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Life and Legend. Episode 2. The secrets of the Canigó.

Episode 2. The secrets of the Canigó.

One of the most emblematic places in Canigó, for all its history and inspiration, is L'Abadia de Sant Marti del Canigó.

The Great-grandson of Guifré el Pelós, Count of Conflent and Cerdanya, Guifré II founded Sant Martí del Canigó with the help of his younger brother, Abbot Oliba, blessed of the Sant Miquel de Cuixà abbey, of which he became the father Abbot in 1008.

The Sant Martí del Canigó Abbey celebrated its millennium in 2009.

In 1783 the monastery was abandoned, seized during the French Revolution, and bought by a local owner. For more than a century, its former splendor could not be recognized.

"It took the inspiration of a Jacint Verdaguer and the encouragement of a Monsignor Juli Carsalade du Pont to undertake the restoration of this place that only had the appearance of a pile of ruins. Once reacquired, the Bishop of Canigó » did, a petition addressed to the Catalan people in 1902. On November 11, a procession estimated at around 2,000 people, coming from Roussillon and Catalonia, accompanied him to the abbey where the official possession ceremony took place: it was, more than to raise some ruins, to revive the initial vocation of Sant Martí del Canigó, since "it is forever" that the founders "had destined the sons of Sant Benet on this famous mountain that symbolizes the heart of Catalonia."

The secrets of the Canigó.

The Dragon of the Canigó; the bouquet of San Juan; the Witches of Villefranche de Conflent; the highway robbers of Trabucayres whose treasure has never been found; or even the Fêtes del Ours, an ancestral equinox rite, are some of the secrets and magic of this emblematic place.

The Dragon of the Canigó.

"In 1285, King Pedro III of Aragon "the Great" risked revealing the secret of Mount Canigó and wanted to discover what aroused so much fear among the local population.

Accompanied by two knights, he began the ascent of the majestic mountain. A terrible storm broke out and made the two knights give up. The king continued alone and already near the top, he discovered a lake where he threw a stone. Immediately, a huge and hideous dragon came out of the water, flying into its surroundings and darkening the air with its black breath. The king stood still, looked at the monster for a long time, and went down to tell what he had seen.

This is how a mountain, a king, and a dragon are united today in the same symbology. On the summer solstice, the Nyerros del Conflent dares to challenge the waters of the legendary Estanyol by throwing stones. The Canigó dragon has come out to accompany them in the correfocs and detonations."

El Drac del Canigó. Anne Zamo. France. ( Saatchi Art )

The Bouquet of San Juan.

It is a mixture of several lucky herbs: St. John's wort, walnut leaf, stonecrop and immortelle. This composition of plants, each of which has therapeutic virtues, guarantees health and longevity. These herbs are collected on the night of June 23. The bouquet is then placed at the front door or above the fireplace. The bouquet of the previous year will be thrown into the fire of San Juan.,

he Witches of Vilafranca de Conflent.

Whether you enter through the Puerta de España or Puerta de Francia, you will be amazed by the imposing walls and the secrets of the city that are hidden inside.

The town of Vilafranca de Conflent, a place well known for its witches, is almost a thousand years old and was ordered to be built by Guillem Jordà, Count of Cerdanya. To fill it with people, the count brought some criminals who were in prison. He offered freedom in exchange for them living forever in the town, today packed with narrow streets where there are shops full of witches. The best known is one called Samanta, and she is 385 years old.

The walls of the medieval city of Vilafranca de Conflent: The beauty of this place was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Vauban's work in the seventeenth century, the walls hide a string of secrets that he will discover during guided tours.

This site is also the scene of many stories and is part of the rich heritage of the Conflent. Behind these walls, you will find a small city full of life, with numerous craft shops.

Legend has it that, in the distant past, when magic and witchcraft were common, witches hid in the caves of the Conflent, where they spent the winter. When winter ended, they got on their brooms and left the caves to celebrate the arrival of spring with the people of Villafranca, bringing them happiness, joy, and prosperity for the whole year.

Thus, it has become a Catalan tradition to offer someone close to a child a witch as a sign of friendship. You have to hang it at home or in the children's room, to ward off evil spirits and make room for happiness.


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