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La Vilella Baixa

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LOCATION:

The town of Vilella Baixa is situated where the Montsant river meets the stream of Scala Dei, above cliffs that give an extraordinarily high appearance to some of its houses. The town also lies between the summits of Figuera and the most southerly limits of Montsant, and on its hillsides are the winegrowing areas.

HISTORY:

The original name of the town was Vilella de Baix, thus recorded in a wedding book of the Torre de l’Espanyol in the year 1712. When the names of the region were translated into Spanish, during the reign of Philip V, it became known as Vilella Baja and, later, when its name was translated back into Catalan, it became known as Vilella Baixa.

Although the origin of the town that dominates the valley of the Montsant river dates from the period of Arab control, it is very likely that, due to its privileged position, the town was inhabited a long time before. The first walled enclosure and castle are probably Moorish and were continually reformed after the Reconquest as they formed part of the barony of Cabassers.

FESTIVALS AND CUSTOMS:

The town celebrates the local festivities of Saint Quitèria on 22 May and those of St. Jaume 25 July. The Main Festival takes place 50 days after the Resurrection. As for the gastronomy, special mention must be made of the sugared cakes called ‘coques’.

PLACES OF INTEREST:

The whole town of Vilella Baixa is of outstanding architectural value. Its narrow, sloping streets and its unique buildings attest to this. The very unevenness of the hill on which the old town is perched has made it necessary to build houses of 7 or 8 storeys with the main door on the 4th or 5th floor.

A must-see is the ‘carrer que no passa’ which is the most loved steet in the town. It is situated at the top of a climb and has an ancient portal. Other important buildings are the parish church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, that belongs to the see of Tortosa and dates from the 18th century, the magnificent Romanesque bridge with its 3 arches that span the rivers.

For a while now one has been able to admire the beauty of this town both by day and by night, above all from above the ‘coll de l’ermita’, as sodium lights have been installed which, with their orange glow, light up the houses and streets.