Lleida City Guide

While Lleida in many ways doesn't compare to any of the other provincial capitals it is an attractive city and is definitely worth a stop, especially if you're travelling through this spectacular province. The area of most interest is the old town, north of the River Segre which runs through its centre, and marked by the boundaries of the river and the Rambla d'Aragó.

History

Lleida's earliest influence of note was from the Romans who populated the city they called Ilerda from about 200AD though much of its history since then was marked by invasion and war, resulting in considerable destruction. This continued right up until the end of the Spanish Civil war (1936-1939) which not only left the city in ruins but with a population of just 40,000. The city has since seen large scale investment in both historical renovation and infrastructure including a high speed rail link to both Barcelona and Madrid. Its wealth, or sometimes lack of it is based mainly on agriculture, the plains to the south of the city being some of the most fertile in Catalunya.

For the time being Lleida remains relatively unknown but be prepared to hear lots more about the city and its province. A new airport is planned for the town of Alguaire just a few kilometres north of the capital and the publicity and tourism the inevitable low cost flights will generate are sure to put it firmly on the map.

The Seu Vella

Built high above the Riu Segre, and looking across the fertile plains of the province, the Seu Vella, or 'Old Cathedral' commands the best vantage point in the city. Work began on the cathedral early in the 13th century within the walls of La Suda, the existing Moorish fortification, and by the mid-15th century the cloisters and 60m bell tower were completed. The Cathedral is of the transitional styles between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It is a short walk from the city centre and can be reached by the lift in Placa de Joan.

Modernist Lleida

There are a dozen or so Modernist buildings in the city centre and and its suburbs. Many of them have been recently restored and display the decorative ironwork, stonework and stained glass that are key features of Modernist architecture. The Escorxador, or Old Slaughterhouse has been restored as the city's main theatre. There are other industrial and agricultural buildings including La Meta Flourmill, and the Mercat del Pla and restored Modernist houses can be found along the Carrer Major, Rambla d'Arago, and Avinguda Blondel.

Raimat Wine Cellars

A few kilometres north of Lleida are the Raimat Wine Cellars. The land has been in the Raventos family since the early 1900s who through irrigation and development have turned the area into the largest vineyard in Spain. Full-scale commercial production started in the 1970s and Raimat now produces nearly 5 million bottles of red,rosť, white and sparkling wines. The estate was further developed with around a hundred houses, grain warehouses and the 'Cathedral of Wine' winery designed by Modernist architect Rubio i Bellver using innovative new materials such as concrete! The ruined castle of Raimat was also renovated and is now used by the estate for business and private functions. Guided tours and tastings are available mornings only and, usually only during the week if booked in advance.