Industry, History and Natural Beauty
El Vallès Oriental is a comarca of marked contrasts and is home to both industrial areas as well as some of the most breathtaking countryside close to Barcelona.
The central section between Mollet del Vallès and the capital Granollers is quite industrialised, whilst the edges of the comarca are home to some beautiful nature reserves, most notably the mountainous region of Montseny.
With a total of 43 municipalities, some of these towns are tiny and don’t even reach 500 inhabitants.
However, Caldes de Montbui, Canovelles, Cardedeu, Les Franqueses, Lliça de Munt, Montornès, Parets and Sant Celoni all have populations around the 15,000 mark.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Montmeló Motor Racing track, which hosts Formula One and major motorbike events, is located just outside Granollers and is obviously a major draw to the area.
The Vallès Oriental has benefited from its proximity to Barcelona, and the Catalan capital is definitely within commuting distance.
This and the arrival of new industry to the area between Mollet and Granollers has meant the comarca has undergone a brusque growth in population in recent years and the area is easily accessible on the Barcelona Local Train service.
However, given the variety of landscapes, it’s well-worth hiring a car and really taking some time to explore Montseny.
* The Hotel Search Box is pre-configured to give results in the Granollers area because it’s in the centre of the comarca. If you’re looking for Accommodation in Sant Celoni, Montmeló or any other town in El Vallès Oriental, please insert the name of the town in the Where? box.
Granollers and the Barcelona Overspill
With a population of over 60,000 inhabitants, comarca capital Granollers clearly dominates El Vallès Oriental.
At times, the whole section between Barcelona and Granollers feels like an urban sprawl full of industrial estates and badly designed housing estates.
However, with patience you’ll find the many of the towns in this part of El Vallès Oriental have surprisingly well-conserved old historic centres that are well-worth visiting and provide a centre to the community.
This is definitely the case with Granollers, whose main square La Porxada has to be one of the nicest and most characteristic in Catalonia, particularly on market days.
Another town that might surprise is Mollet del Vallès, which is home to the wonderful Museu Abelló.
Joan Abelló wasn’t only one of Catalonia’s foremost painters of the 20th century but also a collector of art so the museum offers a fascinating insight into his own work as well as some real gems from most periods of Catalan art.
I’m a big fan and used Abelló’s Diada 1977 as the front cover for my book Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective.
Nature and History
El Vallès Oriental is home to a number of nature reserves, making it an excellent destination for rural tourism.
As you can see from the photo, the Parc Natural de Montseny, catalogued as Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, is definitely the star of the show, but the Parc Natural de Montnegre i El Corredor is a close contender.
The rocky Cingles de Bertí, where you can visit the Sant Miquel de Fai sanctuary, and the Parc Rural dels Gallecs are also well-worth visiting.
The comarca is also home to some very ancient historical sites.
There are pre-historic locations at Roca del Vallès, Aiguafreda, Vallgorguina and Vilalba Sasserra, celt-iberian ruins at Llinars del Vallès, Sant Esteve de Palautordera, Sant Feliu de Codines and Sant Fost de Campsentelles and Roaman remains at La Garriga and Llinars.
There are over 20 Romanesque churches in the area and the Vallès Oriental was a magnet for Modernisme with l’Illa Raspall at la Garriga being of particular note.
If you understand some Catalan, you can find up to date news about El Vallès Oriental on the Consell Comarcal del Vallès Oriental Website.