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Palafolls castle

Palafolls castle from a distance Palafolls, just south of Blanes is technically just outside the Costa Brava on the far side of the Tordera river tucked a little away from the coast behind Malgrat de Mar - the first of the Maresme coastal towns that run all the way down to Barcelona and if you take the coastal C32 motorway up from Barcelona you pass this crumbling castle in imposing locat to the right as the motorway comes to Tordera - this is the castle of Palafolls.

Palafolls church We came visiting playing it by ear, so without a map aiming just to stop in the town and then follow what paths we could find up to the castle. We came in from Tordera itself on smaller rural type tracks, and discovered later there is easier access directly from Blanes or Malgrat.

Piano and police car The weekend we were visiting was start of the Easter holidays and in our part of the Costa Brava the Mediterranean International Cup was taking part, a youth football tournament that attracts the youth teams of leading clubs from around the world like AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid. At the same time as the MIC, a lesser tournament takes place in and around Palafolls for more everyday teams.

So when we arrived we were surprised to see an number of buses from Italy and England at the Palafolls football stadium so we parked near by to see what was going on and saw small groups of supporters with Italian flags.

Palafolls castle view from the top From the stadium we followed the road in towards the centre of the town. The castle was easily seen across the fields up to our right and we ignored the Cami de Castell to continue to the centre of town. Much of the town is newer and it was closed on a quiet Sunday afternoon, but towards the centre there were a small nestle of older buildings and we eventually navigated to the church in the centre next to two or three imposing municipal buildings. The surprise was the police station which seemed to have been extended very distinctively with a walls of spaced bricks jutting out at odd angles. The oddity of the police station was made more strange by a police car parked beneath a grand piano that was positioned on top of the local theatre.

The town itself is quite open to the fields at the back and we headed out along the dry river valley towards the hills and castle. We found a crossing of the river and walked up past the school which stands in the open before taking what we hoped was the right path up the valley towards the castle. The area has many masia farmhouses spaced along the valley and, to our surprise, the fields were full of lettuces, which must be the main spring crop.

Palafolls Castle interior ruins The road continued linking all the masias along the edge of the valley, but we didn't see an obvious route up to the castle - many of the paths we saw were private.  So we found ourselves walking past the castle and practically all the way to the motorway and the housing estate at Mas Carbo.

At this point we were climbing up to the top and it was very clear how to reach the castle along the estate roads. From the vantage point above the valley we could look across to the sea and the gridded town and hotels on the coast and then through the lettuce green valley to the hills that mark the start of the Serra Litoral that runs behind the Maresme.

The castle itself holds a prominent position on top of a tongue of hill with views to Blanes on one side and towards Malgret on the other. We spotted the slides of Marineland, a water park that we hadn't come across before on the hill behind Palafolls.

The castle was open with no restriction on access. It's large enough that we had thought we might have to pay, but it is probably enough out of the way not to draw casual visitors. The castle has some parts that are prepared for visitors with metal steps and a small ladder to get half way up one of the towers. However, other parts, like those round a small chapel and in amongst the old keep feel much more like ruins with rough ground and, in some areas, open drops so visitors need to take care.

The castle must have been pretty large in its hayday in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as many of the remaining structures are quite imposing. The small inner chapel is quite quaint, though dark and decaying inside and it would have been interesting to find out more about the history and situation.

When we'd seen enough, we headed down back towards Palafolls and the shouts of the football stadium that drifted up to the castle walls. The path is actually labelled as being in the direction of Tordera, but connected us straight back to where we'd parked the car. And whereas the walk up had been in the region of 40 minutes, getting back was only about 20.

Nearby: Hostalric stroll - Lake at Sils - Castell de Montsoriu - Santa Coloma de Farners

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