a good selection of terrace bars to have a drink or more.

And hunting magic gates…

Just going up along that street you will catch up with one of the secrets of the town: its entrance gates. There are many all-around in different shapes and patterns with date inscriptions on the upper part of their arches. Many of them date from 18th Century and allow the visitor to observe the architecture evolution throughout that century and overall along history.

 

Thus, from the wide-round arched gates that were built during the first half of that century, still in medieval style, they evolved towards the narrow-arched portals with a more sophisticated mouldings than those of the beginning of the 18th Century.

But why that many historic gates? This homogeneous set spread in town has historical reasons. Those gates were part of a batch of new houses built during 18th Century because of the newly-arrived wellness in town, around the economic growth of that period. Altafulla became rich and important due to the agricultural products maritime trade during that period. But the conflicts between Spain and Great Britain put the town into trouble, and its economy suffered because of the trade routes blockage and lootings, hindering its development.

This is my plan for you guys, getting back into the history across any of those magic gates. The perimeter of the old walls, remodelled during the 17th and 18th Centuries, can be traced, especially on the west side, around the castle. Important remains of that wall are preserved, such as two of the original corner towers. Behind the church also rests a stone block from Roman times. Among those limits you will have an idea about what the inner part of old Altafulla was within the ancient walls. Then inside, take a stroll and hunt one by one as many magic gates as you could spot. Try to count them! 🙂

How to arrive?

Plane:

Reus Airport is 20 minutes away and Barcelona – El Prat Airport is 45 minutes away.

Car:

1 hour drive from Barcelona getting off at exit 32 of AP7 highway, and less than 15 minutes from Tarragona.

Train:

Regular train connects Barcelona with Altafulla Train Station, and in every 30 minutes there are trains and the trip takes less than an hour. And a train trip from Tarragona city is only five minutes long!

Bus:

There are regular lines from and to Barcelona, Lleida and Zaragoza. Tarragona city bus, line 12 connects Altafulla with Tarragona. Penedès bus line connects Altafulla with Tarragona and Salou-Port Aventura.

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