Romanesque gems from the Pla de l?Estany
Winter weather here can be perfect with cold nights turning into warm clear days which is what we took advantage of today with a bike ride around some of the small villages between Banyoles and Figueres.
The Romanesque period (Xth to XIIth Century) left some wonderful examples in the churches of this area and these tiny towns are frequently a handful of houses gathered around the church and little else, normally on a hilltop to be able to spot any roving brigands and where the church bells fulfilled an important warning system.
At one stage we cycled along the pilgrim route more famous now as the Camino de Santiago which the Catalans are marking as the route which goes from the French border to the Monastery of Montserrat and across to Lleida before joining the better known part in Navarra and then on finally to Santiago de Compostela some 800 km's away. On the front of Santa Maria de Vilamari church is a statue from 1787 which clearly shows the pilgrim surrounded by the symbolic scallop shell and holding his walking staff and water gourd.
These old churches have a lot of charm and after all these centuries have blended into the scenery as much as the rolling countryside, fields planted with winter wheat and the oak tree forests.
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