Life above an abyss: how Spain got city on a rock with single street

There is a fantastic place 120 kilometres from Barcelona: on a narrow rocky plateau resembling a dragon’s tail, houses are located in two rows, and it’s even unique how they could fit in such a small area in width. The town of Castellfollit de la Roca, built on a rock many centuries ago, can without exaggeration be called a highlight of Spain, which is definitely worth a visit. Unless, of course, you have a fear of heights.

The basalt rock on which this town was built is located in Catalonia, in the natural park of the province of Girona. It was formed as a result of the collision of flows of volcanic lava. Moreover, nature built this rock in two stages: first, about 217 thousand years ago, during a volcanic eruption, a foundation for this rock was formed, and much later, however, also very, very long ago, another eruption seemed to have erected walls on purpose, creating something like a narrow plateau.

The height of the rock is 50 meters, and the area of the site on which this one single street with two rows of houses was built is only 670 square meters. Surprisingly, this small town, which some guidebooks even call a village, has many interesting sights.

There is only one street in the city, but there is a church
There is only one street in the city, but there is a church

It has its church (San Salvador), and its history begins in the 13th century when a chapel appeared there. During its existence, it has repeatedly been destroyed and even rebuilt. At the end of the last century, the church was completely restored by the townspeople’s efforts.

Castellfollit de la Roca has cafes and a bar and sausage museum, which has existed for 27 years. And, of course, there is an excellent observation deck. Guests of the city can admire the surrounding area, including road bridges, low-lying houses and rivers.

The city itself is about 800 years old and was originally erected as a fortification. Throughout its history, it has been destroyed more than once as a result of earthquakes and wars. However, his houses have retained the appearance of the Middle Ages.

Castellfollit de la Roca

The inhabitants used the same basalt formed from lava as a material for the construction. The roofs are covered with brown tiles. The spaces between the floors are decorated with ceramic decorations, and the cornices are covered with plaster. In general, the houses look cosy, elegant and imbued with the spirit of the European Middle Ages.

Castellfollit de la Roca

Interestingly, Castellfollit de la Roca, in which only a little over a thousand inhabitants can be counted, is considered one of the first cities in Spain where a telephone connection was established.

From time immemorial, people in different parts of the Earth have settled at high altitudes. Sometimes houses on mountains and rocks were built solely out of necessity, taking into account the geographical features of the area, or such a location was chosen for safety reasons. But sometimes, it was due to religious beliefs.

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