Prades

Prades

The village lies in the heart of the mountains of Prades, with an altitude of 950m. The village of Prades, was formerly the capital of the county of Prades, connected to the Catalan royal house: Queen Margarida of Prades was the wife of Martí I l'Humà. It is an important and beautiful village; it is very distinctive with the Triassic red stone that has given the village the nickname of Vermella (the red town). The gates in the walls, the arcaded square, the famous and beautiful Renaissance spherical fountain and the base of the towers are all worth noting. 

Prades is now an important residential neighbourhood, and it is known for its fair climate and landscape; its surrounded by a stunning natural environment.

Prades is famous for its potatoes, chestnuts and honey.

 

History

In the cave of Cistera there is a Neolithic shelter and there are similar ones in the cave of La Guardia in the Mas of Pere Jeroni and the fountain of the Pu. In Rossinyols, remains were found that seem to indicate an Iberian settlement. Vermella The town is 950m above sea level, protected by the highest peaks of the Prades mountains, such as the 1,126m-high muele d'Estator or the Baltasana hill, which at 1,201m is the highest point top of the Baix Camp.

It is said that there was a fortified Arabic castle - if so, this would have fallen into the hands of the Catalan counts prior to 1153. In 1159, Ramon Berenguer IV gave the town charter to the habitants of Prades. The medieval period was a fruitful period for the people – for example, there was a major livestock market and they had the right to a mint. In 1290 came the mendicant order of Mercy in Prades. .

During the fourteenth century there was a prominent Jewish community. Jaume II named in 1324, his son Ramon Berenguer, Count and Lord of the lands and mountains of Prades. The nobility hold the barony of Entença (which included part of the ancient barony of Castellvell) and a long list of villages occupying approximately 1,158 km2. It was in the fifteenth century when a branch of the royal family, which owns the county, was related to the ducal house of Cardona, who became the head of the county. This domination ended in the hands of Medinaceli from 1663; the current Duchess of Medinaceli is the twenty-fifth Countess of Prades.

In the War of the Reapers, french-catalan troops fought in the County of Prades. In 1641, the governor of Tarragona launched an attack against the village that made them surrender after nine days. The assault was not enough, ten years later, the former army went through the town and they brought down the house of Siurana, they occupied the Espluga of Francolí, and Prades and its castle were badly damaged. 

In the eighteenth century, the County village lost the role of regional capital although its market was still important. Prades mountains were a perfect place to hide deserters, as had happened in the Peninsular war. In the First Carlist War, it served as the headquarters of the Carlist Tristany, which ultimately led to the plundering of the town. During the Third Carlist War, Pere Masgoret Balcells, better known as the Nen de Prades, was one of the key players.

 

Places of interest

Historical centre

The urban area of the town of Prades grew to greatly during the mid Middle Ages. Studies suggest that the old centre of the village was formed around four points. The first point is the parish church, located east of the city limits. The second the castle that occupied the north-west corner. The third is the square beside the church, an ideal place to hold the market. The bridge and the river of Prades, north of the town, formed the furthest point. These points have shaped the town into a triangular plan. There are several medieval arches scattered through the village. Like all walled cities, it is accessible through gates. Two of the original four are still standing. Those located in the eastern part have been conserved, is situated next to the church and today is one of the main entrances to the town. The northern one was built overlooking the bridge that allowed passage to the town of La Conca de Barbera. The gates that don't exist anymore were probably under the castle - opening to the people of El Priorat, and to the south facing the lands of Camp de Tarragona.

One of the most publicised images of Prades is the gateway to the town, which is covered by extensive keystones and topped with a machicolation. The machicolations crowned walls, castles, gateways that ran through a cantilevered handrail supported by corbels, with openings between them in order to monitor or control the person who was down there. Before arriving at the gate and and its defensive features, we must talk of the village's cross, of Sant Roc, which characterises the square enclosure. Village's crosses used to be at a crossroads, and had different functions. For example, marking the territorial boundaries of village areas. They were geographical benchmarks and its presence determined the entry to them. Placed in front of the main access roads to towns, acting as protectors of diseases and dangers. The era of splendour for the construction of these monuments corresponds to the XV and XVI century, although there are subsequent cruises.

Alongside the northern entrance, the remains of the County village wall can be seen. Small fragments of the castle remain from mediaeval times. In 1554 the castle was in very poor condition, and was sold in 1774. The chapel of Sant Miquel de Prades castle was built alongside the castle, possibly in the second half of the twelfth century. It is located in the north west of the town and can be glimpsed from the Castell street. The chapel is in very bad condition because their rooms were divided between several owners. The arcaded main square has a well-known fountain. It is of Renaissance design, built at the same time as the roof of the parish church. The fountain has four bronze taps that drain into a circular basin.

Other places of interest: The Foradada Rock and the adjacent lake, the White Fountain, Mountain of la Baltasana, the Espurrides cliff, planos de Payes, the State mountain, and the table of the Four Villages, and the hermitage of Mare Déu de l'Abellera.

The hermitage of Mare de Déu de l'Abellera

The approach: before reaching the crossing to enter the town (if you drive by the Febró), on the right there is a sign to the hermitage, which is about 2 km from the village. You can also go by foot along the old road that passes through the hermitages of Sant Antoni and Sant Roc. If you come from Prades, take the T-704 road towards La Febró or Alcover and look for the sign, then turn left, within walking distance of the town.

The facade of the temple is humble: a portal with keystones, two side windows and a belfry are the two salient elements in the walls, which are finished in the local red stone. The building did not exist in 1484; it was built in 1570 and the bell tower was raised in 1578; it may have been part of the first hermitage. Its actual appearance is due to numerous renovations made through the centuries. It has a single nave 13m long and 6 meters wide, with a niche. The virgin is from 1940 and is a exact copy of the original. On August 12, 1956, the archbishop of Tarragona crowned the icon. The crown is the work of the goldsmith Mercadé Jaume Queralt and consists of fifty silver queen bees and the coat of arms of Prades. Inside is a hive of bees with their honey combs. The image is the patron saint of Catalan bee-keepers. On Easter Monday and 8th September, the day of the found Virgin, many of her devotees visit. In years gone by, residents of Prades used to make a procession on the Sunday after Christmas.

WHAT MORE TO VISIT

We suggest other interesting places to discover in this area

Abellera hermitage

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Interpretation center of Mountains of Prades

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Prades village

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The Roca Foradada

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Baltasana mount

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