Landscape and culture

Both the environment and the people have a remarkable attraction as a picturesque setting: the presence of the river, the village that goes into the mountains, with the streets that climb between rocks, pleasantly surprise the visitor.

The most important building in the village is the Church, dedicated to Saint Michael and located in the square of the same name. It is a neoclassical 18th century building, with three naves, and a bell tower incorporated into the building.

All the streets are interesting but if you had to choose one it would be Carrer de les Covetes. An entire side of the street is rock, which serves as a support to the street above.

Municipality of Priorat, in the north-western corner of the region, adjoining the Ribera d’Ebre and the Garrigues. It can be reached by the local road Reus-Fraga: at Col de la Creueta (between Ulldemolins and Bellaguarda) the local road T-713 starts, which leads to Margalef. It is also accessed via the n-420 from Falset, la Vilella Baixa road towards Cabacés and continuing after Bisbal de Falset. From Mora d’Ebre, it can be reached by Vinebre, Torre de l’Espanyol and Bisbal de Falset.

The municipality covers an area of 34,60 km². The village is located to the Northwest of Montsant, in the Valley of the river of the same name and separated from the river by the road. The River, after Ulldemolins, flows between the crags and rocks that form the confluence of Sierra del Montsant and the Llena, and a few kilometers before Margalef, the valley widens. This fact gives the village a closed situation, which has given rise to the popular saying “Margalef in a hole”, but also very privileged to enjoy the abundance of water in the river.

Many houses in the village rest on huge conglomerade rocks, abundant in this area.

The rugged territory, gives rise to the existence of caves, chasms and grottos, which are very popular with hikers.

Several prehistoric remains have been found in the caves that qualify some sites, such as the Cova del Filador (Cave of the Spinner), as one of the most important Flint deposits of the Upper Paleolithic in Catalonia.

The name of Margalef is probably of Arab origin, inspired by the large amounts of marga rock there are surrounding the village.

It is possible that it was one of the last strongholds of the Arabs, along with Siurana.

At the beginning of the 13th century, in the year 1200, King Peter I gave the site of Margalef to Gombau de Sataoliva, Bishop of Tortosa, to repopulate. It was then that it joined the barony of Episcopal Cabacés. From that moment on, the population gradually increased demographically until the end of the 19th century when, because of the phylloxera, it suffered a decline as did all the other villages of the Priorat.

Over the course of the year several festivals are celebrated, the majority have had roots in the town for years:

• April 25, St. Mark; reminiscent of old prayers to ask for rain. Formerly the Mayor paid for breakfast for friends and for the people of the town council. Currently run by the Municipal Council.

• June 23, eve of St. John; bonfire in the street.

• August 6, San Salvador; Summer Festival A pilgrimage to the shrine is made and popular games. In the past the City Council paid for breakfast. In the afternoon there are popular dances (dance of the fanalet, dance of the ram, etc.).

• September 29, San Miguel; mass and dancing in the afternoon and evening.

• December 26; a centuries-old festival where offerings to the Church of cakes, cold meats etc are made All these goods used to be auctioned on the stairs of the Church, it now takes place in the Café of the village, the money that is raised is for the Church.

The economy of Margalef is based on agriculture. The main crops are olives, fresh fruit and almonds. Therefore the local cuisine will be sourced from these ingredients.

The agricultural cooperative (founded in 1952) mainly produces oil, with the denomination of origin “Siurana”, which sells 5 and 2 litre plastic containers and glass bottles of 0,75 litres, from mid-November (beginning of each campaign) and throughout the year.

During the summer months (from July to late September) the rich variety of peaches and other fruit (plum, pear, etc.) are also sold in the warehouse situated on the outskirts of the village.

During the 19th century, wax and honey were produced, there were herds of goats and sheep, flour and oil mills, in addition to a factory of anise that was cultivated in the same village. Before the establishment of the cooperative there were also two communal presses.

Currently in the village there is also a small production of wine with a denomination of origin “Montsant”.

The main recipes that can be enjoyed in the area are:

• Roasted vegetables

• Green beans

• Spinach Omelettes in juice

• Grilled meat

• Orelletes

• Olive Oil Rosquilles

• Mixed pot

A large part of the municipality of Margalef is part of Montsant Natural Park, in a unique mountain range that offers visitors a variety of attractions.

The geological features of Montsant Natural Park ensure that visitors have enviable panoramic views. Formed by a large block of conglomerate divided into numerous walls, crags and rocks (like The Glora), suitable for climbing.

The configuration of the mountain itself means it has specific natural resources present that result in characteristic Mediterranean flora and fauna. There is a wide variety of plant and animal species which are perfectly adapted to the environment.

Near the village there is the reservoir of Margalef, opened in 1994 and with a capacity of 2.800.00 m3. It was initially made to supply water to farms in the area and boost the local economy, but lately it has become a tourist attraction.

For this reason it has a recreational area on the bank with stone tables and fires to grill meat and a camping area (la Presa). *

* These actions have been co-financed by the ERDF Programme 2007-2013 Catalonia 

The Montsant River originates in the mountains of Prades and after passing between the Serra de la Llena and Montsant massif arrives at Margalef forming numerous ravines: the Ganyes takes the name of a hill located on the edge of the Taverna, San Salvador and the Auferí. Throughout its course it is common to find people fishing, there are also specific sites where people bathed in the past in summer such as the Toll de les noies and the Peixera (where there is a waterfall of 2, 5 m).

Within the municipal area of Margalef we can find a lot of caves and grottos, among which is particularly noteworthy in the municipality of Margalef, the cave of la Taverna (an interesting place to start caving), la Filador (one of the most important sites of the Upper Paleolithic of Catalonia), el Teix and la Miracle. In the same place there are vertical cavities called potholes, many of which are difficult to access, the Pòdol stands out.

Also noteworthy is the Cave In Ximet, located in the Ravine of San Salvador, this space has recently been recovered by emptying the pebbles that had accumulated over the years and converting the setting of this cave into a recreation area with the construction of stone tables and benches and planting of native vegetation that have allowed a total integration with the landscape of the area.*

* These actions have been co-financed by the ERDF Programme 2007-2013 Catalonia

Among the natural resources to highlight we find the Yew ( El Teix) which was declared a monumental tree by the Generalitat of Catalonia due to its spectacular size (its branches are 15 meters long and it takes three people to surround the trunk ) and age. It takes its name from the nearby cave.

In all the area there are various sources of fresh flowing water, one at Celoni (halfway to the chapel of San Salvador) and one in San Salvador (in the leisure area of the chapel) which are the most visited outside of the nucleus of the town. Within the same village you will find one in Carrer Mills, San Miguel square and Carrer Nou.

Just a few km from the village there is the hermitage of San Salvador. It is a small building with a single nave and covered by a barrel vault which dates from the 16th century and like many chapels in the area has its origins in the many hermits that were in the Sierra del Montsant.

You can go by car, access has been improved recently. It is an ideal place for eating since there are stone tables and places to make a fire without danger, this area is maintained regularly and was improved so that the visitor feels perfectly at home in the nature.*

* These actions have been co-financed by the ERDF Programme 2007-2013 Catalonia.

At the top of the hermitage there is a shelter where before you could sleep. There is also a fresh water source that always flows. It is an unbeatable leisure area where you can breathe the pure air of majestic Montsant.

The most important building in the village is the Church, dedicated to Saint Michael and located in the square of the same name. It is a neoclassical 18th century building, with three naves, and a Bell Tower incorporated into the building.

This is a museum type space located in an old oil mill of the town that has been adapted and remodeled to offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the process of elaboration of the so called “green gold” and the importance of the cultivation of the olive tree in the area.

The caves that are located in the municipality of Margalef have an important cultural value, especially the cave of El Filador (the Spinner) which is one of the most important sites of the Upper Paleolithic of Catalonia, where flint and tools of margalefin ancestors have been found.

The municipality of Margalef has large outcrops of rock. Mills street, known as Carrer de les Covetes (Covetes Street), is the most characteristic of the village. An entire side of the street is rock, which serves as a support to the street above.

Recently, the rock of this street has been cleaned and restored, so today we can see this stone so characteristic of our people in peak condition.*

*These actions have been co-financed by the ERDF Programme 2007-2013 Catalonia

In the municipality there are remains of windmills, el Molí del Mig and el Molí del Vilar. There is also an ancient bread oven in good state of conservation.

A testimony of the time in which there was an abundant livestock activity in the town is a former livestock shelter in stone walls that make up the grottos and caves of the mountain in the form of a small house and farmyard, it was used to close the bestiary and farmers occasionally slept there.