Prats de Molló
1- Porte de France, this is the most important of the 5 gates of then town which has been encircled by ramparts since 1345. These were destroyed by an earthquake in 1428. They were rebuilt only to be destroyed again by the troops of Louis XIV, in reprisal for the rebellion of the “Little Angels of the Land” during the Salt War. Finally, in 1683, they were rebuilt by the villagers under the supervision of Marshal Vauban’s engineers.
To the left of the gate is a monument by the sculptor Manolo Valiente erected in 1982. It pays tribute to the Catalan traditional dance, the sardine, and draws attention to the little “Ciutat Pubilla” bestowed on the town in 1982 as the leading centre of the Sardane in North Catalonia.
2- Place Josep de la Trinxeria, this square is named after the valiant captain who, together with his brave hand of “Little Angels of the Land” stood firm against the troops of Louis XIV from 1661 to 1670. To the right is the town hall, built between 1613 to 1614. There is a plaque commemorating the 1000 years of the town’s history and the date on which the first church was consecrated 928 AD. To the left is the hause in which the Catalan writer, Charles Bosch de la Trinxeria, was born.
3- Place d’armes, military parades were held in this square from 1659, when Prats became a garrison town on the settlement of the treaty of the Pyrenees, until 1939.
6- The fortified church, dating from 982 this was the first church built in the village; only the monolithic front to thre left of the entrance remains. Of particular interest are: The Romanesque door way (1245); non-rusting door fittings forged by a traditional Catalan Technique; the guilded wooden reredos by the sculptor Louis Generes, considered one of the finest examples of its style; The whale bone embedded in the right facing wall which was a votive offering. The church was enlarged between 1649 and 1681.
7- Chapelle de la Pietat, contains statues which were paraded at Easter processions and a Christ in Majesty.
9- Porte de la Fabrique, this gate is named after the religious institution, formed by elected representatives of the faithful, which managed religious buildings in the 17th and 18th centuries. The gate leads to Fort Lagard by a covered way followed by a tunnel.
10- Passage de la Dôme, rampart walk with the powder magazine and defensive loopholes.
11- Pont de la Guilleme, fortified bridge with Romanesque culvert below with iron grills to deny access by enemies from the river approach.
12- Plaça del Rei, in this square in the 11th century stood the summer residence of the counts of Besalú, who were the seigneurs of the town. The square has been restored by the local artist Jean Lareuse.
13- Rues des Marcahnts, this was the street of weavers and embroiderers who formed powerful guilds in the 17th and 18th centuries. A few of the original medieval houses are still in existence.
16- Porte du Verger, from this gate the upper Tech valley can be seen to the west with the mount Costa bona (2464 m) and the Esquerdes de Rotja. To the south is the Tour de Mir (1540 m) a signal tower dating backto the 13th century.
17- Rue des Rois D’Aragon, follow this street through the upper town and you will see on the left a particularly outstanding building, supposed to be the summer residence of the kings of Aragon but more probably the weaver’s guildhall.
19- Porte d’Espagne, go through the ancient Spanish Gate to the narrow bridge below which can be seen the remains of the medieval arches of the original bridge.
20- Chapelle des Saintes Juste et Ruffine, from the Porte d’Espagne, walk back through the lower town to the place d’Armes and then take the rue des Stes Juste et Ruffine to the chapel decorated by the local artist Jean Lareuse.
22- Le Firal, this is the square where markets and fairs have been held since 1308; it was redesigned in 1767.On the south side is the school (1907) and the Foyer Rural (1968). On the east side is the Syndicat d’Initiative (Tourist Information Centre 1985).
Fort Lagarde dominates the town. It can be reached on food from the Porte de la Fabrique, beyond the church, either by following the covered walk, 170 m long built in 1851, to the Tour Carrée or Redoute (square tower) then the tunnel 100 m long or by the path to the right.
A round tower was first built in 1307 under the aragonese rulers in a place called La Gardia (The Watch). This tower is located in the middle of the star-shaped donjon of the fort, the building of which was started in 1677 under the direction of Vauban; However, a large number of modifications and reinforcements were latter added lasting up to 1858. The general plans were firstly devised by Rousselot and completed by Maréchal de Vauban, royal commissioner for fortifications of Louis XIV, who visited prats in 1679. The original plans envisaged a fort twice the size of the actual construction which contains more than 40 rooms armoury, provision warehouse, powder magazines, a chapel, guardhouse, dungeon, kitchens with bread ovens and barracks for a hundred men.
The water supply was prvided by a spring. However, in order to mitigate the affects of a siege a sophisticated system of collecting rain water into underground reservoirs was constructed.
The fort was originally intended to protect the French border and subsequently to stop a new revolt by the Angelets (The local inhabitants who disapproved of taxes imposed by the king of France following the annexation of Catalonia into his kingdom).