In the pre-littoral mountains of Catalonia, Muntanyes de Prades are some of the highest peaks in Tarragona, at 1000m above sea level (Tossal de la Baltasana 1,203; Els Pics 1,134; la Mussara 1,065; Els Cogullons 1,045, etc). They are in the middle of the natural route joining Tarragona with Lerida. The numerous geological faults and processes of erosion have created an intricate series of ravines forming a beautiful landscape with splendid Mediterranean vegetation of holm oaks, deciduous oaks and pines.
Regional Archaeological Context:
Numerous archaeological sites in Muntanyes de Prades are evidence of a long process of human occupation, including Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic hunters, and groups in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Iberian period. The region was finally occupied by urban populations in the first millennium BC.
Conca de Barbera, with a surface area of 649km2 is an elongated area of Catalonia, between the valleys of the Rivers Francolí and Anguera. These rivers are surrounded by mountains, above all Muntanyes de Prades at 1201m above sea level. In this area of mountains and ravines, 15 rock art sites have been located. Two of them belong to the Levantine style, the others to Schematic and abstract cycles.
Mas d’en Llort: This rock-shelter near the top of Llord Ravine contains one of the most attractive friezes from the hunting phase. It shares the same location as another site with schematic-abstract paintings known as Portell de les Lletres. It is the only place in the Sierra where the two styles, stylised-naturalistic and schematic-abstract are found together. This supports the importance of the place and the duration of a shrine or “sacred place”.
Mas d’en Ramon d’en Bessó: This is the other naturalistic site in the area, located near the first one. The shelter is 10m long, 2m high and 1.75m deep. Remains of figures in red can be seen as evidence of several compositions that are now badly faded.
Portell de les Lletres: It contains 18 signs and other remains of paintings at a height of between 1 and 4m. In the lower part there are small dots and vertical lines, while the upper part has one of the largest groups at Muntanyes de Prades.
Mas d’en Carles: Known to the local inhabitants since time immemorial, this site is in woodland on the east side of Pirro Ravine. The decorated frieze is in the central part of a large rock, protected by a small overhang.
Cova de les Crues: This small site is among the trees and crags in the southern area, near the top of Les Escometes Ravine, a tributary of the River Brugent. It contains five motifs painted in red, from the centre to the base of the wall.
Rock-Shelters of Britus I, II, III and IV: This group of rock-shelters is in the southern part of the Sierra, on the high slopes of Pirro Ravine, a tributary of the River Brugent. It is a group facing southwest, with schematic-abstract motifs painted in bright red and probably dating from the Bronze Age.
Rock-Shelter of la Daixa: This site is located above Britus I, II, III and IV on the high slopes of Pirro Ravine. It contains twelve motifs painted in red.
Rock-Shelter of Mas del Arlequí: This medium-sized shelter is at the top of Pirro Ravine, here known as Baridana. The art comprises several groups painted with fine lines in a light orange-red.
Rock-Shelter of la Roquerola: Located on the high cliffs of Mola de la Roquerola, this site is clearly visible from the town of Farena. It is a large shelter with only a few badly deteriorated schematic and abstract motifs.
Rock-Shelter of Mas d’en Gran: This site, which is difficult to reach, is on the steep crags of Pirro Ravine. It has a frieze with 17 small figures that form two or three scenes painted in bright red. The shelter is 5m long, 1.10m high and 2.40m deep.
Rock-Shelters of Baridana I and II: The first shelter is large, but only conserves four badly eroded figures. The second smaller shelter has a single abstract motif, painted with fine lines in a very light orange-red.
Rock-Shelter of Gallicant: This site is in a large ravine at the top of Cornudella Valley, which is a tributary of the River Ciurana. The shelter is 10m wide, 8m deep and 5m high, with several walls and stepped platforms inside. It contains a frieze with 18 small and very deteriorated representations.
Rock-Shelter of la Mussara: Under a small rock overhang, a scene can be identified with a series of human figures in a static positions painted in very light red. They have round heads, a straight body and thin limbs.
Other rock-art sites with engravings: Other past artistic expressions are conserved in the mountains of Muntanyes des Prades, produced by engravings in the rock and mostly dating from the Middle Ages, in places that had been marked or “mythologized” since ancient times. This shows the survival of a “sacred” mountain area, with the continuity of rock-art traditions, which lasted from the Bronze and Iron Ages until the Middle Ages, being copied in the form of initials and years until the 20th century.
The origin of both rock-art styles (stylised-naturalistic and schematic-abstract) was in post-Palaeolithic periods, in the time between the end of the Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic until the Bronze Age. This covers seven millennia, between 10,000-9,000 and 3,000-2,000 years ago.
Type of Site: Caves, Rock-Shelters and rocks
Adress: / Pedrera 2, 43400 Montblanc
Telephone: 977 8621 77/ 977 860 349
Fax: 977 860 349
Website: www.mccb.es (Museu Comarcal de la Conca de Barberà) / www.mac.es (Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya)
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Province: Tarragona / Conca de Barberà
Location: Muntanyes de Prades
Booking and access:
Conca de Barberà Regional Museum and Marès Museum (13th-16th centuries) With Catalonia Archaeological Museum through the Rock-Art Route.
Muntanyes de Prades Rock-Art Visitors’ Centre was opened on September 9, 2010 in the old “presó nova” building in Montblanc.
Nearby cultural destinations:
Cova de la Font Major, a geological and prehistoric museum inside the cave, in the town of Espluga de Francolí (6.9 km).
Route of Castles and medieval towers on the River Gaià.
Monastery of Poblet (listed as World Heritage in 1991).
Historical town of Montblanc.
In Conca de Barbera, modernist wine cellars.
Nearby natural destinations:
Forests and beautiful mountain scenery in Muntanyes de Prades, with marked routes and footpaths.
Accommodation near the site:
C/ Dionís Mestre 3, Montblanc
Tel. 977 861 790
Fonda dels Àngels
Pl. dels Àngels 1, Montblanc
Tel. 977 860 173
Fonda Cal Blasi
C/ d’Alenyà 11, Montblanc
Tel. 977 861 336
Restaurants near the site:
Fonda dels Àngels
Pl. dels Àngels 1
Tel. 977 860 173