The legacy of the Lord of Àger : Arnau Mir de Tost route
The Arnau Mir de Tost route is an authentic trip back through time to the 11th century when the Serra de Montsec served as a frontier between Muslim and Christian territories.
It was at that time that the Arnau Mir de Tost, a knight to the Count of Urgell, crossed this frontier and captured Àger from the Muslims, thereby extending the Christian-held territory towards the south.
He achieved quite spectacular feats during the course of the border conflicts however it was his marriage to Arsenda, daughter of the lord of Montanisell, that enabled him to become a successful military leader, not only due to the economic resources to which he had access, but also due to her social network that he exploited to the full. The purchase of Llordà Castle in 1033 ensured his dominance of the Tremp river basin, where he also acquired the other important fortifications Orcau, Toulon and Mur.
Once he had established his control over these lands, Arnau Mir de Tost focused on a new target: the Andalusian (Muslim) controlled territories to the south of the Montsec range, of which the powerful fortified position of Àger was the cornerstone of the Andalucian government.
Àger was taken by the troops of Mir of Tost in 1034, upon which Count Urgell appointed him master of the newly conquered population, and he devoted himself to the reorganization and repopulation of the seized territories in the region of Montsec. Over the next decade, this stronghold of Àger changed hands several times between Muslim & Christian control until 1047 when Àger definitely fell into the hands of the Christians.
To the west, he expanded beyond the natural frontier of the river Noguera Ribagorçana and extended his dominion as far as the river Éssera. This meant that in the decade of 1060, he controlled the valleys of the Segre and the two Nogueras, and even collected taxes from the taifas of Lleida and Saragossa.
In 1064, Arnau Mir of Tost played a decisive role in the conquest of Barbastre, the first important Muslim city to fall into the hands of a Catalan feudal army. When Ermengol III died in battle, Arnau Mir acted as governor of the county of Urgell together with the viscount of Castellbò. He died in 1072 during a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
As well as his leading role in the border conquests, Arnau Mir of Tost was responsible for extensive construction and left behind a legacy of architectural heritage that still characterises the area today: the castles of Llordà, Mur and Lluçà and the Collegiate Church of Àger are the most important examples.
Medieval Àger : The town of Àger, has been preserved to retained all of its medieval charm. The Collegiate Church of Sant Pere, which was constructed there on the orders of Arnau Mir of Tost in the 11-12th century dominates the skyline, whilst the Church of Sant Vicenç, houses the grave of the nobleman. The collegiate church and the castle have recently been restored. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the narow stone streets, passages and tunnels of the historic centre and can visit the parish church, which houses as Hellenic tomb and sarcophagus.
Castell de Mur: Mur Castle, with its spectacular location follows the archetypal model of Catalan defensive castles. It is depicted in numerous educational history books and is used an example to illustrate frontier life. It was constructed directly on the rock, adapted to the shape of the landscape. The structure is 31 metres in length and the wall is 1 metre wide, with a height of between 14 and 18 metres. Its architecture and its state of preservation make it an exceptional example of non-religious architecture from the 11th century.
Col·legiata de Santa Maria de Mur: The old Augustine monastery of Santa Maria de Mur is located a few metres from the Castle. A wall around the castle and the monastery made the complex into a large fortress. It was constructed in the second half of the 11th century by the counts of Pallars, Ramon V and Valença, and was consecrated in 1069 by William Arnau, Bishop of Urgell.
Castell de Llordà (Isona i Conca Dellà): Inspired by the residences of the Aragon monarchs at Loarre and of the counts of Barcelona, Llordà Castle is one of the best examples of a feudal palace from the late Middle Ages in Europe. It consists of three areas: the upper enclosure, which was where the manor house would have been built; the lower enclosure, intended to house both the lord’s subjects and the services; and a third space outside the walls, where the Monastery of Sant Sadurní was located, along with the population that assembled around these buildings.
To enjoy a complete circuit of the castle follow the walking route as the thumbnail map – click to open in a new window.
Església de Santa Maria de Covet (Covet): This is one of the most original churches of the 12th century Catalan Romanesque period, in the form of a Latin cross with a single nave, covered with pointed barrel vaults, a transept and three apses that open out. The main façade has one of the few Catalan portals constructed facing the west. The main facade is regarded as one of the most exceptional Romanesque sculptures in Catalunya.
Route info in Google maps
The Àger area in 1647:
The fort of Àger in 1647: