L'Albiol

L'Albiol

On the edge of the L'Alt Camp region, on the south-eastern slopes of the Prades mountains, the town L'Albiol formed around the now demolished Saracen castle. The municipality is composed of two small villages, L'Albiol itself and Bonretorn, a summer holiday resort. L'Albiol also includes the neighbourhood Les Masies Catalanes.

 

History

The name is of Latin origin (Alveolu), meaning place of collection or transport of water, due to its abundance in the area. Other theories say it has Arab descent or it comes from a landowner named Albiolus. At the site of the present castle would have been a pre-Roman watchtower, the Saracen castle was conquered and destroyed by Guillem de Claramunt in the Twelfth century. 
 

Places to visit

The castle

As we reach the castle, the first thing one sees, between the pine trees and the vegetation-covered structures, is a wall, which has four flanking towers and a circular tower. The wall was built with polished with stones that have polished corners. There are arrow-slits spread across the wall. The oldest part is the main tower, located on the highest point of the enclosure. It is 6 metres long, nearly 3 m. wide with walls of 100 cm depth at the base. Here the walls are built with lime mortar; the smaller stones at the top suggest it was added later. North of this tower there is another one, almost rectangular, with 4.35 long and 3.5 wide and 110 depth cm. For specialists in medieval art, this tower could have been higher that what it currently is.

Inside the enclosure there are the remains of a ship, located about 10 m east of the main tower. It would have had a rectangular base, about 7 m long and 4.5 m wide, met with a pointed vault. The nave dates to later than the other parts of the castle. On the north-east side of the wall there was a round tower – all that remains is the base. Following the closing of the enclosure wall, four towers serve to create an image of what this fortification was like.

St. Michael Church

It was built in the late eighteenth century, designed with a single nave with chapels between the open buttresses. It is said that the altar came from the convent of Sant Francesc of Reus and currently has a carving of St. Michael which could be from the Eighteenth century. L'Albiol also belongs to the chapel of Bonretorn and the ruined medieval chapel Virtuts, despite being in the area of Alcover.

The masías

The true significance of L'Albiol comes from a number of farms located in the surroundings area. The most important include Mas de Barberà (first mentioned in 1477), the Frare or Miqueló, (1768), Mallafré (1495), the Llaberia (1621), Ferrer or Sord (1335), and that of Mas Nou (1778).

Villa Urrutia

Situated in the Masies Catalanes neighbourhood, Villa Urrutia is a landmark of modernist architecture in both the building and in the surrounding gardens; the slender circular tower is striking over the roof-tops of the residential buildings. The monument was built to merge sensitivities provided by all the modern arts, such as the application of ceramic, shaped forms on the walls or furniture cabinetmakers in vogue, such as the Spaniard Gaspar Homar. Inside, in the main hall, there is a dado made at the factory Pujol i Bausis of Esplugues de Llobregat.

The original farmhouse was the Mas de Mallafré. The transformation of the old house into the elegant Villa Urrutia was down to its owner, Augusto Roldan Urrutia, a Basque. He was an indiano (known as the immigrant to South America or descendant of Spanish immigrants, mostly from the Bay of Biscay and Catalonia, who returned to his homeland after having emigrated to America motivated by a desire to make his fortune) who had many cacao farms in Venezuela. He lived in Barcelona with his wife and four children. His wife was Gascó Josefina Miró, from Tarragona, a cousin of the painter Joan Miró. The monument was designed according to the most lavish villas style, the isolated masies or houses built by modernist parameters. The old palm-lined promenade is in this style, leading to a roundabout with a grotto made of pebbles, which in turn leads to the tennis court. The first floor has a gallery decorated with colourful floral sculptural elements like the two side windows. These windows make this level and they close it with curved wrought-iron balconies. The forum notes that it was in the noble or main floor; the construction element is transformed into a balcony upstairs. His rail was ornamented with flowers, a motif repeated throughout the house. The barbican is undoubtedly what breaks the horizontality of the facade. The finish is meandering, undulating and runs away with this approach from the orderly scheme set vertical and horizontal lines that form the façade so symmetrical.

The eastern-facing façade benefits from an amazing view. There is a spacious terrace with a railing finished with flowering as in some of the most luxurious houses built at that time in neighbouring municipalities. The western side of the house incorporates a circular tower topped with a needle; the tower has two windows and a bell. It is said that since the house had several employees, a bell that was rung to mark the start and end of working day.

The farm was initiated in 1913 and some of its external elements, such as the roundabout, point to the access to the grotto. Little is known about the architect, it may have been an architect named Aubi or Aubí. The decorator came from Reus, and was called Fuster.

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L'Albiol

Albiol castle

L'Albiol

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