Capafonts is located between the mountains of Prades and Motllats, in the headwaters of the river Brugent. It is a traditional seaside resort with its stunning location, its cool and pleasant climate and the plenitude of all sorts of excursions and tours.
In the prehistoric period corrugated pottery shards where found in the cave of Daniel and in Bec of Gallina, where there is a late Bronze Age site. There are engravings in the Ferraduras.
In 1159, the town is documented in the founding charter of Prades, but it seems that in 1151 it was already held by French settlers. The name is of Latin origin, previous to Mozarabic and then to Catalan, and it means head of water sources. In 1392 the town was given in a dowry by the Count Ramon Berenguer to his wife Blanca. It is known that in 1681 – and again in 1685 - a plague of locusts destroyed the crops. In the eighteenth century, the lead and silver mines were dug, although the economy depended on charcoal.
The parish church of Santa Maria is a work of three naves completed in the late eighteenth century, in simple Baroque style.
Lofty points of the area are 1,071m Mount Pelat, the 1,025 m Pena Roja and the Picorandam (which means in Mozarabic 'swallow peak' and in Basque 'peak valley'). The Motllats, in the south-east, are stony and dry pine and oak forests from where coal was mined. One of the many interesting places to visit is the Bridge of Joi, a beautiful natural arch located under the Nova Fountain.
The river Brugent and the source of the Llúdriga
Capafonts occupies the upper valley of the river Brugent, which flows through the town, at the junction with the Ribatell ravine, the river of Horta and the Tarrascona ravine. Also noteworthy are the river Barral and the canyons of the Llenguaaixuta and Fort. Among the many springs that exist in the area, most notable is the Llúdriga, which never runs dry and supplies the village.
The hermitage is first mentioned in a thirteenth century document. The 2km long path to the chapel, whether on foot or by car, is really relaxing. The road crosses fields of hazelnut and almond trees, gardens and forests, and also a stream, the Barral. Some of these fields have been abandoned and have become progressively afforested, yet each corner, each farm, keeps its original name. For those wishing to admire the vegetation, you will discover a variety of species: white pine and juniper, oak, chestnut, box, poplar, maple, heather, ash, yew, and so on. Well along the road there is a signpost on your left, which specifies that it was a valuable lime kiln. Soon we come to a square specially designed for taking a lunch break. The chapel is tucked in at the foot of the slopes, in steep sandy soils, surrounded by forest, on the northern slopes of a place called the Peak Balanyà.
It should be noted that forests surround the hermitage and also chestnut trees, which were very important to the economy of the early century for the inhabitants of Capafonts and Prades. When you see the mountains that guard the shrine, you have to think that at the beginning of the century it had a strong revival of shepherds, peasants, of charcoal, and come autumn, people collecting chestnuts and mushrooms.
There are stairs that lead to the main entrance to the building. A thirteenth century document talks about its hermit. The small church today dates to a 1956 reconstruction needed because of dereliction. It is small in size, measuring about 10 m long by 6 m wide. It has a small side chapel attached to the north side. The restoration enables to see what was achieved using ashlars and masonry infill. On the facade, the half point portal and a small bell tower outstand. The roof is twofold. The picture holder is placed in the parish church, it is a mirror inside the chapel. The icon of the Virgin of Barrulles, possibly from the fifteenth century, made of polychrome alabaster, disappeared during the last Civil War.
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