Living in Barcelona can get very intense. Lots of sleepless nights, lots of tourists, lots of ever-changing friends, lots of activities and overstimulating impressions. And although that’s exatly what I love and cherish about Barcelona, it’s good to leave the busy city now and then and feel a more village-like vibe. And you don’t even have to go far to find what you’re searching for. There are many small cities in Catalonia with beautiful old towns, picturesque architecture and narrow alleys. One city I’ve never heard of before – despite the fact of living in Barcelona for two years – is Vic. In fact, I heard about it randomly while having a beer with my friend on Plaça del Sol in Grácia. We were keen to go on a get-away the next day, with no idea where to go. As we started talking with a total stranger asking for advice – like always when drinking at Plaça del Sol – we were told to go to Vic. And so we did the next morning! While discovering this cute small town I felt as if I travelled in time. So for all (time-) travellers, here’s a little review on my day trip to Vic in ancient Catalonia.
To be honest, we didn’t even research on what to do in Vic. We just trusted blindly the advice of the stranger on Plaça del Sol aka our nameless friend for one evening. In German, we have a word for taking decisions in the hyper rush of tipsiness: "Schapsidee" literally translates into "booze idea". So I guess you can say it was a "Schapsidee" to go to Vic. But I can tell you, it was a good one! You can get to Vic from any bigger train station in Barcelona that offers a connection with the renfe train (a return ticket costs 12,60 Euro). It’s about one and a half hours away, driving through fields of canola, forests and the imposing Montseny mountains (I swear at some point I felt like being on the train to Hogwarts). As we arrived in Vic we decided to simply stroll around the city and get lost in the unknown streets. I always love to do so, as each discovery of something beautiful feels like finding a treasure. Vic is indeed very provincial, but in the cutest way possible. I was surprised by the architectonic style that holds some Moroccan influences, like in Andalusia. Only a few of those beautiful streets away from the train station, we already arrived at the big Plaza Mayor. This square with a golden, sandy ground is bigger than any square in Barcelona which is impressive regarding the small size the town. The Plaza Mayor is surrounded by beautiful Catalan buildings including the city hall, cafés with people eating ice cream and lots of young students enjoying their free time in-between their Erasmus courses.
Only five minutes walking later, we found ourselves in front of the Roman Cathaolic cathedral of Vic, which is one of my highlights of the day trip! We crossed a Romanesque bridge over a river and green grass fields, until we reached the beautiful cathedral that was build in the year 516, destroyed during an Arab raid in 717–718, again rebuilt in 886 and remodelled in the 11th century with some further changes in the 14th century. Because of the constant remodelling by different architects with different influences, the architecture is a real pot-pourri of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassic styles (and no, I did not get this conclusion by myself, but from a little research on the internet – I admit it). But nonetheless, I was fascinated by this unique cathedral. Cathedrals have always impressed me, since they used to be the architectonic showcases of each city. And I fell in love with this one with its interesting features and history! So we spent a while sitting in front it, eating delicious churros with hot chocolate sauce (I recently found out that churros were vegan and it changed my life – I’m basically turning into half human, half churro).
Again, only five minutes walking away from the cathedral (I feel like everything in this town is only 5 minutes walking distance apart), we discovered the cultural heritage of Vic: the Roman Temple, representing the hidden remains of ancient Ausa. In 1882, when the Romanesque castle of Montcada was destroyed, the remains of the Roman Temple appeared among the ruins. And how it turned out, this was the ancient Roman Temple of Ausa, preserved in excellent conditions. The building dates from the 2nd century, after the Roman conquest of Hispania. The reconstruction lasted for 77 years, 1883–1959, but it is currently one of only two Roman Temples throughout Spain being almost perfectly preserved. While admiring the eight columns of the temple, I had the impression of having travelled in time. So if you, too, want to travel in time for a bit, the Roman Temple of Vic is definitely worth a visit!
Besides those must-sees, there are many more activities around the town, like visiting the Episcopal Museum of Vic (one of Europe's leading museums, housing one of the best collections of Romanesque and Gothic art in the world) or grabbing lunch in one of the many restaurants (for the vegans and vegetarians among you, I can recommend the restaurant Agape). Anyhow, if you’re searching for a short get-away around Barcelona, a day trip to Vic in ancient Catalonia will surely mesmerize you!
Сover photo © credits: iStock/JackF
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