The Llobregat textile colonies by electric car, a world to discover
This route is designed to be done by electric vehicle, although it can be done with any other car. Along the route we will suggest municipalities that have charging points and places of interest to visit while we charge batteries.
Electric cars are a good way to decarbonise road transport These vehicles do not emit greenhouse gases and do not need fossil fuels to run, which which makes them a viable option to help reduce our CO₂ footprint.The constant improvement in the technology of these cars makes them increasingly efficient and ecological.
Consult also the recommendations when traveling by electric car.
Number of sections
Berguedà enjoys one of the most important concentrations of textile colonies in the section between Cal Rosal and L' Ametlla de Merola following the Llobregat river. The French geographer Pierre Deffontaines defined it as the most hard-working: "perhaps no river in the world has been the object of such exhaustive use as the destitute Llobregat." And it is that the waters of this fluvial course are already channeled shortly after its birth in the sources of the Llobregat in Castellar de n'Hug to provide energy to the numerous factories that were active in its course. In this way, this natural resource was used to generate power and also hydroelectric energy to run turbines or looms, the key to industrialization in Berguedà.
These manufacturing centers employed thousands of people in the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe and were one of the pillars of the Berguedan economy along with coal mining.
Textile colonies were industrial complexes in which the owners provided employment and housing, among other services, to the workers. It was a closed world and not only in a metaphorical sense but also in a physical sense, since in some cases there were doors that remained closed at night, so you could neither enter nor exit.
Today, the concept of sustainable mobility in general and electric mobility in particular, fit perfectly with the philosophy of using river water that was used at the time to generate the force and electricity necessary to carry out the activity. industrial of the textile colonies. This is the added value of a trip that allows us to link past, present and future and that goes beyond a conventional route.
Below we propose an itinerary to discover the universe that formed these nuclei where the sounds of sirens still seem to be felt, omnipresent, marking the entrance and exit of the factory work shifts.
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And in the meantime... we suggest visiting Plaça de Sant Pere, the setting for La Patum, a festival that has been a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity since November 25, 2005. And discovering the cultural heritage and history of old neighborhood, the city offers the route "A walk through Berga". The Tourist Office (calle dels Àngels, number 7) will provide a brochure to do it. In addition, during the tour there are panels with QR codes that can be downloaded to your mobile phone for more information.
Berga, Queralt and La Maixerina
We suggest starting the route in Berga, the capital of the region, and specifically in the sanctuary of Queralt, which Josep Pla described as "the balcony of Catalonia". From this privileged viewpoint we will see Berga and lower Berguedà where the old textile colonies are located.
The visitor will discover the reason for this definition of the Empordà writer when contemplating the beautiful panoramic views offered by this watchtower that treasures a great geological wealth and also flora and fauna. The mountain range is included within a Protected Natural Area. The area is frequented by hikers and there are different routes to follow on foot of different levels.
In the mountain of Bergueda, we find the sanctuary of the Virgin of Queralt, a beloved emblem of the people of Bergueda. Every year, on September 8, La Gala is celebrated, a party to honor her. The first documented news of this event dates back to 1667. Historically, the Berguedans have requested the intervention of their Virgin for many reasons: ending persistent droughts, plagues, wars or diseases such as the plague or cholera.
The bell tower and the façade of this religious building are the work of the architect Josep Antoni Coderch de Sentmenat. You can go up on foot from the car park where we will leave the vehicle or with the inclined elevator inaugurated in 1991. We will find a souvenir shop next to the old hostelry. On the frontispiece of this building there is a plaque with a phrase that defines the spirit of the place: "Peace, peace and always peace."
In addition to visiting the sanctuary with the carving of the Berguedan image, we can reach La Cova located a few meters from the temple. Legend says that it was in this place where a shepherd found the image of the Virgin of Queralt and a chapel was originally built in her honor.
We leave Queralt and stop in Berga where we can see some of the original pieces from La Maixerina or Berguedana that are preserved in the Regional Museum and at the same time headquarters of the Tourist Office, located at number 7 Calle dels Àngels. a spinning machine created by the Berguedá carpenter Ramon Farguell y Montorcí between the years 1790 and 1795. In its day, this machine gave a boost to the Catalan cotton industry since it allowed spinning at the same time with more than one spindle and greater performance was obtained and it allowed more work to be done than with the machines that existed until then on the market. You can also see a model that reproduces the original piece. It is an example of the prominent role that Berga and Berguedà had in the country's cotton industry.
4.5 KM (Cal Rosal)
Cal Rosal, one of the largest colonies in Catalonia
We follow the route south along the C-1411z road that runs parallel to the C-16 highway to enter some of the colonies that are part of the Llobregat river park. We stop at Cal Rosal, a town that belongs to three municipalities: Berga, Avià and Olvan. It had been one of the largest in Catalonia and the one with the most workers in the region, almost 2,000.
The factory is still standing although it closed in 1992. The original building of what had been the nun's convent where the workers who came from peasant houses were housed is also preserved. Currently, the building houses a contemporary art center, Konvent, which offers a stable cultural program.
After the bridge, we find the important part of the commercial supply of Rosal lime and in the autumn mushroom season there is a mushroom market where you can buy them. Right on the other side of the C-1411z road, there was the train station until half a century ago. This was a basic means of transporting goods from the textile industries and also the coal and cement industries to upper Berguedà.
The history of Cal Rosal is closely linked to the communication routes with crucial milestones such as the opening of the road in 1840 or the arrival of the railway in 1887. And the cotton industrialists of Alto Llobregat were the promoters of the construction of the train. to transport raw materials and finished products.
As a communications center, Cal Rosal was a stopping point for carriages that found fresh animals to face the steep climb to Berga in the distant times of muleteers and tartans.
This colony was founded in 1858 by the brothers Antoni, Ramon and Agustí Rosal y Cortina, who ran a cotton spinning and weaving industry in Berga and who had moved to Mataró as a result of the last Carlist war. They bought some land that was used to found what ended up being the Rosal colony.
5 KM (La Plana)
La Plana: from neighborhood to industrial estate
We continue along the c-1411z road (which continues parallel to the old train route) and arrive at the neighboring neighborhood of La Plana in the municipality of Avià . Its origin dates back to 1857 when it was founded by Miquel Roca y Noguera de Casserres. The complex included industrial facilities and multi-family homes.
This neighborhood has experienced ups and downs: it was stopped between 1903 and 1908 and closed in 1962. A fire burned down the historic factory in 1999. However, industrial activity survives in it thanks to the construction of an industrial estate.
You can see the 200 homes that were built for the workers and that are still occupied.
Nearby is the church of Sant Vicenç d'Obiols, which stands on the right bank of the Llobregat and is pre-Romanesque in style. It is part of a complex with the Obiols farmhouse, the rectory, the cemetery and the necropolis, as well as other isolated elements: a bathtub, the Obiols fountain, a stone cross, a shed and the holes of the medieval watchtower.
The church has a single nave, tall and narrow, with a trapezoidal apse at the head next to the east, flanked by two side chapels covered with a barrel vault.
7 KM (Viladomiu Vell)
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And meanwhile... in the Perla del Llobregat we can follow the route through the old town: "A thread through history". The starting point of the tour is at the Historical Interpretation Center, at C/Pont Vell, 19), which is also a Tourist Information Office. It is marked with totems and there is an app to download it to your mobile phone and follow it comfortably.
Viladomiu Vell and Viladomiu Nou, two twin colonies
We go down Llobregat, towards Gironella, to visit two of the textile colonies in this municipality. Viladomiu Vell is the one we find first, just after Cal Bassacs. It was founded by Tomàs Viladomiu y Bertran, who in 1896 bought the land on the Sant Marc de Cal Bassacs plain to build a cotton yarn and fabric factory and an adjacent industrial colony.
His biographer, Mosén Casals, explains the industrialist's arrival to the land he had acquired in this way: "at the beginning of 1868 he rented a tartana and went up Llobregat. Stopping here and there, he came to the plans of Sant Marc de Gironella, which he looked at further. carefully that he had not done in the other places where he was stopping, so when he had finished reconnaissance of the terrain, with an Easter face that denoted something satisfactory, he addressed the tartan driver telling him that he could now turn the tartan and turn towards Sallent since now I had what I wanted.”
The factory was put into operation in 1871 in parallel to the construction of the first workers' homes that formed Vell Street. It is one of the best documented colonies and the most significant data of the founding and growth are known, such as the arrival of electricity to the workers' houses and the soccer field in 1923.
The former workers' apartments distributed in rows of blocks are inhabited and it is a quiet place to live and discover, by walking, the architecture and colonial urban layout with typical and common elements such as the church, the owners' tower and the director's chalet and factory.
A little further south we find Viladomiu Nou, which is the "twin" colony of Valadomiu Vell and also founded by Tomàs Viladomiu y Bertran. It is accessed from the C-1411z road, after crossing the Clarà stream bridge heading north.
The historic factory closed in 1982, but later other companies that carried out different industrial activities moved in.
Here you can visit the Torre de l'Amo, which was completed in 1905 and where the owners slept when they stayed in their colony. On weekends you can take guided tours. Recently, a new museum has been opened that allows you to discover it in just under half an hour. If you are traveling as a family, a good option is the escape room "The Secret of the Tower" designed for all ages. Through the clues and games they took us into its history in an enjoyable and fun way.
The building that had housed the cinema has been able to be rehabilitated as a theater not only for the neighborhood but also for the municipality. It also has multipurpose rooms and offices.
7.5 KM (Cal Pons)
Cal Pons, monumental center
Cal Pons is one of the few neighborhoods in Berguedà that is publicly owned since it was purchased by the Puig-reig City Council . It was built between 1875 and 1920, promoted by the Manresa industrialist Josep Pons i Enrich. He was an entrepreneur and businessman, founder of the Caja de Manresa and promoter of the railway from Manresa to Berga. He also dedicated himself to politics.
Experts consider it one of the most interesting textile colonies in Catalonia from a monumental point of view because it forms an urban and architectural complex of great beauty. It is located on land with a steep slope from the highest part, next to the town center of Puig-reig, to the lowest part next to the Llobregat river. On this slope there are different levels with esplanades that served to separate the work areas and daily life and that of the managers and owners, reproducing the hierarchical structure of these spaces.
A walk will allow us to discover the neo-Gothic church, the convent, the theater, the two towers of l'Amo (the Nova and the Old) and the director's chalet. Cal Pons was surrounded by a wall that served to control the workers. Doormen guarded the entrances and exits of the families who lived there. The schedules were strict: you could not enter or leave the premises after 8 or 9 in the afternoon.
The most emblematic buildings of Cal Pons are the two towers along with the gardens that give it its personality. The Vella tower was built before 1885 and the Nova was inaugurated in 1897. The mural paintings in the hall stand out with allegorical themes of the continents of America, Africa and Asia represented by a female figure.
Seeing this property, the imagination allows us to evoke the splendor of these stately buildings that welcomed illustrious visitors. Here, after visiting the church and the factory, the King of Spain Alfonso XIII had lunch on October 31, 1908 during his three-day stay in Berguedà. He also visited the Rosal and Cal Monegal lime colonies, the Asland cement factory in Castellar de n'Hug and the Fígols coal mines.
4.5 KM (Cal Vidal)
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And meanwhile.... we propose The "Route of the Templars and Workers". It is a self-guided itinerary to discover four of the main tourist resources of the municipality in the heritage area and also related to the industrial colonies.
And in the meantime... you can take the opportunity to explore the narrow streets of the old town of Casserres. The municipality preserves numerous medieval houses, with stone facades and interesting architectural details. Walking through these streets will allow you to immerse yourself in the history and charm of the town. In the Plaza de Santa Maria is the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, in the late Gothic style, built in the 15th century. Inside you can admire a baroque altarpiece and some works of religious art.
Cal Vidal, the museum colony
The next stop on our route is the old Vidal neighborhood in the same district of Puig-reig next to the C-16 highway. It was the last one built in Berguedà. The factory was launched in 1901 by the Vidal family, originally from Manresa, who continues to be its owner and has oriented its activity towards cultural and tourist uses.
In the sixties it had reached between 700 and 800 inhabitants. Workers spun and wove cotton that was purchased in Egypt or India and arrived by train. It was picked up at the station near the colony.
Until the 8-hour work day arrived in 1919, work shifts were really hard: 66 hours a week during the day and 51.30 hours a week at night. The owners offered different services. For example: during the post-war period they paid for milk for the children who went to the nursery, run by the Dominican nuns, so that they grew up strong and healthy.
Urbanly it was divided into three spaces: the industrial area presided over by the factory, the residential area for the workers and services, and the owner and director complex.
In 1995 the colony became a museum. So, a complete tour allows us to know aspects of the daily life of these nuclei: how they lived, worked, were educated or the weight that religion had in these nuclei at the beginning of the 20th century.
As a curiosity, it is worth mentioning that the laundry that was used to wash the clothes of healthy people, called the laundry of the living and also the laundry of the dead, is preserved in good condition. The latter was the one that, for hygiene reasons, was used to wash the clothes of the sick and deceased. In case of death due to an infectious disease, it served as a temporary funeral home until the gravedigger arrived.
Cal Vidal offers guided and also dramatized tours. The spaces in this complex have been the setting for filming films or series. And they are also rented for private celebrations such as weddings.
6 KM (L'Ametlla de Merola)
l'AmeTLLA de Merola, a feeling of a town
Also within the municipality of Puig-reig, but already touching the southern border with Bages following the C-16 motorway, we arrive at Ametlla de Merola, one of the best-kept neighborhoods in Berguedà and with a lively and dynamic associative fabric with a clear feeling of the people.
The original factory came into operation in 1874 and closed in 1999. Although new industrial activities have subsequently been located that continue today.
The place invites you to enter the well-kept streets and see the rows of well-arranged housing blocks, the church, the café that is a neighborhood meeting point, the square, the orchards in this meander that forms the Llobregat or the Paseo de los plane trees to the lock and the canal.
One of the differential features of this neighborhood is its festive and cultural vitality with leading entities such as the L'Esplai Theater Association. The theater building, built in 1902, houses the Pastorets "La Flor de Nadal" with texts by Francesc Picas and Josep Conangla, both from Ametlla. It is a more than centenary representation that obtained the Cross of Sant Jordi awarded by the Generalitat.
Throughout the 20th century, L'Ametlla has maintained a rich cultural activity that has involved residents who have organized plays and have also brought renowned foreign companies and actors such as Els Joglars, Joan Capri, Maria Barbany, Alejandro Ulloa or the Maria Matilde Almendros from Manresa. And, of course, from Ametlla like the theater director Jaume Estruch or the actress Xus Estruch. An anecdote is that the mother of the renowned actor and director Josep Maria Flotats had worked in the L'Ametlla factory.
In the mid-nineties, the theater hosted the presentation of the Parque Fluvial del Llobregat, which was conceived to value a system of 14 neighborhoods and 15 factories located in a stretch of just over 20 kilometers of the Llobregat between Berga and Navàs..
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And in the meantime... we suggest you visit the Pla de Bages Wine Tourism Center, opened in 2020. It is a 600-square-meter space to discover this unique wine-producing territory. It is located in the old Matadero building.
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