Castell de Montsoriu is the greatest Gothic castle in Catalonia. At least that’s what our guide said. I’m certainly no expert in Catalan castles, but Castell de Montsoriu is an impressive castle, or more accurately a castle ruin located in El Montseny Natural Park.
The castle dates back 1000 years, but the castle ruins that remain are from the 14th Century. The castle’s strategic position on a high hill served as defense over the entire valley for almost 500 years.
Of course the castle looked much different in the middle ages than it does now and I dare say more beautiful today. In former times, the only way to attack the castle was by ramming a large wooden log through the castle doors. So naturally all the trees around the castle were cut down to discourage such an activity.
The most famous room of the castle, the Gothic Room, which at one point would have been the main entrance room of the castle. (Picture knights and ladies in waiting, instead of a bunch of travel bloggers.)
Castell de Montsoriu is rich in legends and wild creatures. Legend has it that 3 snakes lived in one of the castle caves and protected a precious diamond which one of the snakes kept in its mouth. It also had its own witch – Montosoriu na Guilleuma. Naturally she lived in the nearby witch’s tower, pictured at the top of the hill in the photo above.
Fortunately our next stop was just down the mountain to Celler Serrat de Montsoriu, a small Catalan winery that prides itself on working with the physical processes, not the chemical processes, explained Josep, the owner. He went on to explain the winery’s philosophy further We are interested in producing unique wines in a special place with a special soil. No Coca-Cola here. I liked the wine even before tasting it. But I loved it after tasting it!
Sipping wine on the balcony looking up at Castell de Montsoriu, I could start to feel the legends come alive…. A few brave locals nervously waiting outside the doors of Castell de Montsoriu a few minutes before midnight on the night of San Juan (Summer Solstice). Their hearts beating in anticipation of the first bell to be heard at the stroke of midnight from the nearby town of Breda. Then at the sound, hurrying into the castle and frantically trying to fill a sack of wheat and leave before the last stroke of midnight. The successful would be instantly rich as the wheat would be converted into gold. The unsuccessful? Doomed to spend the next year in the castle’s dungeon until the next San Juan. I can not think of a more perfect pairing than the wines of Celler Serrat de Montsorio with the legends (and view) of Castell de Montsoriu.
Know Before You Go to Castell de Montsoriu:
- Access to Castell de Montsoriu is by tour only. Tours are held on Saturday and Sunday and advance registration is required. Group tours may be organized on other days with advanced notice. Adult admission costs 5€.
- Tours to Celler Serrat de Montsoriu are available every Sunday morning (except during the grape harvest) at 11:00 am for groups of 5+. The cost is €12/person. Wine may also be purchased on site.
- The nearest town in Arbucies, where I would highly recommend the upscale Les Magnolies (I had an incredible 17 course meal there).