There are multiple small towns around Prades and Alcover worth visiting, in the area known as "Prades Mountains". I've grouped the towns of this area, the circular patch of green on the map, all together under the tab of "Alcover" and listed them as we visited them. However, the different towns could be combined differently since they are all close together.
Because I'm mixing many small sites under one name, I've listed where each photo was taken on the photo itself so you know which place it is. Prades has some accommodation options and makes for a good base.
- Day 1: Devil's Bridge, Alcover town, Alcover hike
- Day 2: Albiol, Prades town, Prades hike
- Day 3: Capafonts, La Mussara, El Mèdol
Day 1: Alcover
On our way up to the Prades Mountains we first stopped by the Aqueduct of Tarragona, known as the Pont del diable or Devil's Bridge in English. This was built during the 1st century and owes its name to the legend behind it: Once upon a time, they wanted to build an aqueduct here, but it kept collapsing for various reasons. And so a man called up a demon and asked for help. The demon agreed to build a bridge that would last 1000 years if he could keep the soul of the first one to cross it. With this agreement the bridge was built and the man, cheekily, sent a donkey first across the bridge. And so, the demon kept the soul of the donkey.
The bridge is still standing 2000 years later, so I really think the demon gave more than he got in this case! It's one of the Roman structures belonging to the UNESCO "Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco" along with the ruins in Tarragona and Altafulla, but since it's on the outskirts of Tarragona a car is needed to get here. There is a good view of the whole bridge from the road carpark and then there are some trails down to the base and to the bridge so one can walk across.
On our way up the windy roads we finally reached Alcover town. Really we just stopped here for a bit of a walk around town, stopping by the old church (or what’s left of it, at least) and the newer one, before we continued onwards.
For our hike of the day we hopped back in the car a while longer and went into the forest beyond the town. We left our car at Mas de Forès, an old masia (a “mas” is a large rural house, typically made of stone). Mas de Forès also had a miniature aqueduct, this one in use, and tables for picnics, but it wasn’t time for eating so we simply started our walk up to the Fonts del Glorieta, a pool with a waterfall. Along the way we passed by some abandoned farm huts as well as a large old, also abandoned, power plant that we could peer into thanks to its fallen down walls. The walk starts off fairly easy around the Mas, following a small canal, then goes into the forest, across the river "Barranc de la font de l’Om" and finally uphill to a point with some good views of the valley and the mountain of "Niu de l’àliga" (Eagle’s nest). We stopped here at the waterfall to eat, my family stayed on the rocks below but I still had some energy and walked up a few minutes more to the top of the waterfall for some views from there.
Overall, the walk took a little over 3h roundtrip, from the Mas to the Fonts de la Glorieta and back. The trail continues to the “Eagle’s nest” for those wanting a longer hike.
Day 2: Prades + l'Albiol
Day 3: Capafonts + La Mussara
Finally, for our last day we visited two more towns in the area, they can be done together in a 3h walk one way between them, but we drove.
From Capafonts town, there is a large parking there, we headed down to la Font de la Llúdriga (fountain of the otter). It was about an hour walk roundtrip, first along a gravel road and then a left turn down to the river and a pool called Les Tosques. That was the nicest pool in the area, but the trail continues along the river for a while longer, including a little waterfall, until the mentioned Llúdriga.
Personally, I felt the area was quite similar to the Alcover walk we had done, but Alcover was nicer. That said, this walk is appropriate for smaller children since it is much shorter, and a little beyond the Font de la Llúdriga is a cave, Cova de les Gralles (a "gralla" is a traditional Catalan instrument), which seems quite impressive in the photos. Unfortunately we didn't get that far because we weren't aware of its existence!
After some lunch in Prades we visited La Mussara, an abandoned town on the edge of a cliff. That makes it sound more dramatic than it actually is, there isn't too much to see but it's a nice stop if you're already in the area.
The town was slowly abandoned during the 20th century as the people were poor and the climate is arid. In fact, there is a corranda (traditional song and dance) featuring the town:
Mare, si marit em dau
no me'l dau de la Mussara
que la boira sempre hi jau
i la terra no m'agrada
(Mother, if you choose a husband for me / don't choose him from Mussara / there is always mist / and I don't like the soil)
The final stop of our trip, on our way back home, was related to the previous Roman site, the Pont del diable, as it also belongs to the same UNESCO group: El Mèdol. El Mèdol is the Roman quarry that was used to build many of the famous monuments and sites in the old Roman Tàrraco. It includes a big "witness column" that shows how far the quarry has been dug, but unfortunately it seems the area at the bottom of the quarry has been cut off for visitors and only the outside upper area can be visited now. Still, both Roman sites were very interesting and a nice bit of fresh air after driving around so many curvy roads during our stay in the Prades mountains!
Well, that was our trip to Prades, I hope it was helpful to anyone wanting to visit the area! While on weekends these places are popular with daytrippers, during the week they are very quiet and an ideal time to go.