Hiking in Catalonia, Spain

Ruins near Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes

Cap De Creus is a beautiful Spanish national park in the province of Girona between the towns of Roses and Port de la Selva. While this hike is not especially challenging, you can expect to enjoy a well-preserved balance of natural scenery and historic ruins. The loop should take up to 2 1/2 hours, so make sure you bring water, snacks, and sun protection.


Total Distance 2.25 miles
Configuration Loop
Elevation at Trailhead 1650 feet
Highest Elevation 2,215 feet
Total Elevation Gain 797 feet
Trail and Trail Surface Well maintained and signed, wide trail, dirt, loose and embedded rock, occasional unevenness.
Facilities Water, restrooms, shade pavilion, map, parking
Location of Trailhead Camí del Monestir, s/n, 17489 El Port de la Selva, Girona, Spain


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Cap de Creus

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Cap de Creus: 42.323715, 3.166637


The parking lot to access the trail is located at Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes. Construction began on the Benedictine Monastery in 822 and it was consecrated exactly 200 years later. It was built on the side of the Verdera mountain to withstand invasion, so this location offers a sweeping view of the whole coastline. From here, follow the Northwest trail to Ermita de Santa Helena along a slight incline.


You will shortly arrive at the church pictured below. A millennium ago, this would have been the center of a small but fortified town. Archaeologists carefully excavated the site in 1989-91, allowing hikers to view the ruins of the homes and the stone wall that surrounds the settlement. I recommend taking the time to read the informational signs about the history of the settlement before continuing along the original trail.



Shortly after the hermitage, the trail bends sharply to the left to head southerly to Castell de Sant Salvador de Verdera. The section of the trail leading to the castle zig-zags up the mountain and contains nearly all the elevation gain for the entire hike. The trail is relatively thin along this stretch, so be vigilant of the path and don’t follow any of the animal trails that jut off from the main route.



The castle is remarkably well preserved. The arches are still standing, and you can see the distinct functions of various rooms, like the rainwater reservoir and the toilet. Also, like the monastery and the hermitage, you can see the defensive structures like the angled slits in the perimeter wall used to shoot at attackers from safety. When you are done soaking in the spectacular view, you can follow the right-most trail that descends directly to the monastery.



Overall, I thought this was a beautiful hike. Especially from the perspective of an Arizona hiker, the historic ruins along with the Mediterranean climate made for a fresh and exciting experience. The landscape is vibrant, and the ruins provide fascinating insight to an ancient time. If you ever find yourself in Catalonia, Cap De Creus is an absolute essential.

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