This Secret Catalan Village is Hiding Inside Spain's Mountainous Rocks

Parc Natural de la Serra de Montsant, Catalonia | © Eweleena/Shutterstock
Parc Natural de la Serra de Montsant, Catalonia | © Eweleena/Shutterstock
Have you ever heard of Margalef, the tiny Catalan village hidden among giant rock formations? A well-kept secret, this village of just 100 people is one of Spain’s most unique, where nature and humans have found an unusual way of living side by side.

Where is it?

Margalef is a small village located in the autonomous region of Catalonia, in Spain’s northwest. It sits approximately 77 kilometres northeast of the city of Tarragona, on the edge of the Parc Natural de la Serra de Montsant and only has around 100 residents. It’s remote and difficult to reach by public transport, so renting a car is a must if you’re thinking of visiting.

Margalef, Catalonia, Spain ©Gotta / Wikimedia Commons

What makes the village so unique?

The village is so fascinating because it’s literally built into the sides of the mountains. The houses here are hugged by the imposing conglomerate rock face, standing at 379 metres above sea level. Walking along its streets is akin to walking into a vast system of caves. In some places, the houses are so close to the rock, they almost touch.

Ermita de Sant Salvador, Margalef, Spain ©Arnaucc / Wikimedia Commons

What can I do here?

Other than its amazing rock formations, Margalef is known for its excellent rock climbing, and people travel from all over Catalonia just to climb here. There are over 500 climbing routes from the village, each of varying difficulty. Some of them take climbers to various nearby sights such as the Church of San Miguel Arcàngel, the Margalef reservoir, the Cave of the Taverna and the Cave of Miracles. Those who don’t want to climb in order to sightsee can visit the Ermita de Sant Salvador (above) – an old hermitage built into the rock crevices, around three kilometres from the village.

Rock climbing © fcja99/Pixabay

Besides rocks and climbing, Margalef is known for its delicious almonds, peaches and olive oils, which are grown and produced here. Typical dishes from the village include light sponge cake, flat crispy sweetbreads topped with nuts and dried fruit called cocas, escalivada (cold roasted vegetables) and truita en suc (Spanish tortilla in sauce). While exploring the village’s rock-carved streets, you can sample these dishes in one of Margalef’s few restaurants or rural hotels.

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