Sau – A route in Central Catalonia

This is an article about a route in Central Catalonia. Here you will find our proposal for an itinerary from Vic, one of the capitals of Central Catalonia, to some small towns (Tavertet, Rupit and Sant Romà de Sau) in Osona and La Selva regions, in between Collsacabra Mountains and Les Guilleries Natural Park. Along this route we will visit a city, two cute villages with historical heritage, we will find a nice natural spot and we will discover a singular culture and very strong identity.  

Rupit

Itinerary

The itinerary of the route is Vic, Tavertet, Rupit and Sant Romà de Sau church in Sau swamp. Click on the image or here for an interactive map of our route.  

How to start the route

We recommend doing it by car or motorbike. According to normal road conditions is possible to do it in all year long both ways. During winter might be more comfortable by car and the rest of the year will be easier to park at all the spots with a motorbike.

Vic is 70 km from Barcelona you could make in an hour by driving, first by the AP-7 and then by the C-17, if the traffic conditions are not very bad. From Tavertet to Vic you may need 45 minutes to cover the 30 km distance since the road conditions are far from being fair. The road is sometimes narrow and bumpy, so it’s better to slow down and enjoy the landscape which is awesome.

Collsacabra Mountains

Tavertet is located just 12 kilometers from Rupit. Although the distance between the two towns is very short, the journey takes about 25 minutes as it passes through a section of rural road where the road is quite narrow, although its condition is correct for regular cars.

The road from Rupit to Vic by car is one of the most beautiful routes that we can find in Catalonia, very nice to take photos either at its viewpoints, fountains, farms or simply just in the forest close to the road.

To arrive to Pantà de Sau from Rupit is perfectly possible but the road is not a gift of god either. It’s the old narrow road to Sant Romà de Sau, a village that was flooded by the construction of a swamp in 1965. It takes at least 40 minutes but you won’t regret it.

1. Vic

Our itinerary departs from the city of Vic, which is one of the important hubs in Central Catalonia. Vic is surrounded by a large very rural territory in which the villages are small and quite dependent of the agriculture. Since Vic is enough far away from Barcelona or from any other relevant Catalan city actually performs as the main center of its region.

Vic is a vivid city with plenty of bars and restaurants. You shouldn’t miss the local sausages in your visit to Vic. It has an amazing heritage and the City Hall has done some efforts to promote it and make it more enjoyable.

For more information check here our complete article about Vic.     

2. Tavertet

Tavertet is a small municipality of just over 150 inhabitants made up of the urban centers of Sant Bartomeu Sesgorgues and Tavertet itself.

It has a privileged tourist-speaking location. Tavertet is at the top of a rock, which offers impressive views on Sau and Susqueda swamps and Montseny Mountains Natural Park. Its urban nucleus has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest by the Government of Catalonia.

Tavertet is an ideal town to enjoy its natural environment and a good starting point for excursions in the area. Although, we did not have enough time to do any trekking so we just visited its old town.

After parking the car easily at the entrance of the town, we decided to walk along the streets of Tavertet and discover the most beautiful corners of the town. The main architectural attraction to see in Tavertet is Sant Cristófol Church, which is part of the Romanesque routes of Osona (Ruta del Cabrerès).

The visit to Tavertet is relatively quick as it has approximately only 50 stone houses, built between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, however, due to the beauty of its traditional style, it is a worthwhile visit. One of its main streets is Carrer del Mig (Middle Street) which is really beautiful since apart from the stone houses that surround it, it has a paved floor worth seeing. This street leads to perhaps the city’s greatest attraction: the Viewpoint of Tavertet, located at the end of Carrer del Mig, which is one of the most interesting and spectacular points of Tavertet because of its spectacular views of Les Guilleries, Montseny and the Sau Swamp.

Pantà de Sau from Tavertet

3. Rupit

Rupit is located in the natural region of Collsacabra and mixes attractive natural landscapes with medieval buildings of great architectural and tourist value in a very balanced way.

We made a first a visit at evening and returned the next day to enjoy the town in broad daylight. It was quite late and we could get into the village with the car with no problems. We parked just in front of the bakery-bar located at the entrance of the old town in a traditional big stone house. We started crossing the suspension bridge which was empty and funny just for us. After a while we were strolling in the cold in between the narrow stone houses streets admiring their lonely beauty. We arrived to the church street and we could warm up a bit by a tea. That time the cute stores were closing, the locals were chatting at the corners and a local girl from an isolated house asked for the lottery her mom has ordered to the owner of the bar we were sitting in. All seemed only for them, but the next morning we realized that there a daily invasion is occurring.

The first thing we noticed when we came back the day after was that you cannot drive into the old town of Rupit. That happens very often in medieval towns since those streets are not designed for vehicles, but the night before the guards stopping the traffic from getting in the village were not there. In Rupit it is only possible to enter with the car if you leave it on the outskirts of the town, next to the Rupit i Pruit tourist office, in a large parking lot that costs € 3 per day.

One of the greatest attractions of the place is simply to walk through its streets and observe how on each corner we find a place where we would stop to take pictures. Rupit is a town of medieval origin, but its walls and castles have not withstood the passage of time very well. So what we admire currently in town are mainly stone houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. Several of the gates have an inscription on the stone lintel with the date of their construction and we have to say that despite the fact that many of these houses are already more than 400 years old, they are extraordinarily well preserved. The best examples probably are The hardware store, “Ca L’Apotecari” (The house of the pharmacist) and the Notary Soler.

We crossed again the Suspension Bridge and we needed to keep a line and wait. During daylight the inscription at both entrances to the bridge “It is not allowed to swing or pass more than 10 people at the same time” makes sense since might be dangerous because of the amount tourist that want to cross it and its only allowed to walk on in one direction.

The church street was then crowded and the bars and cute shops fulfilled with traditional goods were all open. From there the views of the church and a traditional old balcony are really worth.

Walking a bit it is very easy to spot Santa Magdalena Hermitage located on the outskirts of Rupit, at the other side of the cliff. This building is really beautiful not only because of the architecture but because of the landscape with the best views of Rupit.

The first news that we had of the Hermitage of Santa Magdalena dates from the year 1660 and it is in the Baroque style despite its humble appearance, which sometimes makes it confused with a more Romanesque style. It has a stone altar in the central apse and a single-eyed belfry bell tower. It was restored in 1973.

4. Sant Romà de Sau

We wanted to visit the church bell tower flooded by the swamp. There is not a proper road to arrive there, since Sant Romà de Sau Church was part of a village of 100 persons that does not exist anymore. Yes, that was a real village with real people that the government of Franco decided to make disappear because of the construction of one of the swamps included in a plan for providing enough water for the nation. They relocated the inhabitants in the neighbour town of Vilanova de Sau.

The works of the swamp finished in 1965 and the result is a huge artificial lake in a really beautiful landscape. The village is still there under the water and the top of the church’s bell tower is almost always visible in the middle. When there is lack of water the whole village is visible too and there are persons who make excursions in it, eventhough to get into the ruins is very dangerous because it might collapse.

Since the village is not there anymore the road to reach it is very narrow and with no a proper maintenance. Even though there is a kayak rental business, a playground, tables for picnic, proper public bathrooms and even a restaurant at the swamp. Just go slowly and get ready for awesome countryside views while you dribble some cars on the go. It is very worth it.   

2 Replies to “Sau – A route in Central Catalonia”

  1. It’s possible to dive there and the water is enough clear to have good visibility. The flooded village may be a super spot down there!

Leave a Reply