parador de cardona

Photos courtesy of Parador de Cardona








This massive fortress in the foothills of the Pyrenees was built by King Louis the Pious in 789 as a central strong point for securing territories reconquered from the Moors. The counts of Cardona began work on the present structure in 1020. A nephew of the Emperor Charlemagne, Count Ramón Folch, took over the governorship of Cardona, and his descendants were elevated to the rank of duke.

A legend relates that the beautiful daughter of Ramón Folch was imprisoned in the tower by her brothers after she fell in love with a Moor and converted to Islam. She died within the year.

Cardona was always highly desired for its salt beds. A constitution dating from 986 allowed the inhabitants personal use of the salt one day a week if they, in turn, donated a day’s work to the castle’s upkeep and pledged fidelity to its protection.

Standing on a conical hill 1500 feet above the walled village, the castle was never conquered through a long history of wars. French and Spanish troops failed in their attempt to overtake it during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1711. A hundred years later the castle remained standing after a long siege during the Peninsular War, and the Carlists failed to take it during the Spanish Civil War.

Pamela’s Perspective

If the Cataluña region of Spain is your destination, you can make an interesting excursion from Barcelona to Montserrat, overnighting at Cardona and then continuing on to the tiny principality of Andorra.


Parador de Cardona

A 9th-century castle


08261 Cardona
Tel: ++34 938 69 12 75
Fax: ++34 938 69 16 36
Official parador website
Reserve with

Fast facts

49 rooms

Double rooms: 95–140 euros
Rates include tax.
Free Wi-Fi

Open: beginning March through mid-January

Getting there

Cardona is 97 km northwest of Barcelona on C-1410. A car is the best means to get there.

What to do

Nearby: horseback riding; golf; fishing; canoeing; walking tours through old quarter of Cardona; salt museum; Montserrat monastery


In this meticulously cared for parador, you’ll find red tile floors shined to a high gloss, wood beams covering arched ceilings, heraldic tapestries and wrought-iron torches decorating the walls, and many Catalan antiques filling the rooms.

An elevator carries you to six floors of guest rooms. Many have canopy beds, hand-painted headboards, and woven bedspreads. Room 712 is reputed to be haunted by a ghost dressed in a leotard and period costume. (When the castle underwent restoration, a security dog stood outside the room and barked almost nonstop for over a month.)

The restaurant is situated in an ancient stone vaulted room. The menu offers typical Catalan dishes such as salmon in red pepper sauce and wild boar with chocolate. Wild mushrooms and stews are a specialty as well.

Something special

curlicueCardona is a Spanish National Monument, with its Gothic court and chapel now preserved as a museum.