Some small villages had up to five mills, illustrating the importance of oil to the local economy. Continued bad harvests, the 1929 economic crash – which stopped the export trade – and the Spanish Civil War marked the end of olive oil’s golden age. But in recent years, some municipalities have been recovering their most valued heritage. Farmers and local associations are doing a priceless job of restoring the dry-stone architecture that spreads across olive groves and vineyards./p>
From perfectly-shaped terraces to singular vaulted cabins and walled cave shelters to cisterns, this heritage is a genuine testimony of human settlement and cultivation practices.
Every day, more and more people are coming to enjoy olive oil tourism. It is a way of immersing yourself into Catalan culture through an indispensable element of the Mediterranean diet: olive oil.
Olives have been a part of the Catalan landscape for millennia, and have shaped the culture of these lands. There are five protected designation of origin oils throughout Catalonia, each with its own well-defined flavour and body. Climate, soil type and variety of olives used all contribute to these different varieties. We have various local species, such as the 'argudell' from L'Empordà, or the 'morruda' from El Baix Ebre.
Spread around Catalonia there are nearly a hundred producers, many of which open their facilities so you can get to know the secrets behind the liquid gold. They organize all types of activities for you to learn to smell, taste and differentiate each of the oils' finer nuances.
Production techniques have evolved over the ages, but in Catalonia you can travel back in time and discover how olive oil was made centuries ago. There are over 40 olive oil mills to visit where you can learn about the basic techniques used to produce it. And if you want to learn about what the olive landscape was like years ago, in Ulldecona you will find a real gem: the greatest collection of thousand-year-old olive trees in the world.