This route explores the village of Santa Pau, blessed with a rich heritage – part of which is included on other routes – that stretches back to medieval times and the Remences peasant’s revolt and up to the 19th century Carline Wars. The route starts in the village itself and then heads for locally well-known sites such as the Pedra del Diable menhir and the waterfall of Can Batlle, before passing by some of the many isolated churches hidden away in the surrounding forests and mountains that include the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dels Arcs and the church of Sant Martí Vell. Finally, it visits the volcanoes and the D’en Jordà beech forest that lie in the heart of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
The medieval town of Santa Pau preserves its extremely interesting walled old town, with greatly marked medieval features and characteristics. Of note is Plaça Major or Firal dels Bous: a porticoed square with an irregular layout and unequal arches that has undeniable personality and that is set around the castle, a large, compact and robust building set at the highest point of the village.
Also worth visiting is the sober church of Santa Maria and all the narrow alleyways, with tight corners and steep descents, which lead to El Portal del Mar.
El Portal del Mar offers a view of the lovely, tempting valleys that surround the town and, as is often the case, are the backdrop to the odd interesting Romanesque church. These include La Mare de Déu dels Arcs, Sant Vicenç del Sallent, Sant Martí Vell and, in an idyllic spot, Sant Miquel Sacot. From Sant Julià del Mont, which is reached after a relatively easy walk, the views of the valleys and the volcanoes is fascinating.
In Santa Pau itself, you can visit the lava flow that can be seen on the bed of the Ser river that crosses the town.
From Santa Pau, you can walk to some of the most unique parts of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park: Rocanegra volcano, Santa Margarida volcano, La Fageda d'en Jordà beech forest and El Croscat volcano. Very close to El Croscat is the basalt plateau of Batet de la Serra.
Following Route 3 of the Natural Park towards Olot, after a few minutes you will reach the lapilli pit of Rocanegra volcano. Rocanegra volcano erupted only 5,000 or 6,000 years ago. The deposits from the eruption of Rocanegra can be found on top of El Croscat volcano and, therefore, is a later formation. The pit, an old, recently restored volcanic lapilli quarry, unusually includes black volcanic materials, compared to other volcanoes in the area. The crater cannot be seen from the lapilli pit, as it opens up the north-east.
Carry on along Route 3 until you reach the car park at Santa Margarida Service Area, from where you can follow Route 15 to El Croscat volcano or Route 1 to Santa Margarida volcano.
El Croscat volcano was created following a relatively gentle eruption with the accumulation of lapilli and volcanic bombs to form a volcanic cone and a quieter phase, in which the lava ran east (the substrate in La Fageda d'en Jordà beech forest is the lava flow), leaving a crater that is open in this direction.
For years, volcanic materials were mined from its slopes, leaving an impressive slice (pits) that can be visited on Route 15. It is a very fragile area, and you are not allowed to leave the signposted paths. On the slopes of the volcano is Can Passavent information centre, which contains an exhibition on the formation and restoration of the volcano. After walking around the old, now-sealed rubbish tip on the northern slope of the volcano, Route 1 descends gently to Can Serra car park. Cross the underpass in Can Serra Service Area and down some steps leading to La Fageda d'en Jordà beech forest. Just before it, on your right, is the monolith in memory of the poet Joan Maragall. The famous Fageda d'en Jordà is an exceptional beech forest, because the trees grow on flat land at a low altitude (550 m). In fact, it lies on the lava flow given off by the El Croscat volcano, giving it a dramatic feel with many very characteristic rises in the ground that can reach up to 20 m in height and that are given the name of hillocks.
Leaving La Fageda, the path climbs up to Can Batlle mountain and Sant Miquel Sacot, a 11th-century church with a Romanesque layout. From here, walk down to the Sacot plain and along Bassols hill on the south-west slope of Santa Margarida volcano.
Santa Margarida volcano suffered a very explosive eruptive phase when its ascending magma hit underground water. The explosion opened up a large circular crater, inside which the Romanesque hermitage that gives its name to the volcano was built. Apart from the crater, which is now a meadow, the rest of the volcano is covered with forests, holm oaks on its southern slope and mixed deciduous trees on the shady side. The route runs down to Santa Margarida Service Area, where it joins Route 3 (Olot-Can Xel-Santa Pau). To enjoy the visit and capture the true essence of this route, we recommend a visit in the spring, summer or winter, given that it is an extremely busy area in the autumn.
Along Route 1 you will find two turn-offs to Route 5, which climbs up to El Colltort castle, a site located in the very heart of the Corb mountain range with fantastic views of the main volcanoes in the area and of Batet plateau.
- Arranged group visits to El Croscat volcano require advance booking by calling 972 19 50 94 and are accompanied by a guide accredited by the Natural Park.
- Other points of interest on the route: Sant Miquel Sacot, 11th-century Romanesque church.
- Collelldamunt spring (water not guaranteed to be suitable for drinking) and Santa Margarida Service Area, which is the only one on the entire route, although there is drinking water at the service areas of Santa Margarida and Can Serra.
Tourism for everyone
- Santa Pau: ramps and handrails in the alleyways around the castle and the porticoed square.
- Fageda d'en Jordà: La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park gives authorisation to enter La Fageda by private vehicles with prior accreditation of the degree of disability.
- El Croscat volcano: La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park gives authorisation to enter by vehicle to Can Passavent Information Centre with prior accreditation of the degree of disability.
Do not miss it
- El Fesolaire, a tasting visit for the whole family that takes you to see the fields of Santa Pau haricot beans and offers a tasting session.
- La Motxilla de la Blanca, a self-guided visit around the medieval village of Santa Pau and its surroundings.