Existing Member?

Catalunya: 'Passport to Plate' My Catalan Culinary Adventure


SPAIN | Tuesday, 12 July 2016 | Views [300]



When you think of a museum, it conjures up an image of a grand sandstone building containing a curated collection of fossils, artefacts and relics of dead things. This museum is different. It’s a dusty, rugged outdoor museum and it’s living – it’s the Olivos Milenarios (millennium-old olive trees) which is home to thousand-year old olive trees which are said to be some of the oldest trees in Europe.

Amid this iconic Mediterranean landscape we meet a local historian whose enthusiasm for these olive trees is unbridled. We wander through the dry, dusty earth marvelling at the gnarled trunks of the blue-green hued trees that are twisted in different shapes and are in different stages of bearing fruit.  It’s serene and we are the only people in sight.

“Every olive tree is unique. There are no two the same”, our guide announces. He and his fellow volunteers have nicknames for each tree – each special in their own way. My favourite one is ‘the well’ a living tree whose interior trunk had died and created a deep well inside that plunges into the earth. We curiously peer down the blackened hole.

There is something truly majestic about these trees that were originally brought to Catalonia by the Phoenicians and the Greeks in 700 BC. The grove was situated along Via Gusta, an important trade route between Rome and the rest of Spain. Olive trees were important for a variety of reasons – they provided shade from harsh sunlight, wood, fruit and oil.

“If trees could talk…” our guide exclaims. I try to imagine the generations of lives these trees have witnessed and the people who have eaten olives and enjoyed the oil from the very same trees over centuries.

These trees survive, or thrive even, in harsh and arid environments. The oldest tree is the ‘La Farga de L’Arion’, also known as the ‘Monumental Tree’. It is said to be around two-thousand years old. The wise old tree is an impressive as it is large (8 metres in perimeter), it’s branches stretch out grandly. I run my hands along the trunk of this magnificent tree and take a moment to appreciate that I’m touching the rough exterior of something that has lived so long.  Olives from the trees in L’Arion are still harvested to make that cherished golden liquid – olive oil.  However they bear less fruit than the younger trees and must be delicately handpicked or beaten lightly with sticks as modern machinery would cause damage.  Hopefully these trees will be conserved well and will live to see many more generations wander through their exquisitely unruly museum.


To see more photographs and to follow along on more of Eddie Hart's adventures visit:




Tags: catalonia, history, olive oil, olive trees, spain

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About eddie_hart

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about Spain

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.