Silence, tranquillity and meditation
The natural environment around Begues has optimum conditions of peace and quiet for physical activities as well as others related to meditation.
The Department of Trade and Tourism has promoted the creation of short routes around the municipality aimed at locals as well as tourists who wish to get to know Begues. To this end, it has also created a route to some of the unique buildings and corners of Begues.
Comarca: Baix Llobregat
Autonomous community: Catalonia
Area: 50,4 km²
Population: 6.736 inhabitants.
Population density: 133,65 pop. per km²
Location: 41º 20´ 0” N – 1º 56´ 0” O
Altitude: 400 MASL
Distance: 31 km. de Barcelona
According to excavations carried out in Can Sadurní cave, the history of human occupation in Begues started in around 11,000 BP, with the Epipaleolithic hunters-gatherers. Some 7,000 years ago, there started to be farmers and shepherds, but the people of Begues in Neolithic times still lived in caves and huts. It was not until some 2,500 years ago that Puig Castellar, the first stone settlement, was built. The Romans, who arrived in our land little more than 2,000 years ago, did away with the local Iberian culture. We do not know exactly what the Romans or the Visigoths who followed them during the first seven centuries of our era did in Begues, but the Royal Highway from Barcelona to Tarragona going through Sant Boi, Sant Climent, Begues, Olesa and Vilafranca could have been built by the Romans.
Guifré El Pilós, wounded Begues – 897
In 718, the Muslims occupied Barcelona, from where they were expelled by the Franks in 801. At this time, the Franks set up the border of the Marca Hispanica on the River Llobregat. One hypothesis says that count Wilfred the Hairy was fatally wounded in 897 in Begues in a battle against the Saracens, and in 898, another battle was documented against the Saracens which took place in Bighash or Bígux (interpreted as Begues), on the way to Barcelona.
At the beginning of the 10th century, the border was established next to the River Llobregat, and Eramprunyà Castle was documented for the first time in 957. Some parishes were created within the boundaries of this castle to consolidate its occupation and one of them was Sant Cristòfor, mentioned for the first time in 981, although in 972 Begues was already known as a place. In the old Church of the Rectory, an anthropomorphic tomb from this period was found. The Barony of Eramprunyà governed over this parish throughout the feudal period and for a few more centuries.
Construction of the Church of the Rectory – 1578
In 1578, once the demographic uncertainty caused by the plagues had been overcome, and with a resurgence favoured by Occitan immigration, the current Church of the Rectory was built, which is much bigger than the previous Romanesque one. However, the population of Begues remained scattered in farmhouses without an urban centre until the 19th century. Up until this time there were, at most, small groups of farmhouses such as La Clota or Mas Traval, as well as later on, in the 18th century, the San Martín outlying district, which is the oldest urban structure nucleus that remains.
At the end of the 18th century, the construction of Molins de Rei Bridge (1769) and the Ordal road led to the marginalisation of the Begues Royal Highway and the standstill of the population of Begues, which did not reach 500 inhabitants until the mid-19th century, coinciding with the creation of the outlying districts of the Rectory (on the rector’s request, to obtain rent and protection against bandits and guerrillas), Santa Eulàlia, Campamà, La Barceloneta and Calle Mayor (due to the subdivision of the larger estates of Can Romagosa and Can Sadurní, done for the purposes of the rights of the Barony which the 1812 constitution entailed).
Construction of the road in Gavà – 1881
In 1881, the railway reached Gavà and this led to the project to build a road to communicate Gavà station with Begues, which was opened for the 1886 town festival, and practically coincided with the population reaching one thousand inhabitants.
However, the following year, the phylloxera plague arrived, marking the beginning of the decline of agriculture and leading to the abandoning of the poorest, most remote vineyards. The train and the new road facilitated the arrival of outsiders with concerns, with the beginning of speleology (1897) and scientific excursions, or in search of pure, healthy fresh air (Begues is known as a destination for curing respiratory diseases) and finally, second homes, such as the emblematic Torre de la Fundación Bosch.
The arrival of electricity and the telephone – 1925
At the beginning of the 20th century, Jaume Petit created the bus line in Gavà, a couple of hotels, the Petit Casal, a colony for deaf and dumb people, etc. The Begues Choir and football club were also created, and collections of postcards were published, Modernist style buildings were built, such as the Matadero slaughterhouse and finally, in 1925, electricity and the telephone reached the town. In view of such growth, a new church started to be built where the town was expanding most (1931). Later, the Cucafera (a festive activity based on a fantastic beast) started (1934) and the summer holidaymakers built their club, the “casino” (1936). That year, the Spanish Civil War broke out and put an end to it all.
The Spanish Civil War – 1936
Begues was not a scene of armed confrontation during the Civil War. The pro-Franco troops did not enter Begues until 23rd January 1939, when the war had almost finished. However, the three years the war lasted were not at all easy for the population. There were many moments of tension, a lot of people went into hiding, there were many refugees, the first conflicts with anarchist groups broke out, and an entire generation (La Quinta del Biberón) of 17-year-old boys lost their lives on the front. With the arrival of the Nationals, all kinds of liberties were taken away from the citizens and heavy repression was applied to anyone related to the Republic. In Begues, more than 50 people were imprisoned and there were two executions by firing squad. Republican women were dragged through the streets of Begues and were obliged to sing the anthem of the Falange Española, Cara al Sol.
It was not until the end of the 1940s, that Begues started to raise its head, as can be seen in the construction of the new church of Sant Cristòfor and the Plaça Camilo Río, as well as the publication of new postcards. In the 1960s, the appearance of the Seat 600 car unleashed the construction of holiday homes and the development of new residential estates with a notable increase in summer holidaymakers. The building boom went hand-in-hand with the progressive abandonment of agriculture and the disappearance of the highly appreciated vine peach trees. At the beginning of the 1970s, the compensation for the construction of the Vall de Joan rubbish tip was the arrival of water from the River Llobregat and the improvement of the Gavà road.
Forest fire in the Garraf Park – 1982
At the end of the dictatorship, the town’s social life suddenly came to life, the Cucafera festive activity started again and the Coral Montau choir was created. In 1979, the first municipal elections were held and in 1982, a large forest fire burnt the entire recently-declared Garraf Natural Park. In the mid-1980s, a population of 1,500 was reached and, little by little, many summer holidaymakers decided to make their permanent home there.
The construction of the C-32 motorway in 1994, along with the general economic growth, encouraged the arrival of many young couples with little children in search of the quality of life they could find in Begues. This led to a spectacular urban and demographic growth, going from 2,000 inhabitants in 1991 to 4,500 in 2001. In the 21st century, a relief road and a lot of other equipment was constructed and there was a census which, in 2009, exceeded 6,000 inhabitants.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Cal Pere Vell
In Cal Pere Vell, the local social services and the Permanent Education Centre are housed. The building is from the 19th century and from 1917, it brought together the more progressive inhabitants of Begues.
Can Grau del Coll
One of the oldest farmhouses in Begues, probably from the 13th century, with several later extensions and refurbishments. It still preserves a good part of the original structure, with Romanesque and Gothic style arcades. Located at the beginning of the Royal Highway, just when it reaches the Coll de Begues, it used to be a hotel for travellers (Hostal Albareda). The Grau family had been mentioned in documents since the 15th century, and lost the surname due to a lack of heirs at the beginning of the 20th century, when it became Mas de les Valls.
Known from 1498 as Mas de l’Espluga, in reference to the cave, and afterwards (16th century) as Sadurní de l’Espluga. In the 20th century, it was handed down through the maternal line of the Sadurní family to the current Vendrell family. It is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved farmhouses in Begues and still maintains the agricultural tradition through the vineyards and Montau de Sadurní wineries. A part of the attached buildings has been converted into a restaurant.
It is the only farmhouse in Begues with a basilical structure (with a raised loft) and preserves its original characteristics perfectly. The period in which it was built is unknown, although the architectural style would suggest the 15th to 17th centuries. However, it seems that it housed the barony’s barn. The Vendrell family lived in it until the end of the 20th century. It is currently abandoned, and is part of the donation that, at the end of the 19th century, Pla i Amell made to the children of the Sagrada Familia, the owners of Sant Lluís school.
Creu de Terme
A cross constructed in 1312 and placed at the crossroads of the Royal Highway with the road (now Calle Rectoría) that led to the old church, near Can Grau del Coll farmhouse. It marked reaching the Begues plain from Barcelona and Sant Boi. In this location there is currently a copy that was built after the Civil War, and the original was placed in front of the new church built in the centre of the town, where it is been subject to several incidents. With the renewal of the church promenade, a new copy was unveiled just a few metres from the previous location.
Also known as “the small cultural centre”, the building was constructed in 1909 by the distinguished Begues gentleman, Jaume Petit Ros. It was destined as a house for right-wing supporters and later became a grocery shop from where it got its popular name of Colmado. In the 1990s, it was threatened with demolition, but it is currently the information point for the Garraf Natural Park.
Santa Eulàlia Hermitage
A small chapel of uncertain origin, which already existed in 1458 and which was extended in the 17th century. The last reforms were carried out in the 19th century. It is built on a mount of the same name, in the middle of the Begues plain, from where it overlooks the entire municipal area. It is currently hidden by the pine trees that have grown up around it. Every year the Grape Must Festival is celebrated during the third week of October with the traditional blessing and sharing of bread.
Sant Cristòfor Parish Church
Built in the mid-20th century to avoid the long journey that people had to make up until then to get from the town to the former Church of the Rectory, it is a church with a single nave, lit by loopholes that open over the side chapels and the rose window in the main façade. Outside, it is finished off in irregular stone, apart from the ashlars cut from the corners
Col·legi Bosch Private Foundation
A site known as La Torra composed of a centre with an associated chapel constructed as a second home by Teodor Bosch, a great Barcelona landowner. It was a Dominican nuns’ school and is currently the head office of the Teodor Bosch Foundation. It is a large stately building with a structure consisting of several juxtaposed bodies and eclectic ornamentation. The neo-Gothic style church is placed against the house.
L’Escorxador, an events room and place where local associations meet
A Modernist style building that was built in the 1920s in the stone and brickwork style of industrial buildings that was commonly found in Catalonia during the early decades of the 20th century. It was later a municipal warehouse until it was restored and converted into a public municipal building.
FESTIVALS AND FAIRS
1st Letters to the Three Wise Men collected
1st End of year festival
5th Parade of the Three Wise Men
20th The town’s winter festival
23rd Sant Jordi: Poetic-musical concert by the Coral Montau
Easter: Traditional Easter songs or caramelles sung in the streets, and traditional sardana dancing.
Festival for the Senior Citizens
Aplec de Bruguers gathering
23rd Sant Joan: Bonfire in the street. The flame from the Canigó. Midsummer night dance.
Musical concerts organised by the Coral Montau
25th The town’s summer festival
Mediaeval trade fair: Usually the last Saturday in July
Begues Parc Main Festival Activities in the Begues Parc district
11th National Day of Catalonia: Sardana dancing and other events
Craft fair and displays by local associations: last Sunday in September
Grape Must Festival: third weekend
Craft beer festival
Caga Tió (a traditional Catalan Christmas tradition for children): the Sunday before Christmas
31st Home dels nassos (a mythical Catalan character)