Peralada is an important fortified medieval town with several noteworthy buildings and a perfectly intact Roman bridge. The impressive castle, for many centuries the residence of the Rocaberti family, has a beautiful park featuring a small lake with swans. The crenalated walls are fourteenth-century in origin, but the Renaissance palace has been added to over the years, and houses a good collection of old Flemish carpets and an 80,000-volume library, part of which is open to the public. Tomas de Rocaberti, count of Perelada and up to then Spanish Ambassador in Paris, created the library in the year 1888. He and his brother Antoni de Rocaberti, count of Zavella, also maintained a school for theatre and music. This wonderful period ended too soon, however, with the death of the two brothers at the end of the 19th century. They did not leave any descendants. The Mateu family, who took over the estate in 1923, had a profitable relationship with Franco’s regime, and the castle is now a luxurious Casino for gambling in James Bond style, or in Blackpool arcade style if you are not stinking rich. The Casino hosts a major summer Music Festival within its grounds. The adjacent Convent of Nuestra.Senyora del Carme was founded in 1206 as a Dominican friary. It has a particularly beautiful cloister and patio and houses a fine collection of glass, ceramics and paintings, as well as items of Gothic sculpture. The old town just below the castle has some nice buildings and a fine arcaded plaça. Check out the foundry Can Pitu Ferrer. There are plenty of good places to eat and drink in and near the town. The Casino’s magnificent restaurant reminds one of the Pantagruelesque banquet-halls of the Middle Ages, and Cal Sagristà occupies the rectory of a fourteenth-century convent. Mas Molí is a tastefully restored masia on the Vilabertran road, and serves very good local fare. Ca la Maria in Mollet de Perelada is also highly recommended.
Peralada is the centre of an important wine region. In addition to the many wineries and cava cellars in the town itself, the winery at Mas Fita on the road to Vilarnadal is worth visiting. Celler Pagés in the charming village of Capmany also welcomes visits. Ask for Sr Mariano Pagés.
This article was written by Francis Barrett. See also Francis' excellent guide to Ireland irelandbyways.com
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