Vilaplana covers 23.47km2. Vilaplana lands are hilly. When in 1961 the area of the Mussara was added, it got impressive cliffs and magnificent stretches of forest.
Vilaplana offers the charm of a village that lies at the foot of a crag, creating a place of unsurpassed beauty. On top of the crag, the captivating deserted village of La Mussara dominates the Camp de Tarragona and has one of the best views you can enjoy in this region.
Vilaplana it is said was built around a pen for the inhabitants of La Mussara, possibly called Masos de la Plana; once the village was established, it would be named Vilaplana. The first place where the name of the town appears is on a scroll of L'Aleixar 1297. There is evidence that Jewish families were living there at the first quarter of the fourteenth century and who traded with people from Valls. The economic base in the seventeenth century was hazel, livestock and beehives. In February 1714, the philippic Marquis de Lede burnt the village as it had protected the carrasclets (rural guerrilla). We imagine Vilaplana in the eighteenth century fortified, as the documents speak of its walls. The people were greatly troubled by the Carlist battles; for example, when on May 15, 1873, 200 Carlist attacked the village, looking for the 14 Liberals that the town had protected and who were hidden in the church. In 1956 the Cooperative formed. The village population has increased over time due to people taking second homes there.
The parish church of the Nativity must be visited, with a Baroque air, started in 1736 and finished in 1739. Inside is the icon of the Virgin of the Llet, which was located in the previous Romanesque church.
Rarely can a deserted town give a visitor so many pleasurable sensations as The Mussara. The visitor will visually appreciate the humility and simplicity of the walls of the demolished houses and the church which is still standing. Immediately, the newcomer will think of the difficult living conditions encountered by the people who inhabited the village, and when you take a few steps toward the cliffs, you'll find a fabulous and unique view of the Camp that will not leave you unmoved. The town rests on the Airasses bluff, over 900m high in the mountains of Prades. Among the grim silence of the deserted houses is the whisper of a village that had an amazing history. But the remains of the buildings speak of a past and where a few people could not continue in the town, their daily life, work and social, dried gradually until the end. The loss of their historical independence came on 10 February 1961, when The Mussara was annexed by Vilaplana.
The town had a rich and unique history. It is thought that the Saracen remains found at La Mussara tell of the existence of a garrison under the Vali of Siurana. Perhaps supporting this belief the Arabic place-name that names town and that can mean "flat." The core documents are from the year 1173, the church was named as the Bula of Celestí III of 1194, which became a suffragan of the Vilaplana since 1533. The Mussara was part of Prades County since 1324.
Population loss was constant throughout the twentieth century. In 1920 The Mussara had 169 inhabitants, in 1940 only 94 were left, with only 12 in 1960. The inhabitants of the first half of last century were mainly involved in the cultivation of potatoes and wheat, and the fields were suitable for the breeding and herding of cattle, sheep and goats.
The church of San Salvador is very ornamented. The Romanesque building was primitive, although there is some evidence of the Gothic style that followed. On the lintel of the doorway there is the key date of 1859. There was the venerated icon of the Virgin of Patronage, from the seventeenth century, currently stored at the Museum of Art and History of Reus. Some can still remember the altars and the images that decorated them: when you enter on the right they had baptismal fonts, the Altar of the Souls, with the Fonda chapel with the altar of Sant Crist and the Dolorosa, and sacred Christ with a perpetual burning flame. On the other side, the altar of San Isidro, the main altar in the centre, the de la Mare de Deu del Roser, that of Puríssima and Patronage. Beside the altar of Patrocini the choir had stairs and through them the church was connected with the abbey.
Historically, having a particular kind of terrain led to the Mussara being the hiding place for Carlists in its caves, and farms. Roads of old served to transport men, cattle and goods, some of them still cobbled, cross the lands. The Mussara is also scattered with other construction debris. On the southern slopes of the mountain that has the same name as the town there is the Moreneta tower, which tradition says was built over Moorish ruins and dates from the XII-XIII century.
Near the ruins are scattered many farms that have already lost their facades and individual character. Some of them had ice stores, as the Mas del Pou. These pre-industrial elements were widely used to conserve ice. In winter, the chamber was filled with snow and ice, and covered with snow, ice and straw so that the sun will not melt the inside.
In the area are cave paintings that belong to the cave paintings of the Mediterranean, declared a World Heritage Site in 1998.
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