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MuseumTerres de l’Ebre

Montsià Mountain Range, scenery, forest and age-old country house

La Foradada Route

Montsià mountain range is the most southern orographic complex in Catalonia and is extremely important environmentally, a fact which is reflected in its inclusion in the Plan for Areas of Natural Interest (PEIN) and the Natura 2000 Network, as well as having been declared a Site of Community Interest (SCI) and Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).

From high up on the crest of the mountain range you can appreciate some of the most characteristic features which make this area so unique. Firstly, there is the vantage point, overlooking the Ebro delta and the Mediterranean coastline. Secondly, the Mediterranean vegetation which is dominated by scrubland and Holm oak trees which are dotted along the coast and cover slopes. But you can also see a somewhat rugged landscape, with narrow ravines, spectacular escarpments and exceptionally steep slopes, making it look completely inaccessible. Although there are no forest tracks, there is a dense network of well-signposted paths, some with environmental information.

Old human settlements, which are archaeological testimonies, can be found everywhere. In more recent times, the presence of hermits, shepherds, coal merchants and hunters etc. made this seemingly uninviting place, a land which was lived in and is now marked by human activity. Testimony to this now abandoned human activity is the many country houses and old cultivated plots which you can find throughout the mountain range. Recently, the mountains have become a new point of interest for local people and visitors to the region. It is becoming more and more frequented by people who are attracted by its nature and countryside, and who return time and time again to walk along the paths and tracks here.

The route we are suggesting here is one of the most visited and characteristic in these mountains, and it gives you the chance to discover the many natural and cultural assets of this natural area. During the route, you can enjoy age-old Holm oak forests, sign-posted paths and areas with explanatory panels showing traditional activities such as how lime was made, plus there are abandoned country houses with lots of history, such as Mas’a de Matarredona, and an unbeatable viewpoint from where you can see the countryside in the mountains and the Ebro Delta.

The route begins in Cocó de Jordi in Sant Carles de la Ràpita, where you take a sign-posted path into Burgar forest, one of the most emblematic places in the Montsià mountain range. This type of Holm oak forest is the most quintessential throughout the Mediterranean. Inside the forest there is an area with explanatory panels which inform the reader of how wood and firewood has been used, and was already documented during the second half of the twelfth century

Wood from Holm oaks was used for making tools, furniture and even building boats. The firewood was used in the forest itself as fuel for limestone ovens, as well as in houses for making fires, although it was often made into coal for transport reasons.

The lush dense vegetation, which is highly interesting both on an ecological and scenic level, has slowly moved further back from the Mediterranean coastline, and houses incredible biodiversity including numerous species of invertebrates such as the Greater Capricorn Beetle (Cerambix cerdo) and the spectacular Two-tailed Pasha butterfly (Charaxes jasius), reptiles like the Ladder snake (Elaphe scalaris), Horseshoe Whip snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) and the Slow worm (Anguis fragilis) or mammals such as the wild boar (Sus scrofa), common genet (Genetta genetta), badger (Meles meles), weasel (Mustela nivalis) and stone marten (Martes foina). As far as birds are concerned, there are a great number of small birds, including the great tit (Parus major), common blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), European crested tit (Lophophanes cristatus), the long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus), goldcrest (Regulus sp), European robin (Erithacus rubecula), Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), dunnock (Prunella modularis), common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), common blackbird (Turdus merula) plus various species of lesser whitethroats (Sylvia sp), and other larger birds like the common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) are also plentiful. Also, if you are lucky, you will be able to observe one of the birds of prey which live in the forests and along the cliffs in this mountain range, such as the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) or the queen of the land, the endangered Bonelli's eagle (Aquila fasciata).

Before continuing with your walk, you can have a short rest at Burgar fountain, with its characteristic terraced land and stone sinks, this damp environment is home to amphibians such as the common toad (Bufo bufo), natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita), common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans) and the palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus).

Follow the path out of the forest until you reach Matarredona plain, with a country house of the same name. In this land of cultivated terraces lives the largest and one of the most characteristic species of reptiles in the area, the ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus), there are also birds like the woodchat shrike (Lanius senator), black-eared wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), and in the spring there is a great variety of butterflies and other insects which feed on the many different flowers growing in the area. After crossing some well preserved scrubland you will reach Foradada, at a height of 680m and from where you can contemplate the magnificent views of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, the Ebro coastline and the Ebro Delta.

To return, take the PR82, following the signs through "La Rueda" one of the oldest cultivated areas belonging to Matarredona country house, and at the fork in the path keep going straight on. The path you leave behind on your left goes back to Burgar fountain. After the steep descent of Manigueta hill, you come to the end of the route, right back at the starting point, Cocó de Jordi.

The educational and tourist services at Terres de l'Ebre Museum have developed this and many other routes which can be taken, to discover the natural and cultural heritage of Montsià. You can get more information at www.museuterresebre.cat, send mail to info@museuterresebre.cat or call tel. 977 702 954