Lleida is one of the cities that is home to some of the most valuable cultural assets in all of Catalonia. In fact, it is the second most important city, after Barcelona, in this autonomous community of Spain.
Although the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language recommends using the name Lérida to refer to this city, the truth is that most Catalans prefer to call it Lleida, which is also the official name given to it by local authorities since 1980.
Lleida, or Lleida, as you like, is considered a populated area since the Bronze Age. Throughout history, it has been an enclave in which diverse peoples and civilizations have merged. This has given it a rare cultural vitality, and one that is worth knowing.
Generalities of Lleida
Lleida and its metropolitan area concentrate just under 500,000 inhabitants, in an area of almost 212 square kilometers. It is one of the largest cities in the region and has become a benchmark for hospital services in Catalonia.
The local economy is particularly concentrated in the area of services. There is also industry and agriculture, although on a smaller scale. It is also a city that has positioned itself as a center for so-called “congress tourism.”
By land, it has direct communication with Madrid , Barcelona, Huesca and Viella, and indirect communication with all of Spain and the European Union. Rail transport is optimal and it also has an airport that connects it with the whole country and with the United Kingdom.
Seu Vella and Seu Nova
Two of the main cultural assets of Lleida are the cathedrals of Seu Vella and Seu Nova. The first, or Old Cathedral, is considered the most emblematic monument in the entire city. It is a fabulous Romanesque-style construction that was completed in the 15th century.
This extraordinary cathedral has gone through many vicissitudes throughout history. Several times it has been taken as a military fort and in the Franco era it served as a concentration camp and prison. In 1949 its restoration was undertaken, and it is currently on the list of monuments to be considered to be declared a World Heritage Site.
La Seu Nova , or New Cathedral, is in the Baroque style and its construction began in the 16th century, under the reign of Carlos III. It was terminated in 1790 and its main initial function was to replace the Old Cathedral, which operated as a military fort.
Other monuments of interest
The two famous cathedrals are not the only assets of cultural interest in Lleida. If you go to this beautiful city, don’t miss a visit to the King’s Castle. The best thing it has is a fabulous terrace in the old viewpoint, from where you get an unbeatable view of La Seu Vella . It has been open to the public since 2011.
Another great place is the Templar Castle of Gardeny , or house-convent of the Knights Templar. It is on one of the hills of the city, and what survives are the remains of an imposing construction that during the 12th to 15th centuries housed these mysterious knights. If you visit the place, you will know its history first hand.
The neighborhoods of Lleida
The historic center of Lleida allows access to these imposing monuments, but it is also home to the famous Eix Comercial , or Commercial Axis, one of the most populous places in the city. It is characterized by the large number of commercial establishments that are located there. In that place there is also the Saint Joan square, which has one of the highest escalators in all of Spain.
The most bohemian neighborhood, and also one of the fastest growing today, is Cappont. This concentrates important leisure centers and also a university campus. There the Champs Elysees park is located, which has at the end the Fira de Lleida , the most important fairground in the city.
Pardillas is another beautiful place, surrounded by nature and with several leisure and walking areas. It is a neighborhood that is historically linked to the railway, separated from the historic center only by a famous train station. The local boulevard is one of the longest in all of Catalonia. The new La Llotja conference center is being built on this site .
Definitely, Lleida has a lot to offer. It is an ideal place for travelers who appreciate history, culture and art. It is also a place to learn about the particular way of being of the Catalans.