One of the reasons this mighty fortress that is the Parador of Cardona was built was to protect the largest deposit of salt in Europe - La Salina, the Mountain of Salt. These salt deposits go so deep into the earth that the ancient Romans who excavated them thought that the the salt "grew" from the depths of the earth - ever replenishing whatever they took away. It is estimated there is still 500 billion tons of salt remaining!.Located in Catalonia about 60 miles northwest of Barcelona, Parador Cardona began as a fortress started at the order of Louis of Aquitaine around 798. It rises far above the town below and the views from the top of the old Minyona Tower (and many of the rooms) are magnificent.There is a sad, but interesting legend associated with the tower.
In the 11th century, a daughter of the Viscount that resided there fell in love with a Moorish governor of a nearby area. The Viscount refused to allow such a relationship and had his daughter locked up in the tower. She stubbornly held to her demands to love whom she would, and after several lonely years, died in the tower.
Some say her ghost still haunts the Parador - particularly room 712. During the restoration that made this a Parador, it is said a dog sat in front of that room and barked without ceasing for over a month!.Another historical note of interest: At this Parador died a man named Ramon Nonato - Nonato meaning "un-born." He was delivered by cesarean section after his mother died in childbirth, and in those days this was still considered a miracle. Later sainted, he has become the patron saint of women who are expecting. On his feast day, August 31st, pregnant women from all over come in a sort of pilgrimage to his shrine which is located on the road to Berga.
The Parador at Cardona is lavishly decorated with antiques, and all the spaces, both public and private are very rich. Catalan-inspired medieval furniture predominates. There is a Roman Temple here that has been made into a small museum of sorts that is well worth exploring.Interesting excursions from the Cardona Parador include:.- The Collegiate Church of San Vincente which is inside the Parador grounds.- The salt mine has visiting hours and its grottos are very interesting.
- The maze-like streets of the town of Cardona make for interesting walking.Interesting day trips from the Cardona Parador include:.- A nearby "must see" side trip is the incredible monastery at Montserrat about 80 miles away.- The remains of the Iberian town of Solsana.- Barcelona is within easy driving distance. You could go into the big city for day trips while returning to the peace of the Parador in the evening.
The Parador Cardona makes a good point from which to explore much of Catalonia. It is a wonderful place to stay for a night, or a week of nights!..SpainParador.
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By: Gary Bumpas