Man and nature have given this land what they do best: here, a small piece of heaven around a narrow valley; there, some gems from Roman and Baroque art on an altarpiece of a church. Reach for the sky to contemplate these highly perched chapels before being enchanted by the “fairy chimneys”. There are treasures in this land that you can't miss...
THE ORGUES OF ILLE-SUR-TÊT
In the Têt valley, halfway between sea and mountain, the Orgues site impresses with its astonishing natural sculptures called the “fairy chimneys”. A unique mineral landscape with coloured reliefs where clays and sands were shaped by water and blown off the Pyrenean massif then dropped in the Têt valley 5 million years ago.
THE HOSPICE OF ILLE-SUR-TÊT
The former hospital for the poor of Ille-sur-Têt (hospital dels pobres de la vila d’Illa) was founded in the late 13th century to welcome poor people and travellers. The current building dates from the 17th and 18th century and opens up on Saint-Jacques chapel. Since 1985, the “Hospici” has been a place of cultural heritage of the department. Art pieces from the medieval and baroque period are presented in the 21 alcoves, the chapel and the sacristy. Visiting the Hospici and its collections is an excellent introduction to the discovery of Catalonia’s heritage!
THE PRIORY OF SERRABONA
From its high rocky outcrop, the priory of Serrabona (10th century) rises in a magnificent way. It shelters a real treasure: 25 columns and close to 600 sculpted patterns in the famous Conflent marble evoking the apocalypse text, omnipresent in the medieval imaginary. Lions, eagles, griffins and centaurs fill this magical universe. A dazzling example of Catalan sculptors’ knowledge at the time. Before leaving, go for a stroll in the botanical garden. Vines, Mediterranean essences and several fig tree species compose this green heaven, for a walk through scents.
THE HERMITAGE OF NOTRE DAME DE DOMANOVA
Perched at the top of the hill overlooking the Têt valley, the hermitage of Domanova, source of inspiration for the poet Francis Catala, illustrates the popular devotion of Conflent thanks to its altarpiece from Sunyer. From the hermitage terrace, just look up to enjoy the astonishing view on the Canigó massif.
‘’Orris’’ of all sizes, low schist walls, centenarian olive trees, and of course a breath-taking view from this peak of the Roussillon plain : the climb up Força Real is definitely worth the journey. Contemplate the Corbières, the Mediterranean Sea up to the Albères and the Côte Vermeille from the fire brigade vantage point, and then admire the incredible panorama from the hermitage terrace. From there, the Canigó massif overlooks the Aspres, its valleys but also the Conflent, and the Têt valley.
MUSEUM OF PREHISTORY
In 1983, a collective sepulchre dated from -4500 B.C. was discovered in the cave of Bélesta. The excavations led by François Claustre permit to update an incredible collection of objects and marks tracing the Neolithic men history. These treasures are publicly exposed in the beautiful medieval castle of Bélesta. Staged in a ludic way, the Museum of Prehistory allows you to follow the footsteps of our ancestors and to understand the archaeologists’ work.
THE HERMITAGE OF SAINT MAURICE
It’s at the end of a path between Ille-sur-Têt and Corbère that you will discover the hermitage of Saint Maurice, leaned on the Aspres and surrounded by holm oaks. Classified Historical Monuments on the 24th of October of 1927, the original chapel dates from the pre-Romanesque period (10th century) and appeared for the first time in written documents of the 13th century. Renovated in the 18th century, it has an altarpiece in golden wood with marble painted columns made by the Navarre family.