History of El Priorat


According to the legend King Alphonsus, the Chaste, sent two knights to survey the country in order to find an ideal place for the Carthusian Order from Provence, to settle in Catalonia. Once they got to the foothills of the Montsant mountain range, they were struck by the beauty of the area and asked a shepherd about it. The shepherd told them about a supernatural occurrence that had happened in the middle of the valley a long time before. Apparently a staircase had appeared from the highest pine tree and the angels climbed up this staircase to heaven. The knights told the king about the story and he offered the region to the Order. The Carthusians built an altar dedicated to Santa Maria where the tree was. History says that they named the monastery “La Cartoixa de Santa Maria d’Escaladei” , it was the first one in the Iberian Peninsula and that is where we find the roots of the history of the Priorat region.

Its situation at the foot of the south slope of the Montsant mountain gives it an uncomparable picturesque beauty

The Carthusian monks, discovered the exceptional richness of the soil for sowing grapes and wine-making. They planted vineyards and hence the Priorat wines became famous. In 1835 when church owned properties were confiscated the monks were forced to leave their lands. But, as well as the ruins, the name Priorat still remains, the name comes from the fact that all this terrain was under the jurisdiction of the Prior of the Monastery of Escaladei.


 

What is El Priorat?

 
Mapa de la comarca del Priorat - Priorat en famíliaEl Priorat is a region (county) in the middle of the Pre-Coastal mountain range between el Camp de Tarragona and les Terres de l’Ebre, it borders on the other regions of Baix Camp, la Ribera d’Ebre, Les Garrigues and la Conca de Barberà. It is a land of steep vineyards, harsh cliffs and imposing rock-faces, hidden valleys and cool ravines. The main mountain is Montsant but other mountains are Prades to the east, Argentera d’en Jover and Llaberia to the south and La Llena to the north-east. The capital of the region is Falset.


 

Towns and villages of El Priorat

 

  • In the historical Priorat you will find the following small towns and villages: Porrera, Poboleda, Torroja del Priorat, la Vilella Alta, la Vilella Baixa, Gratallops, La Morera de Montsant (including Escaladei) and Bellmunt del Priorat. The historical Priorat coincides with the designation of the original wine quality of Priorat 1), some of the best quality wines in the world are from this part of the Priorat.The concentration of the population in small communities with similar architectural characteristics and the lack of widespread dissemination of the region contribute to the conservation of the countryside.

La Denominació d’Origen Qualificada Priorat (the designation of the original wine quality of Priorat), this is the only designation of Catalan origin recognised for its maximum quality

  • The present day Priorat , as well as the towns and villages included in the historical Priorat, is made up of the following towns, la Bisbal de Falset, Cabacés, Capçanes, Cornudella de Montsant, Falset, la Figuera, els Guiamets, el lloar, Margalef, Marçà, el Masroig, el Molar, Pradell de la Teixeta, la Torre de Fontaubella and Ulldemolins. A large number of these towns and villages belong to the designation of wine Montsant(Denominació d’Origen Montsant ). This designation of wines was created in 2001 and has undergone a spectacular growth since then.

How to get there

 

The N-420, which goes from Reus and passes through Falset and goes on to Aragon through Móra d’Ebre, is the main road to the Priorat region.
How to get from Barcelona to Poboleda:

If you’re coming from Barcelona, you have to drive towards Tarragona, you have to take the T-11/Reus/Airport which will take you to the N-420/Falset/Alcañiz.

Then you’ll see an indication to the right which will take you to the C-242 (Les Borges del Camp first and then Alforja ).

Once you’ve gone down the mountain, you’ll come to a crossing which goes towards Porrera, don’t take any notice of this crossing, keep driving a few metres and once you’ve crossed the bridge, turn to the left towards Poboleda and Escaladei.