La Jonquera

The area around La Jonquera is one of the places with the greatest wealth of this kind of prehistoric monuments in L’Albera, especially in the areas of Mas Baleta, Els Estanys, Canadal, Requesens and Sant Pere de Pla de l’Arca.

The mark left by the Romans is the main Roman road that linked Rome with the Iberian Peninsula, known as the Via Domitia, which further on becomes the Via Augusta as it goes over the Panissars pass. This densely populated town, which would serve as the area’s capital, grew up in the Late Middle Ages. It is situated in the middle of a fertile plain and therefore in an area with greater agricultural potential than other more forested terrain.

The Treaty of the Pyrenees, which was signed between the Spanish and French monarchies in 1659, was an important event in the local history of La Jonquera, as it stipulated that Roussillon was to be transferred to France and it designated a border that would follow the line of the southern crest of the Pyrenees, making La Jonquera a border town. Towards the 1730s, La Jonquera entered a long spell of relative progress and prosperity. This improvement resulted not only from the increase in border traffic and trade, but particularly from a more intense exploitation of the area’s natural resources, especially the forest (firewood and cork) and wastelands on which vines and cork oaks could be planted. This economic development brought with it an increase in population, as a result of which the old
limits of La Jonquera were forced to expand into new districts to the east and south, which would transform the town’s appearance.

The Can Laporta Cultural Centre provides an information point and permanent exhibition for the L’Albera National Interest Natural Site. It offers a great deal of information about the area and a very interesting exhibition about the flora, fauna and cultural heritage of the mountains.

The Exile Memorial Museum (MUME) is a recently created facility that allows visitors to find out about the history of the republican exile of 1939 following the Spanish Civil War of 1936. The idea of it is also to remember and acknowledge all the men and women who fought for their rights and for the democratic values of the Republic of 1931. At the same time, although the republican exile is central to the concept of this museum, it also contemplates exile as a universal phenomenon of great importance throughout the 20th century and even today. This link between the past and the present is reflected in the temporary activities (exhibitions, conferences, concerts, etc.) that the museum organises on a regular basis.

The parish church of Santa Maria was completed in 1791.

The remains of Rocabertí castle can be found on top of a granite crag to the north of Santa Llúcia, strategically dominating the hills of the L’Albera mountain range.

Requesens castle, which is situated right in the centre of the L’Albera area, was at its height in the 19th century. The current building is a neo-medieval reconstruction of the old 13th century castle. The spectacular defensive features, which are not typical of the regional tradition, give the building an appearance of fantasy and legend. It is possible to visit it.

The megalithic nature route of the ponds of La Jonquera takes us around the area, past dolmens and menhirs and the three ponds of Canadal. The way is marked by explanatory panels. The landscape is swampy, interspersed with crops and cork oaks.

Canadal castle stands 1 km south-east of the town. It marks the centre of the old neighbourhood of Canadal, with a scattering of country houses, next to the churches of Santa Cristina or Sant Jaume de Canadal (14th-15th century). On the eastern side of the town is the Carmanxel tower, a small 18th-19th century fort, which is currently used as a mountain refuge with 18 bunks, showers and toilets. On the western side of the town is the Serrat de la Plaça tower, which was built at a similar time and is now used as a viewpoint.

The proto-industrial route around Requesens castle is marked by explanatory signs. Apart from offering magnificent views of the area, one can see a whole series of industrial buildings from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, including a sawmill, a small reservoir and a power plant, a lime kiln, charcoal works, brickworks, etc.

The chapel of Santa Llúcia in Sant Miquel de Solans, which is the presentday church, has been documented since the 10th century and is built in a late Romanesque style. It is situated about 4 km north-east of the town, in a recreation area used by the people of La Jonquera and the Empordà region when they wish to spend time in the countryside and admire the area from this fantastic vantage point. On Easter Monday there is a procession dedicated to the Virgin, which is attended by many people from the Empordà region and Roussillon who get together to celebrate the event.

Towards the source of the river Llobregat are the ruins of the chapel of Sant Pere del Pla de l’Arca (10th century). It stands on a rocky hill 6 km north-west of La Jonquera. It dates back to the 12th century, but there are earlier pre-Romanesque remains. It is the chapel of the district of Sant Julià dels Torts, which is situated in the bottom of the valley, where a few houses are still inhabited, particularly as second homes.

The chapel of Sant Martí del Forn del Vidre is situated between La Jonquera and Le Perthus, on the rise of a hill next to the N-II road, on the left bank of the river Llobregat. It is an interesting example of 10th century Romanesque architecture, with certain features that make it unique.

On the way from Requesens to Sant Climent Sescebes lie the remains of the Romanesque church of Santa Maria de Requesens (10th-11th century). The shrine of the Mare de Déu de Requesens is surrounded by 18th century buildings in the village of Requesens. Every year the shrine is the destination of processions from different towns in the area, such as Mollet de Peralada and Cantallops. A particularly well known one is the “Processió de la Tramuntana” (North wind procession) which starts in Figueres. People from all the surrounding towns join this famous procession to ask for the north wind to blow and relieve the region of mosquitoes and plague.

The ruined 10th century monastery of Santa Maria de Panissars lies on the border itself, beside the Panissars pass to the west of Bellaguarda castle in the municipality of Le Perthus.

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