Some of the most important Romanesque architecture in Catalonia, indeed the world, is to be found in this town, located at the confluence of the rivers Freser and Ter. Surrounded by woods, rivers and peaks, Ripoll, in the midst of magnificent pre-Pyrenean countryside, is overflowing with history. MONASTERY OF SANTA MARIA
The jewel in the crown of Ripoll is the Monastery of Santa Maria, also known as the cradle of Catalonia. Located in the Plaça de l’Abat Oliba, it was founded by Count Guifré el Pelós (Wilfred the Hairy) in 879 and went on to become a religious centre of the very first order. The portal, one of the most important Romanesque works in the world, has recently been restored to reveal the medieval polychrome of the Christ Pantocrator. CHURCH OF SANT PERE
The church of Sant Pere, consecrated in 890 as a parish church, is in the same square as the Monastery of Santa Maria. It has recently been refurbished for use as a cultural centre, having previously been used for more than 30 years as a warehouse. It has not been used for religious purposes since the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, when it was sacked and the retables destroyed. ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM
Without leaving the Plaça de l’abat Oliba you can pay a visit to the Ethnographic Museum which has 12 collections explaining the life of the country folk, their trades and occupations such as shepherding, life in the home and religious life, as well as other aspects of people's lives in Ripoll and Girona's pre-Pyrenees. Don't miss the section on forges and iron, essential elements of the Ripollès economy since the Middle Ages. There is also a collection of portable Ripoll firearms, items that achieved international fame. PALAU FORGE
A few-minutes walk in the direction of the river Freser, in the Passeig de la Farga Catalana, will take you to the "Farga Palau" (Palau Forge). It was established as an iron foundry in the 17th century, later becoming a coppersmith's and not closing until 1978. It is an interesting place to visit because it is the only remaining complete forge left in Catalonia and it has, furthermore, been declared a Historical Landmark by the American Society for Metals. TRAILS IN THE SURROUNDING AREA
As well as these places of historical and cultural interest you shouldn't leave Ripoll without tasting some of its culinary offerings, such as its renowned cured sausages, or visiting the countryside at closer quarters. The Pyrenees are just a stone's throw away! Maybe you'd like to follow these trails on foot. They'll lead you to the four hilltops surrounding Ripoll, from where there are excellent views of the town.
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