The town's importance was greater in the early Middle Ages, as capital of the county of Besalú, whose territory was roughly the same size as the current comarca of Garrotxa but sometime extended as far as Corbières, Aude, in France. Wilfred the Hairy, credited with the unification of Catalonia, was Count of Besalú. The town was also the birthplace of Raimon Vidal, a medieval troubadour.
Besalú was designated as a historical national property ("conjunt històric-artístic") in 1966. The town's most significant feature is its 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvià river, which features a gateway at its midpoint. The church of Sant Pere was consecrated in 1003. The town features arcaded streets and squares and also a restored mikveh, a ritual Jewish bath dating from the eleventh or twelfth century, as well as the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the lower town near the river. Besalú also hosts the Museum of miniatures created by jeweler and art collector Lluís Carreras.
Location in Catalonia
|• Mayor||Lluís Guinó Subirós (2015)|
|• Total||4.9 km2 (1.9 sq mi)|
|Elevation||151 m (495 ft)|
|• Density||490/km2 (1,300/sq mi)|
The name Besalú is derived from the Latin Bisuldunum, meaning a fort on a mountain between two rivers. It is also the historical capital of the county of “La Garrotxa”. One key date is the year 894, when Besalú was converted to a county with its own dynasty. The county changed from “L’Empordà” to “El Ripollès”. In the year 1111, Besalú lost its independence, for historical reasons in favor of the county of Barcelona. Centuries later, Besalú started a decadent period, worsened by the redemptions, wars with the French and carlists.
In 1966, Besalú was declared a site of historical and artistic importance.
The monument is circled by the ancient wall from the c. XII-XIV. Unfortunately only parts of the original walls still exist today. The urban configuration of the site is almost identical to the original layout. Without a doubt, the Medieval Bridge is the emblem of the town, of an angular design with seven uneven arcs and two towers. The part of the town nearest to the bridge there are many narrow streets that belong to the ancient Jewish quarter. It is in this area where you will find the Miqvé, the purification baths, which date from c. XII, and demonstrate the presence of an important Jewish community. The street from the medieval bridge leads to the Town Square “Plaça Major”, a square whose arcades date from c. XVI, and used to be the centre of the medieval town. Important buildings are the Local Government “Ajuntament” dating from c. XVII, the Royal Curia “Cúria Reial”, dating from c. XIV, and the "Casa Tallaferro". The street “Tallaferro” leads to the entrance to the Castle precinct. Inside the precinct there remains one of the towers from the ancient County Castle, and the apse of Saint Mary “Santa Maria” that dates from c. XI. Along with the street “Portalet” these are the remains which best retain the medieval appearance, along with panoramic views of the Romanic Bridge. Leading up from the Main Street “Carrer Major”, there are the “Casa Romà” (c. XIV) and the parish church of Saint Vincent “Sant Vicenç” dating from c. XI-XII which has very sculpturesque doors and windows. Near to the Main Town Square, there is the “Prat de Sant Pere”, wide and spacious which used to be the Cemetery of the Benedictine monastery of Saint Peter “Sant Pere”. Today there only remains the three-nave church and one apse, dating from the c. XI. Also there is the small chapel of Saint James “Sant Jaume” (c. XII) and the “Casa Cornellà” (Llaudes) dating from the c. XII and which has a patio with three galleries. Behind the monastery there is the church of the hospital of Saint Julia “Sant Julià”, with one nave and no apse, dating from c. XII, and an outstanding entrance portal.
Autovía A-26 (Spanish: Autovía del Eje Pirenaico, Catalan: Autovia del Eix Pirenenc) is a long-term project of the Spanish government to upgrade the N-260 national road, also known as Eje Pirenaico (in Spanish) or Eix Pirenenc (in Catalan).
When finished, it will be the northernmost east-west highway in Spain and will connect the French border (near Portbou) with Sabiñánigo (northern Aragón), following the southern foothills of the eastern Pyrenees and passing over relevant towns such as Figueres, Olot, Ripoll, Puigcerdà or La Seu d'Urgell.
At the moment, there is only one section constructed between Besalú and Olot, both municipalities of the comarca of La Garrotxa (Catalonia, Spain), but a second section between Figueres and Besalú is about to be started shortly. The construction of a third section between Figueres and Llançà has been recently approved by the Spanish government.Battle of Torà
The Battle of Torà was a defensive battle of the Reconquista, fought between an alliance of Catalan counts and an army of the Caliphate of Córdoba in 1003 at Torà, Lleida. The main source for the battle is Andrew of Fleury, who probably received his information, which is detailed and generally accurate, during a trip to the Catalonia. He incorporated the account in his Miracula sancti Benedicti around 1043.The four Christian counts of the battle were Raymond Borell of Barcelona, Bernard I of Besalú, Wifred II of Cerdagne, and Ermengol I of Urgell. The German historian of the Crusades Carl Erdmann supposed the leader of the Muslim army to be Abd al-Malik, the son of the recently deceased hajib Almanzor. When Andrew records that the caliph himself, then Hisham II, died in the encounter, he is probably rehearsing a local legend. The battle is not dated precisely by any chronicler, but the names of the counts (all given by Andrew) restrict it to between the years 992 and 1010. A date of 1003 has been deduced by Erdmann from other accounts that a Muslim army moved through the County of Barcelona and passed into the south of the County of Urgell in the summer of 1003. The exact location of the battle, Thoranum castrum (the castle, or fortified place, of Torà), is given by Andrew. The Muslims, according to both Latin and Arabic sources, were defeated and one of their leading men killed. The Muslims retreated to their own territory, where a second battle was fought at Albesa. The result of this second battle is unclear, but it was the end of the brief war, and possibly the campaigning season.
Importantly, Andrew reports the battle in terms as if describing a holy war. The Muslims, whose numbers he puts at 17,000, are "new Philistines". Bernard of Besalú he quotes as reasoning that if the saints Peter and Michael and the Virgin Mary each kill 5,000 Muslims, there will be a manageable number left for the soldiers. Bernard recalls that the Muslims are often slain before they have a chance to retreat. According to Andrew, after the battle the Virgin Mary miraculously brought news of the Christian victory to as far away as Monte Sant'Angelo. Despite the theme of religious warfare, Spanish historians have not picked up on Andrew's account.Bernard I, Count of Besalú
Bernard I (died 1020), called Taillefer (Bernat Tallaferro), was the Count of Besalú in Catalonia from 988 until his death. He was the eldest son of Oliba Cabreta and Ermengard of Empúries, and succeeded his father in Besalú while his younger brothers Oliba and Wifred, inherited Berga–Ripoll and Cerdagne–Conflent, respectively.Bernard II, Count of Besalú
Bernard II (Catalan: Bernat, Spanish: Bernardo; died 1100) was the Count of Besalú and Ripoll in Catalonia, the brother, co-ruler (from 1052), and successor of William II, who was assassinated in 1066. The second son of William I of Besalú and his wife, Adelaide, Bernard married his first cousin Ermengarda, daughter of Ponç I of Empúries and Adelaide, sister of William I.
He was suspected of involvement in the murder of his brother. He was also a strong proponent of the Gregorian reforms. Described as "piadós i versatil" (pious and versatile), he was the opposite of his brother, "iracund i violent de caràcter" (of an irascible and violent character). He almost certainly took the cross and joined the First Crusade.Beuda
Beuda is a Spanish municipality located in the comarca of Garrotxa, in the province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It is located on the slopes near the Mont massif, to the north of Besalú.Castellani (people)
The Castellani or 'Castelani', (Greek: Καστελλανοί, Kastellanoi), were an ancient Iberian or Pre-Roman people of the Iberian peninsula. They inhabited the bottom of the eastern Pyrenees in the northern Tarraconense.
The Castellani are one of the groups mentioned by Claudius Ptolemy in his Geographia, book 2, chapter 5.
Their main settlements were:
Sebendunum (Σεβένδοννον), modern day Besalú
Beseda (Βέσηδα), Sant Joan de les Abadesses
Basi (Βάσι)County of Besalú
The County of Besalú (Catalan: Comtat de Besalú, IPA: [kumˈtad də βəzəˈlu]; Latin: Comitatus Bisuldunensis) was one of the landlocked medieval Catalan counties near the Mediterranean coastline. It was roughly coterminous with the modern comarca of Garrotxa and at various times extended as far north as Corbières, Aude, now in France. Its capital was the village of Besalú. Throughout most of its history it was attached to one of the other more powerful counties, but it experienced a century of independence before it was finally and irrevocably annexed to the County of Barcelona.Garrotxa
Garrotxa is a comarca (county) in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Its population in 2016 was 55,999, more than half of them in the capital city of Olot. It is roughly equivalent to the historical comarca of Besalú.House of Barcelona
The House of Barcelona was a medieval dynasty that ruled the County of Barcelona continuously from 878 and the Crown of Aragon from 1137 (as kings from 1162) until 1410. They descend from the Bellonids, the descendants of Wifred the Hairy. They inherited most of the Catalan counties by the thirteenth century and established a territorial Principality of Catalonia, uniting it with the Kingdom of Aragon through marriage and conquering numerous other lands and kingdoms until the death of the last legitimate male of the main branch, Martin the Humanist, in 1410. Cadet branches of the house continued to rule Urgell (since 992) and Gandia. Cadet branches of the dynasty had also ruled Ausona intermittently from 878 until 1111, Provence from 1112 to 1245, and Sicily from 1282 to 1409. By the Compromise of Caspe of 1412 the Crown of Aragon passed to a branch of the House of Trastámara, descended from the infanta Eleanor of the house of Barcelona.Miró III of Cerdanya
Miró III of Cerdanya and II of Besalú, Bonfill (920 in Girona – 984), was count of Cerdanya and Besalú (968–984).
The third son of Miro II and Ava, he was the successor of his brother, Sunifred II of Cerdanya.
He was first clergyman, then archedacon (957), and finally bishop of Girona (970-984).
He traveled to Rome twice, and maintained a great friendship with Gerbert of Aurillac, the future Pope Sylvester II. He was a great writer, of a very particular style. He devoted his historical writings to recalling and praising the people in the families of the Catalan counts.
He authored the consecration of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa in 974 and the Monastery of Ripoll in 977. Also founded the monastery of Santa Maria de Serrateix in 977 and the monastery of Sant Pere de Besalu in 978.
He was succeeded by his brother Oliba Cabreta in both counties, although Oliba Cabreta had ruled jointly in Cerdanya since 968.Miró II of Cerdanya
Miró II of Cerdanya and I of Besalú (878?–927), was count of Cerdanya from 897 to 927 and of Besalú from 920 to 927. The lands he controlled lay in the eastern Pyrenees.
He was the son of Wilfred the Hairy, Count of Barcelona, from whom he inherited the county of Cerdanya. His brother Sunifred received the county of Urgell, and his brothers Wilfred II Borrell and Sunyer I received the county of Barcelona. After the death of his uncle, Radulf of Besalú, in 920, he inherited the county of Besalú. His sister, Hemmo (Emma), became abbess of the Monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses in Ripollès founded by their father.
Miro continued the work of his father, contributing to the ecclesiastical restoration of the pagus of Berga.
He and Ava of Cerdanya had four sons and one daughter:
Sunifred II of Cerdanya (915–968), who received the county of Cerdanya from his father, and became count of Besalú after his brother's death
Wilfred II of Besalú (d. 957), who received the county of Besalú from his father
Miró III of Cerdanya (d. 984), who became count of Cerdayna and Besalú after Sunifred's death
Oliba Cabreta (920–990), who received both counties as well as that of RipollAlso, his relationship with Virgilia of Empúries, daughter of Dela, count of Empúries, produced (among others):
Gotruda of Cerdanya (c. 920 – c. 963), married Lope I of Pallars (Wolf Pillars)
Cilixona who married Ajalbert,
Oliba Cabreta (c. 920 – 990 in Montecassino) was the count of Cerdanya from 965 and count of Besalú from 984 until his abdication in 988.Radulf, Count of Besalú
Radulf (died 920) was a Count of Besalú. He was the younger son of Sunifred I, Count of Barcelona, and thus a brother of Wilfred the Hairy and Miró the Elder.
In 878, Wilfred separated the pagus of Besalú from the County of Girona and granted it to him as a county on the condition that it would continue in the descendants of Wilfred. On Radulf's death, Besalú passed to Miró II of Cerdanya the Younger, Wilfred's son.Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona
Ramon Berenguer III the Great was the count of Barcelona, Girona, and Ausona from 1086 (jointly with Berenguer Ramon II and solely from 1097), Besalú from 1111, Cerdanya from 1117, and count of Provence in the Holy Roman Empire, from 1112, all until his death in Barcelona in 1131. As Ramon Berenguer I, he was Count of Provence from 1112 in right of his wife.Sant Pere, Besalú
Sant Pere de Besalú is a Benedictine monastery in Besalú, Garrotxa, Catalonia, Spain. The building was renovated in 1160.Setcases
Setcases (Catalan pronunciation: [ˌsɛtˈkazəs, ˌsɛˈkːazəs]; literally meaning "Seven Houses", set "seven" and cases "houses") is a municipality and town in the Pyrenean comarca of Ripollès in Girona, Catalonia, Spain, near the French border. The source for the Ter River is in the mountains just above Setcases. The current mayor is Jaume Busquets i Bartolí.The name Setcases has been documented back to 965, from records of some donations made by Count Sunifred of Besalú in the nearby monastery of Sant Pere de Camprodon.The church contains a Baroque altarpiece dedicated to Saint Michael, which is the only such example of one in all of the Camprodon Valley. Unlike many other relics, it was saved from being burned during the Spanish Civil War.Today, Setcases has most of its economic base in year-round tourism, including hiking in the warmer months (e.g. Ulldeter hiking circuit) and skiing during the winter season with a lift at Vallter 2000.
Vallter 2000 is a very big attraction for tourists from all Spain.
The weather is very cold, specially in winter the temperature can get to about -20 Celsius. In summer the temperature can rise to 20-25 degrees Celsius.Sunifred, Count of Barcelona
Sunifred was the Count of Barcelona as well as many other Catalan and Septimanian counties; including Ausona, Besalú, Girona, Narbonne, Agde, Béziers, Lodève, Melgueil, Cerdanya, Urgell, Conflent, and Nîmes; from 834 to 848 (Urgell and Cerdanya) and from 844 to 848 (others).
He may have been the son of Belló, Count of Carcassonne, or more probably, his son-in-law. In 834, he was named count of Urgell and Cerdanya by Louis the Pious, Holy Roman Emperor; at the time these counties were in the control of Aznar Galíndez I, an ally of the Banu Qasi). Sunifred conquered Cerdanya in 835 and Urgell three years later (838).
In the dynastic struggles that accompanied the three years between Louis the Pious' death (840) and the Treaty of Verdun (843), Bernard of Septimania, the Count of Barcelona (and many other marches and counties, including Septimania, Girona, Narbonne, Béziers, Agde, Melgueil, Nîmes, and Toulouse) aligned with Pepin II of Aquitaine, while Sunifred, his brother Sunyer I, Count of Empúries, and their sons (sometimes referred to as the Bellonid Dynasty or Bellonids) placed their allegiance with Charles the Bald.
In 841, the Moors invaded Barcelona and marched against Narbonne through the region of Cerdanya. Sunifred stopped them cold in battle, an event which certainly influenced Charles the Bald's respect for him. For in 844, Charles reclaimed Toulouse from Pepin II, captured Bernard of Septimania, and had him executed. In exchange for his fealty, Charles gave Sunifred the dead count's honours of Barcelona, Girona, and the march of Gothia. Sunifred also augmented his domains when Conflent fell into his hands, as reigning count of Cerdanya, on the death of Bera II.
Throughout his reign, he was aloof of William of Septimania, son of Bernard, who had risen in 844 against Charles the Bald. In 848, William was named count of Toulouse and Empúries by Pepin II. He quickly moved to eliminate Sunifred and Sunyer. Both brothers died in 848 and some of their counties were assumed by William. Sunifred supposedly died of natural causes, but the cause of Sunyer's death is unknown.
Sunifred I married Ermesende, and had the following children:
Wilfred the Hairy (died 11 August 897)
Radulf of Besalú (died 920)
Miro the Elder (died 896)Viscounty of Bas
The Viscounty of Besalú, or Bas (from the Latin Basso), was the sub-comital authority in the county of Besalú during the Middle Ages. It was ruled by the House of Cervera (also called Cerveró(n) or Cervelló(n), from the Latin Cervaria).
Bernard I, circa 986
Huguet, circa 1000
Udalard I, 1079–1115
Udalard II, 1115–1123
Peter I, 1123–1127
Ponce I Hugh, 1127–1130, husband
Peter II, c. 1130–1140 (associat 1130–1140)
Ponce II, 1140–1155 (associat 1140–1142)
Hugh I, 1155–1185
Ponce III, regent 1185–1195
Peter III, regent 1195–1198
Hugh II, 1198 (nominally 1185–1221)
Hugh III, regent 1198–1220
Peter IV, 1221–1241
Eldiarda, regent 1220–1231
Simon, 1231–1247 (until 1241 as regent)
Hugh IV, 1262–1277, husband
Peter V, 1280–1285, also King of Aragon
Ponce IV, 1285–1291
Hugh V, 1291–1300
confiscated by the crown, 1300–1315
Ponce V, 1315–1322
briefly to the crown, 1331
Hugh VI, 1331–1335
Bernard II, 1335–1354
contested by the crown, 1335–1352
Bernard III, 1354–1368
to the crown, 1368–1381
to the Cabrera, 1381–1756William II, Count of Besalú
William II (Catalan: Guillem II: died 1066/1070) was the Count of Besalú from 1052 until his death, co-reigning for a time with his brother, Bernard II. He is described as having an "angry and violent character", a "notoriously irascible" man. According to the twelfth-century Deeds of the Counts of Barcelona, he was nicknamed Trunnus (Catalan el Tro) because he wore a false nose, having presumably lost his nose in battle.William was the eldest son and successor of William I "the Fat" and Adelaide. He married Stephanie, daughter of Count Geoffrey I of Provence. He had a son, Bernard III, and a daughter, Stephanie, who married Count Roger II of Foix.
William's reign was characterised by conflict with the church. He had to cede Bàscara to the bishopric of Girona. He associated his brother Bernard II, later his successor, with him as co-count. He was assassinated sometime between 1066 and 1070, and suspicion fell on his brother, who nonetheless succeeded to the county unopposed.