The tiny village of Siurana was the last Saracen Muslim stronghold in Catalunya and the last bastion of the Christian reconquest. In 1153, when all the rest of the villages and towns in the area had already been conquered by the Christians, Siurana maintained its independence, and contained the Muslim border, thanks to its strategic location at the top of the hill, in an inaccessible escarpment. Knights from four counties were needed to conquer Siurana, which had maintained its positioned for three hundred years.
The legend of Siurana
The end was tragic. The legend says that Abdelazaia, the Moorish Queen, decided to jump off the cliff to avoid falling on the hands of the Christian conquerors. In her quest to jump off, she rode her white horse to the edge of the cliff but the animal got scared at the last minute and tried to stop. The horse’s horseshoe imprint is left on the rock, at the edge, as sign of its resistance to death.
Today, Siurana is a beautifully romantic village hanging off the side of a cliff and a favourite destination for rock climbers with climbs of 9b class. The area is tiny and can be seen in less than one hour, but you can join a guided tour to better understand all the details and legends behind the town, they run every weekend at noon and are organised by the Tourism Office at Cornudella.
What to do in Siurana
If you cannot make one of the tours, you can just wander Siurana’s narrow pedestrian cobblestone streets and look for a couple of the most important sights.
The Romanesque church was built between the 12th and 13th century and it preserved in its entirety. Its doorway has a tympanum, framed by three archivolts resting on columns with capitols decorated with various motifs. The church is located at the tip of the village, above the Siurana river with majestic 360 degree views over the mountain range and the horizon. It is a beautiful sight to behold.
Siurana also have the remains of a Moorish castle which was a military building called “hisn” built in the IX Century as a control center for the entire region thanks to its strategic location. Sadly, the castle was not preserved as well as the church but restoration works have started and the defense towers can already be seen. You will find the castle along the edge, on the same side as the church.
The castle is also important because its conquest was planned by Ramon Berenguer IV for years before the conquest materialised. Under the Christian Kings power, the castle passed hands and was used as dowry for Catalan Queens.
Where to stay in Siurana
Siurana is a tiny place and, given its location of difficult access, very few people live there full time so tourism has brought new light to an otherwise sleepy and disappearing village. The houses are made of stone and most were built during Medieval times. They are quaint and beautiful.
The best place to stay is The Mirador de Siurana, a comfortable hotel before the entrance to the village with incredible views over the town, a swimming pool and an outdoor terrace. The only downside?
The hotel is only available for bookings in its entirety since 2015 at a rate of 1,850 euro for two nights and three days. It has 5 double rooms and one single one.
Other great options in town are Hotel La Siuranella, right in the middle of the village, offering six quaint rural rooms in one of the old stone houses with a pool.
Also in town is Can Font, another stone town rural house for rent. It has three rooms and it was renovated in 2013 by a lover of Siurana.
If you are into camping, Camping Siurana is the best bet. Located a few minutes walk away from the village, on the way there, the tents can be placed by cliff under a shaded tree area.
Climbers and trekkers usually stay at Refugi Siurana, a shelter managed by the Catalan Trekking Association, with three shared rooms Sleeping six people each and shared bathrooms in the middle of the village. Location is great and the stone building has rooms built around the stone walls in an impressive architecture. Accommodation prices are lowest at around 15-20euro per night and it is a great place to meet fellow trekkers and climbers. Breakfast can be enjoyed in its outdoor terrace, not recommended for those with fear of heights, like the rest of Siurana.
Where to eat
If you are coming to Siurana to join one of the guided tours, then you will be done by Catalan lunch time so stay in before leaving to your next destination. There are a couple of restaurants in town, including the one at the Hotel La Siuranella.
Some of the photos are credited to the Tourism of Siurana website