Discover Romanesque Art in the Pyrenees: An Authentic Adventure


“Art is the expression of your relationship with the world. Art opens up the soul” — Pascale Montandon, artist. Quote from the book, Strappo: The Foreign Acquisition of Catalan Romanesque Art

By Carolyn Worthington

Sightseeing for sightseeing’s sake has never been the way I travel. Meaningful and purposeful travel is more my style. A weeklong cooking course across the pond, hiking a pilgrimage route, ski lessons to move beyond the bunny trail, or a guided birding trip to a national park are rewarding, experiential, totally different, and fun.

Probably like you, I often make a museum visit a must-do while on any trip. I tend to check out the museum’s most famous art pieces, zip through the other collections, and then make a beeline for a local restaurant, winery, craft brewery, or artisan shop.

Recently, choosing art and culture as a travel theme struck me. Why not build an active vacation around a unique cultural experience? When I ran across the idea of discovering Romanesque art in the Pyrenees, I was intrigued.

A trip focusing on the art and culture of Spain would be new and different. Although I wasn’t an art history major in college, I did love the Art History 101 course I took at New York University with H.W. Janson’s History of Art as my textbook (and which still lies on my bookshelf). Surely, I would be prepared for an art-based vacation. However, I was soon surprised by how an art trip could also be quite an adventure.

As you start your travel research, tourism boards are, of course, a good source for ideas. The welcoming invitation to all travelers on the Catalan Tourist Board’s website, for example, says it all:

Discover and experience the cultural treasures hidden in every nook and cranny of Catalonia. Come and discover the cultural heritage, traditions, gastronomy, wines, and by doing so, fall in love with our culture.

This seemed to encompass all the travel qualities I look for. (I love exploring “nooks and crannies!”)

So, if you are interested in art, culture, religious history, and European history; love to seek out chef-owned restaurants in the country; sample artisan foods, wine, and craft beer; and being active by hiking, kayaking, or canoeing, then discovering Romanesque art in the Pyrenees might be your next trip.

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