Nuria Valley in the Pyrenees
The Sunday after TBEX in Girona, together with some other bloggers we went to the Pyrenees. It was a looong day, trust me!
After almost no sleep the previous night when saying goodbye to some blogger friends (and I don’t even drink alcohol so imagine those who did the night before), and eating just an apple for breakfast that day, I was dying on the bus to the Pyrenees. It took around 3 hours so I was trying to get at least some sleep.
Then we reached Ribes de Freser where we hopped on the rack railway which after 12,5 km of stunning landscapes of the Pyrenees got us to the Nuria Valley. From around 900 m above sea level where the train starts we climbed up to around 2,000 m of Nuria Valley. I don’t remember having taken a rack train anywhere else before and getting out of each tunnel was a wow moment. On the way we saw a waterfall, river valley and the hiking trail as the only 2 ways to get to Nuria Valley are by train or trekking.
The first time I ever visited the Pyrenees was in 2005 and maybe I shouldn’t even call it a visit. We just drove twice through the mountains from France to Barcelona and then on the way back to Czech republic. This time in the Nuria Valley I really saw how beautiful the mountains are.
Our guide explained us the main things about the valley and we could see at least a small bit of the activities this place has to offer. Boating on the lake, horse-riding, trekking, golf, archery, guided tours, children playground … all this and much more in summer. And of course, skiing in winter.
We got a chance to see the biggest donkey in the world – the Catalan ass. Yes, this is what we saw?! Definitely, the biggest!
Nuria Valley is famous for the Sanctuary of the Virgin. Why a sanctuary in here? Wikipedia states that according to tradition, when Saint Giles lived here, he crafted a Virgin Mary and then hid it in a cave with a cross, a belt and a pot. Centuries later, a pilgrim was looking for the Virgin Mary image and built a chapel here for pilgrims. Nuria Valley has been a place of pilgrimage ever since and you can find a big number of crosses around the Valley. And as well uncountable Nurias – Nuria is a proper name which means light or illuminated. It is a popular name in Catalonia and every Nuria could actually pay to get her name on one of the stones inside of the chapel.
The wooden Romanesque carving of the Virgin Mary we can see nowadays in the sanctuary is from the 12th or 13th century.
There is another story connected to the found things that Saint Giles once hid. People come and return to Vall de Nuria (in Catalan) also because the cross, the belt and the pot represent fertility. So if for any reason you cannot have a baby, come to Nuria Valley with your loved one, kneel down on the stone, put your head into the cauldron and let your man/husband/lover ring the bell.
Once we heard all these interesting stories about the valley, we finally got a delicious lunch and were ready to take a gondola up the hill to get different views. There were cows and horses everywhere around, so cute! You have to walk around the youth hostel there to see more of the mountains.
On the way back we opted to walk down instead of taking the gondola again. I wish we had more time in the Nuria Valley to hike it all around but we had to take the train and the bus back to Girona. And on the way we stopped in Besalu to take photos of the famous bridge.
My trip to Nuria Valley was a press trip organized by Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona. All the thoughts in the article are my own as usual. For more information about Nuria Valley, please visit Nuria Valley website and Ajuntament Ribes de Freser website.