Salt de Tenes was essentially our lone waterfalling experience near the city of Barcelona though it also had that rare combination of a waterfall juxtaposed with history. However, belying its relative proximity to the cosmopolitan metropolis, the monastery at the Sant Miquel de Fai (which harbored this waterfall) was actually very peaceful and relaxing. This contrasted mightily to the monastery at Montserrat, which was heavily visited and commercialized. In any case, as you can see from this photo, this beautifully-situated tall waterfall was not flowing too well, but at least well enough to show up on photographs. Unfortunately, its neighboring waterfall called Salt de Rossinyol was barely trickling. I think based on our experience, this waterfall was best visited during the early Spring months (March or April) on a year when there's average or above average rainfall in the region.
Our visit to this waterfall and monastery was pretty straightforward. From the overflow parking area (see directions below), we walked towards a bridge and arched entranceway to a walkway that afforded us views across the Tenes Valley towards our first glimpses of the full height of Salt de Tenes. Had the area seen more recent rainfall, we not only might have seen a thicker Salt de Tenes, but we also might have seen the plunging Salt de Rossinyol spilling right beneath the monastery buildings themselves to our right.
Continuing further along the walkway, we then entered through a gate into the Plaza de la Abadía, and then paid for our admission to go further into the complex. Beyond this plaza, we were also able to walk up some steps onto the roof (turned viewing deck) of one of the buildings of the Abadía and Casa del Priorato (those stone buildings that were hugging the cliffs next to where Salt de Rossinyol was supposed to be). While up in this spot, we were able to look into the Val de Tenes as well as the large pond with ducks and geese that was surrounded by the church of Sant Miquel (which was built into a cave) as well as some water channels going around and into the pond. By the way, the presence of this pond led me to believe that Salt de Rossinyol might be man-modified for the purposes of flood control around this monastery and complex.
Beyond this pond area, the path continued further along the cliffs as it reached a junction. The path on the left side of the junction went down steps to an intriguing small cave (called La Cueva de Sant Miquel) that featured the typical cave formations of stalactites and stalagmites. More importantly, it highlighted the calcium carbonate (limestone) that was prevalent in the area and provided some of the travertine formations around the waterfalls. There were also very open views towards the Tenes Valley along the stair-stepping trail. Meanwhile, back up at the main path, there was still a water canal along the cliff wall on one side and railings with a few benches on the valley side. On one bench, there was a statue of the writer Josep Pla (carved by artist Tomás Atienza).
The trail then went behind one of the uppermost drops of the Salt de Tenes. The cove here provided welcome shade as well as the cool and refreshing mist from the falling water itself. I'm sure under more waterflow, this area might get even more blasted with water (which I'm sure had given rise to this cove in the first place). Anyways, beyond the falls, the trail continued towards a fork, where the right path went to the hermitage of Sant Martí of the 9th century as well as the Cueva Les Tosques, and the left fork went to a children's play area where a cantina was also set up to let the adults have a snack and a drink as well as a chat while the kids were further down the ramp playing in a pretty large playground area.
Even though we didn't see the waterfalls here under the best of conditions, it was very relaxing and peaceful. Indeed, it was the antidote to the fast-paced festive-like atmosphere in and around Barcelona. We wound up spending a couple of hours here, but the walking time was probably no more than an hour.
This was the view looking back at the Monastery of Sant Miquel de Fai, which was perched right atop the cliffs at the head of the Tenes Valley next to where Salt de Rossinyol should be in wetter times
The Monastery at Montserrat was where we went on the same day we visited the Monastery at Sant Miquel de Fai. It was dramatically situated and hence was very popular given its proximity to Barcelona
Barcelona was just over an hour's drive from Sant Miquel de Fai. This city featured many examples of Antoni Gaudí's modernisme architecture even in a city park like Park Güell shown here
Perhaps the signature attraction of Gaudí and that of the city of Barcelona had to have been the Sagrada Familia Cathedral shown here reflected in a pond on its east side
The large car park at Sant Miquel de Fai
Walking from the car park towards the Monestir de Sant Miquel de Fai. Only buses could go this way back out of the car park because the other road was too narrow and steep for them
Crossing over a bridge leading towards the entrance of Sant Miquel de Fai
Julie and Tahia passing beneath an archway as we were getting closer to the main area of Sant Miquel de Fai
This was our first look towards the tall Salt de Tenes, although it was a bit on the thin side so it's hard to see in this photo
Following the walkway leading down to the monastery while there were views of the Tenes Valley throughout this walk
Here's a closer look at the entirety of the Salt de Tenes so you can see that there really is still water in this waterfall
Julie and Tahia walking towards the entrance of the Monestir de Sant Miquel de Fai
Looking towards the little water canal beneath the overhanging cliffs at the Plaza de la Abadía
From the viewing terrace, we looked down to where the brink of Salt de Rossinyol would be at the lip of this pool. The Salt de Tenes was further on in the background to the topleft
Looking back in the direction of the entrance at Sant Miquel de Fai">
Julie and Tahia continuing to explore the complex at Sant Miquel de Fai
It was cool and shady in this little corridor as we walked past the pond and towards more of the Sant Miquel de Fai Monastery Complex
This was the church of Sant Miquel, which was said to date back to the 10th century
More cool resting spots in the area around the pond at Sant Miquel de Fai
Looking back across the pond with ducks or geese swimming in it at Sant Miquel de Fai
Approaching the entrance for Cueva de Sant Miquel
Looking past the base of Salt de Tenes towards the Val de Tenes from the steps leading to the entrance of Cueva de Sant Miquel
Julie and Tahia exploring the small cave of Cueva de Sant Miquel
Julie and Tahia continuing going up the steps back up to the main walkway
Julie and Tahia approaching the backside of Salt de Tenes
Walking behind the Salt de Tenes
Looking back towards the upper tier of Salt de Tenes
This was the back towards the Monestir de Sant Miquel de Fai after having passed by the Salt de Tenes
This building was the Sant Martí Ermita dating back to the 9th century
This was the interior of the hermitage of Sant Martí
This was the playground area for kids at Sant Miquel de Fai
While the kids were playing below, this was the cantina and picnic area to sit, relax, and watch them from above
Walking back towards the entrance of Sant Miquel de Fai
This was the statue of Josep Pla at the Plaza del Reposo
Leaving the complex at Sant Miquel de Fai
Just to highlight how hot and dry it had been by the time we had visited the Sant Miquel de Fai, we noticed this snake right off the trail. We don't know if it's poisonous, but we had to be real careful about where we stepped
From Barcelona, we drove the C-33 road then autopista north for about 15km to its junction with the C-59 road. We followed the C-59 road north for about 20km north into the town of Sant Feliu de Codines. Once we got to the junction of the C-59 and BV-1485 road, we then followed the signs for Monestir de Sant Miquel de Fai, which directed us onto the BV-1485 road. We followed this road for the next 7km right to the Sant Miquel de Fai, where we then turned right at the fork to get into the complex, where we overshot the monastery entrance and parked in a large spillover car park. Overall, this drive took us about 75 minutes though a good 20 minutes was spent navigating through the busy streets of Barcelona.
When we left the car park, we had to drive a bumpy and narrow road out the car park's other end. That eventually got us to the BV-1485 road after about 500m. There was also a cafe with probably a lookout of the entirety of the head of the Tenes Valley with the waterfalls and the monastery all in one shot from up there. However, we can only speculate on this since we didn't actually stop there, but we knew that such a view existed based on what we saw in the literature.
To give you some additional context, Barcelona was 64km (1 hour drive or 2 hours by public transport) southeast of Montserrat, 313km (3 hours drive) east of Zaragoza, 351km (3.5 hours drive or over 3 hours by Euromed train) north Valencia, and 624km (6 hours drive or 7.5 hours by train via Zaragoza) to Madrid.
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