Hiking in Collserola (3)
Last Monday we had lovely spring weather yet again and we decided to walk to Sant Cugat again through the natural park of Collserola.
The magnificent mountain range Serra de Collserola rises up over Barcelona Metropolitan Area. It is almost touching the city. For the huge population that lives around these mountains it forms a much-loved and incredibly valuable natural area and a great privilege to enjoy. Collserola is a well-preserved natural area – 22 times bigger than Central Park in New York. Though forest predominates it includes a variety of other plant formations that provide a habitat for valuable biological diversity as well.
Compared to the last walks we chose a different route that turned out to be quite spooky. During the whole walk we were nearly the only ones on the walking trails. Soon after our start the path got blocked by a seemingly wild hound that was not amused by seeing us. The dog was medium sized, had blood in his face and looked deranged. Michael and I froze – what to do? The dog snarled at us while Michael talked calmly to it. Should we try to go back? But with every move the dog snarled again and moved as well. I picked up a branch – not sure if it would help but I felt better with it. After a while (it felt like 10 minutes) the situation got finally solved. A cat climbed up a tree and distracted the dog that found it much more interesting to follow than gnarling at us. With the path cleared we continued very quickly our way.
Fifteen minutes later – still quite excited – we arrived at the site I had planned to visit: the ruins of the old Casino de la Rabassada located in the middle of nowhere.
“In 1899 the Grand Hotel de la Rabassada was built, decorated by the workshop of the French painter Edmon Lechavallier Chevignard, which was extended in 1911 with the construction of a casino, designed by the architect Andreu Audet i Puig, and an area of attractions. It was a pharaonic work that had a budget of 2.5 million pesetas, unusual at the time. More than 300 guests attended its inauguration on July 15, 1911, ten years after Tibidabo had opened. This majestic casino was the symbol of the luxury of a city in full economic expansion. It did not lack anything and even had its own amusement park, restaurant with large dining rooms and chefs from Paris, orchestra, hotel with luxury rooms, recreational rooms, public oratory, and grandiose gardens with exotic vegetation from various parts of the planet.” (source: Wikipedia)
However, its decline started shortly after its completion as the Spanish government forbade gambling. So the hotel and restaurant remained for several years until in 1930 it got finally closed. The building deteriorated and was used during the Civil War first as a refugee against bombing and then as barracks. In 1940 it got demolished.
After many decades, nature took back nearly the whole place. So, after the encounter with the wild dog trespassing the area was even more exciting for us. We discovered one major remainder:
We continued the path through the undergrowth and left the areas of the ruins (trespassing is actually forbidden) – nobody to be seen. Except when we coincidentally discovered the Fountain of Ribes and another surprise awaited: apparently a cat had chosen the solitude of the area to die. We felt a bit like in Stephen King´s “Pet Sematary” this day…
We kept a certain distance to the cat while watching her fast pacing breath, quick photo of the modernist fountain from 1909 and then we quickly walked further.
The rest of the walk was luckily without further incidents. We discovered many old chapels before arriving to Sant Cugat where we – after five hours of walking – really enjoyed a beer and a tapa.
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