To the castle in Cardona

Cardona, located about 90 kilometers from Barcelona, is home to a 9th century Gothic fortress 
Cardona castle
expanded over the centuries to protect the salt mines that made this part of Catalunya an economic powerhouse. The mines were worked well before the 
Romans showed up; since the early 1990s, they have been converted into the Parc Cultural de la Muntanya de Sal providing exhibitions about salt mining and tours into the old caverns.

Trail through the salt mines
The castle also has been converted, into one of Spain's most enchanting paradoresThe fortress, initially constructed by Wilfred the Hairy in 886, includes both Romanesque and Gothic elements, including the Romanesque Church of Sant Vicenç. 

During the 14th century, the dukes of Cardona came from the most important family of the Crown of Aragon, which was second only to the royal house. In 1714, The castle was the last Catalan outpost to surrender to the Bourbon troops, ending the War of Spanish Succession. It remains an important symbol of Catalan nationalism.

The Cardona castle is a perfect day trip from Bailèn 41 or a quick overnight. 
  • Walk 8-10 minutes from Bailèn 41 to Estació d'Nord, where the buses depart. (See map to the right.)
  • Buy a roundtrip ticket, for about 26 euros. Buses leave Barcelona at 6:30, 11, 15, and 18:45 and return from Cardona at 6:35, 8:14, 14:55, and 17:14 (subject to change).
  • Approximately 2 hours later, arrive at the bus stop in Cardona, conveniently located at the bottom of the hill where the castle is located.
  • Amble up the "switchbacks" leading to the top of the hill and the castle. You can stop, of course, to admire the glorious scenery. On one side you'll see the Pyrenees in the distance; on the other side, the serrated mountains of Monserrat, home to the Black Virgin, Catalunya's female patron saint, and another great excursion from Bailèn 41. (Stay tuned for details!)      
  • Have lunch at the parador's restaurant (we recommend starting off with the regional cheese platter) or, for lighter fare, at its cafe, which has a gorgeous terrace adjacent to an 11th century tower.
  • On your way back to the bus stop, meander through the various baluards (bastions) erected to defend the castle.
    Strolling through the baluards
Guests spending 7 nights at Bailèn 41 are eligible for a half-price rate for one night to enjoy an excursion to Cardona or another location. This means you can travel light to enjoy some royal history and romance on a gorgeous sight-seeing tour of Catalunya. And if you're thinking paradores, make sure to sign up as an "amigo" (free of charge) to get very special discounts on room and board.

A few more photos of Cardona castle and environs:
After the evening rain

The view to Montserrat