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By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Our Editorial team's advice

Lleida is a city of undeniable historical importance: a stopping point on the Way of St. James, the city, like the region, offers plenty of attractions. Located at the heart of the Catalan hinterland, the area boasts several natural parks which are ideal for hiking, canyoning, and paragliding. Exploring Lleida is also a great way to immerse yourself in the Catalan way of life. Gastronomy is an important aspect of the region, with its well-known specialities and olive oils that have earned controlled designation of origin status. The region surrounding Lleida is home to many charming establishments, such as the famous Castell Ciutat in La Seu d'Urgell, a few miles from Andorra, which is a Relais and Châteux hotel owned by none other than Jaume Tapies, the president of this prestigious hotel association.

To see

Not to be missed
Seu Vella, Nova Cathedral, the Templar Castle of Gardeny, La Paeria Palace, the old Hospital of Santa Maria, San Jaume Chapel, the churches of Sant Martí and Sant Llorenc, a stroll through the modern centre of Lleida, the Museum of Lleida, La Panera Art Centre, Jaume Morera Museum, the Water Museum, and the Roda Roda Automobile Museum. Visiting these sites will open you up to the historical and cultural wealth of the city. From the legends of Compostelle to those of the last republicans, victims of pro-Franco troupes: it is a veritable journey to the heart of 2,000 years of history. From the Roman and Muslim occupations to the main phases of the 'Reconquista', Lleida has always been a place of strategic interest.

To do

Don't limit your visit to the city; go out and discover the natural heritage of the province.
The Monsec region, the Monsec Universe Observation Centre (planetarium), the UNESCO-listed Romanesque churches at the foot of the Pyrenees, the Medieval castles nestled in the mountains, flying over these wonderful landscapes in a hot air balloon, rafting down the straights, trekking around the national parks and mountains, or even travelling by antique steam train to the Pyrenean lakes.



To think about

Catalonia is not limited to Barcelona and the Costa Brava! The airport of Lleida-Alguaire which opened recently is expected to attract many visitors to this relatively unknown region of Catalonia right at the base of the Spanish Pyrenees, thanks to its culture, gastronomy and landscapes. In winter, the region of Lleida provides an excellent alternative to the Alps thanks to its 11 ski resorts.

To avoid

Criticising the Catalan language will not earn you many friends.
Try not to get angry if the people you meet speak to you in Catalan, since it's the mother tongue of the region's inhabitants after all, so it's what comes naturally to them. Catalan people are very proud of their language and enjoy speaking it whenever they can. If you don't understand, a quick "bon dia" will be appreciated: a simple acknowledgement that speaking Spanish may be an effort for them will go a long way in establishing good relations. Avoid telling them that you don't understand this specificity - they'll simply explain that Spanish is the language imposed by the State, whereas Catalan is the language of their ancestors. The relationship between the Catalan and the Spanish (from Madrid or Andalusia) is still rife with animosity and there is no point making things worse.

To try

Try the local cooked meats
Catalan cuisine is one of the most refined on the peninsula! You must try the 'Botifarra' (traditional black sausage) and the 'picolat' balls (small meat balls with herbs and olives). The province of Lleida is a big pork-farming region and its cooked meats are the most popular in the country. The pastries are sure to go down well those who have a sweet tooth (try, for example, the 'Bunyol' pastries, or Bunyetes, the 'arms of gypsy women'). Lleida is the capital of a very rural region that produces delicious, high-quality, locally-bred or grown products.

To bring back

Iberian ham and olive oil.
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