Jim, Gwen and I were travelling today to Besalù, without bikes (not allowed on the bus) while Daniel and Andrea had a day in Olot.
Almost immediately after getting off the bus, we came across Sant Vicenç de Besalú. This church had three lovely Romanesque apses, the central one with blind arches, and some very fine carving.
We could look inside the church, but only from the door and from behind plexiglass. The barrel vaulting and rose window were highlights. (More pictures at http://www.artmedieval.net/Sant%20Vicenc%20de%20Besalu.htm)
We walked around the city and caught glimpses of the ruins of Monestir de Santa Maria, but were unable to enter the grounds to get a closer look.
From the angle of this picture, the monestary looks like it might be intact but the nave has collapsed and the window actually shows the sky, not a reflection.
The square of Besalú is large and open. The monestir de Sant Pere de Besalú is located on one side. The carving on the high window in the façade attracts the eye.
I couldn’t decide if the lions were friendly-looking, stupid, or treacherous, maybe a little of all three.
This well-preserved late twelfth-century civil building, La Casa Cornella, is opposite. A picture of the impressive interior of the house is at http://www.besalu.cat/index/index2.asp?fons=1&part1=1&part2=4&part3=1&part4=6&subpart4=23&part5=4&part6=1
Also in the town is the Hospital de Sant Julià de Besalú, with its carved portal.
However Besalú is best known for the spectacular Pont Vell (old bridge) dating from the 11th century.
The towers were a later addition from the 14th century. We spent an hour or two exploring it from various vantage points, admiring its lovely proportions and meticulous stonework, as the sun and rain came and went.
After lunch our plan was to hike north on a marked hiking path to Palera and Beuda. The beginning of the trail was close to the bus stop and we followed the blazes easily until we got to the highway underpass. Then the path clearly continued on without blazes, so we followed the path, slightly puzzled that the keepers of the trail had abandoned us so quickly. We soon found out that we were on the wrong trail, but with the help of Gwen’s navigational skills (and a picture she had taken of the trail map) we found our way to Palera.
Santa Maria de Palera was more memorable for its setting than itself. The gardens of the house adjacent to it were lovely.
We continued on to the Monestir del Sant Sepulcre de Palera. This 11th century church has barrel vaulting and three apses. The lop-sided façade is quite endearing.
After Palera we got a little lost again. We came to a road where a man was sitting in his car. We asked him how to get to Beuda and he told us the route via the paved road. Very soon we came to a blazed trail and started up it, but the man came running after us, insisting that we go by the road. We found on the way back that the trail was a viable route, but I guess he only knew the way by car. Sant Feliu de Beuda was impressive from a distance, though it looked a little blocky at close quarters. The carving on the capitals of the portal, though somewhat degraded, was charming.
On our return to Besalú we discovered how we had mistaken our route: the blazes were on the pillars of the highway underpass! Clearly we needed some more practice in pathfinding!