Day Trip Rucksack
Small 10L day trip and museums rucksack
Cardona is a town in the Spanish region of Catalonia about 90km north west of Barcelona and about 30Km north west of Manresa. Cardona was a stragecially important town in Catalonia providing Potasium chloride (salt) for medicines, food preservation, fertilizer and industrial processes.
This page is about a day trip or weekend visit to Cardona to discover the Caslte, salt mines and medieval town centre.
Cardona has a great mountain of pure salt that grows as it is extracted. This is how Aulus Gellius (Roman Author) described the Cardona salt Mountain. It has always been one of the most important potassium salt mines in the world. La mina de Sal, Cardona, is loaced in a depression of land shaped like a long bowl and covers an area of 100 hectares. It has been exploited as an open mine since the Neolithic era, and from 1900 to 1990 through tunneling extraction, following the discovery of potassium salts by the engineer Emili Viader i Sole. Locally the salt mountain is known as Muntanya de Sal and the mines are refered to as mina nieves - snow mines because of the white desposits of salt crystals in all the rocks.
Cardona Castle has dominated the highest point in the town since the 9th century, an ideal location for controlling the valley of the river Cardoner and the salt mines. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it was the residence of the lords of Cardona, but its importance as a residence gradually declined as it became, a strategic stronghold to protect the salt. In 1714, the castle of Cardona was the last fortress to surrender to the Bourbon troops in 1714, during the War of the Spanish Succession.
Construction of the imposing Castle started two thousand five hundred years ago. During the Middle Ages it was home to the Dukes of Cardona. Centuries and centuries of history lie behind this unbreachable fortress, which is also site of the remarkable Collegiate Church of Sant Vicenc, a jewel of Catalan Romanesque gothic architecture.
It was because of the salt (white gold!) that the Lords of Cardona were known as the Kings without a Crown.
When visiting Cardona I recommend visiting the Castle, Salt mine, Salt mine museum (salt mountain cultural park) and the historic centre of Cardona.
When you get to the salt mine you head for the green tall mine head shaft where you will find a visitors car park and reception building. here you will be given a hard hat for the guided tour.
From the reception area visitors are driven in an open top bus or land rover about 1km to the tourist entrance to the mine where the guided tour starts. The tour lasts about 1 hour and includes descriptive visits to various caverns inside the mine down to a depth of 86 metres to view the splendour and spectacular nature of the different folds and seams.
Once you have finished the mine guided tour you are directed to the Mine museum space. This is a museum with industrial exhibits from the mining process. It is located in the mineshaft machine building. The shaft machinery was designed and built by Alsthom (now known as Alstom) in the 1920's. In the basement there is a photography exhibition.
included with the entry ticket, a stroll around the above ground former mining facilities: The museum area is located under the imposing headframe structure of the old mineshaft, which is known as Maria Teresa. It is an open space that features a presentation of the history of salt mining, the geology, mineralogy and the botany of this Site of Natural Interest - salt mountain cultural park.
The former carpenter's shop and mechanical workshop is now home to the Salt Handicraft Centre, Art-Sal, and the Memory of the Women of the Mining Colonies exhibition. It now houses a cafe with outside terrace plus the gift shop.
Cardona Castle is FREE to enter. However, I recommend the guided visit because it includes access to some areas that are not open to the general public as well as a description of some exhibits related to storage and transport of the salt.
Inside Cardona castle is Torre de la Minyona A moorish style tower that you can walk up via steps to a magnificent 360 degree viewpoint.
At the centre of Cardona castle is collegiate church of saint vincens, built between the years 1019 and 1040. Outside of the church you will see the remains of the cloister buildings.
For a snack or if planning a weekend trip to Cardona, I recommend Parador de Cardona, a hotel inside the castle walls, next to the Minyona tower.
I recommend sending time in Plaza de la Fira. This is the historic market square of the town and has great views of the castle as well as Sant Miquel de Cardona church. In and around this square you will find bars and bakeries.
I strongly advise booking tickets online and in advance for the Castle and Salt mine as places are limited. Alternatively book the guided tour that includes the salt mine, castle and historic town centre.
The salt mine is below ground and a lot cooler so take a fleece jacket. You will be provided with a hard hat for the salt mine visit. No other specialist clothes or torches are needed.
Equally, I would throw in a poncho if there is a risk of rain. Although a town visit, the mine, castle visit plus exploring the town will involve several kilometers of walking so comfortable shoes are advisable.
Small 10L day trip and museums rucksack
Lightweight convertible trousers that zip down to shorts
Lightweight comfortable trail shoes
Ankle spring/summer socks
Light weight warm fleece
Light weight cotton quick dry T-shirt
Reusable, refillable 1L water bottle.
Small folded lightweight Water proof poncho for emergencies
Address: Carraterra de la Mina s/n, Cardona. 08261
To reach Cardona there is a regular bus service that covers the Barcelona-Andorra route. The company ALSA runs four buses a day to Cardona. Cardona does not have a train station but the neighbouring city of Manresa, 30 km from Cardona, has both RENFE and FGC railway services that connect to Barcelona. From Manresa you can get a bus or taxi (for about 60 euros).
I got a bus from barcelona, departing from Estacio de Nord bus terminal near Metro and Renfe Arc de Triumfo on the red (L1) line. This took about 1 hour, 45 minutes to get to Cardona.
To check the bus timetable and buy tickets consult the Alsa website.
There are only two busses from Barcelona to Cardona per day. To allow time to visit the castle and salt mine select the morning bus departing Barcelona at 06:30 and the return bus departing 17:14 from Cardona.