Olot, Capital of the Catalonian Garrotxa region is equidistant from Girona, Figueres, and Ripoll. Its location has resulted in it developing into an active, sparkling, commercial and industrial town, but it still retains a very interesting Old Town.
It is known as the ‘City of Volcanoes’ and is surrounded by 38 cones. Old Olot was mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 1474 but during the 18th century, the town’s textile industry spawned the world-famous Olot School of Art. The School’s most prominent figures were Josep Berga I Box (1837 – 1914) and Joaquin Vayreda I Vila (1843 – 1894) and they went on to found the Christian Art Workshops – Art Cristina – which still produce church stationery today
South West of Olot’s Placa Major, the skyline is dominated by the 18th century Esglesia de Sant Esteve, built on the site of a tenth-century church. This was renovated after the earthquake and has a plain exterior but an impressive baroque Verge del Roser wooden altar-piece.
The Croscat Volcano
The most important museum in Olot is the Museu Commercial de la Garrotxa, which is filled with many great landscapes and sculptures by Casas, Clara, and Blay.
The Garrotxa Volcanic Nature Reserve covers nearly 30,000 acres. The largest volcano, The Croscat, rises beside the magical beech wood of Fageda d’en Jorda that the poet Maragall described as a ‘liberating prison’. The woods in Autumn has a carpet of leaves, moss and red earth complementing the yellows, greens, and reds of the unfallen leaves which are illuminated by the sun’s rays. Thus the reference to feeling liberated from the world. There is an excellent selection of walks in the area – visit the Olot Tourist Office for details of the signposted trails.