Your complete guide to our lovely town

Horta de Sant Joan, also known as 'Orta', is a town in the Terra Alta county in Catalonia, Spain. The village of Horta de Sant Joan is located in a picturesque spot on a hill with a view of the landscape of the northwestern foothills of the mountain range called the Ports of Beseit (or Beceite). The Saint Salvador d'Horta monastery, also known as Convent of Angels, is located at the foot of Santa Barbara Mountain, a rocky hill of striking appearance. The spectacular rock formations called Benet's Rocks are located within Horta de Sant Joan's municipal area. Benet's Rocks form the most characteristic overall landscape in the northern section of the mountain range. Of the three large rock forms, the left-most one is referred to as the Dog's Head because when viewed from the side it strongly resembles that form. Much of Horta de Sant Joan is within the Natural Park of the Ports of Beseit. The area outside the park boundaries is mostly agricultural, with large tracts of olive, almond, and fruit trees, as well as vineyards. The main economic activity of the area is agriculture, including livestock (mostly sheep and goats), and there is also a lot of tourism and construction. There are three major rivers crossing the area around Horta: the Algars which forms the boundary between the Terra Alta in Catalonia and the Matarranya in Teruel, the Estrets which cuts through a rocky canyon forming pools and drops in a stunning landscape before joining the Algars River just above the town of Lledó, at Rose's springs, at the Canaletes, in the east, which later joins the largest river in Spain, the Ebre.

Horta de Sant Joan is the birthplace of Manuel Pallares, friend and companion of Pablo Picasso. Picasso spent some time in Horta during his youth (1897–98) with his friend Manuel. He is quoted as having said, "Everything I know I learned in Horta". Picasso later returned to develop his Proto-Cubism style of painting (1909). During both visits he made a lot of paintings and drawings. There is currently a Centre Picasso that organizes expositions, symposiums, publications, etc. The centre has many lithographs of the paintings that Picasso created while he was in the town, during his cubist period. Today thousands of visitors every year visit this museum to see the collection. Also there is an Eco-Museum of the Natural Park of the Ports, and a visitor's centre with maps and hotel information.

Coordinates: 40°57'23'N - 0°18'59'E
Country: Spain
Community: Catalonia
Province: Tarragona
County: Terra Alta ('High Land')
Area: 119km2 (46 sq mi)
Elevation: 542 m (1778 ft)
Population (2014): 1307
Time zone: CET(UTC+1), in summer CEST (UTC+2)

Horta de Sant Joan enjoys an Interior Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. The area benefits from the Ports Mountain range, which traps cooler sea air from the coast and brings a natural form of "air conditioning" in the evenings in the summer called the Garbí for the winds from the east by that name.

The driest month is July, with 18mm (0.7 in) of rainfall while the wetest is October with an average rainfall of 66mm ( 2.6 in) .

The warmest month during the year is July, with an average of 27.7ºC (82F) and the coldest with 6ºC is January (43F)

Because of its location on a small hill with a natural spring near the top, Horta has been inhabited for centuries. It was a great advantage during medieval sieges, to not be forced to get water from the rivers outside of town. The earliest inhabitants were Iberians, who lived in the area until the arrival of the Romans. In the 8th century Horta, like most of Spain, was under Muslim rule, then reconquered by Christians in the 12th Century. There are still olive trees, like the 1,400 year-old Parot, that were planted by the Muslims during their 400 year rule.

Horta, due to its location as an excellent vantage point surrounded with natural defences, was a perfect place for the Christians to set up a stronghold in the newly reconquered territories. In 1174, King Alfons II gave the town and its territories to the Order of the Templar Knights and these established a "comanda" (a supply point) initially under the control of the nearby town of Miravet, but later in 1236 became self-governed. The supply point was populated mostly by people from Lleida and gradually became a town on its own right. Under Templar protection, in 1296 the "Costums" -a sort of Code of Law-were redacted, which contained local legislation for Horta and its territories of influence, namely Prat del Compte, Bot, Arnes, and Caseres. In 1317, suppressed the Order of the Temple by Pope Clement V, its assets passed to the hands of the military order of the Knights Hospitaller. This organisation formed in 1099 to provide care for sick, poor or injured as well as to provide shelter for abandoned children. Today it still exists as a humanitarian and religious organisation with presence in different branches/chapters all over the world.

During the 14th century, due to the geopolitical situation and its proximity to the possessions of Castille, a wall was built to protect the town and several defence buildings and watchtowers were erected. One of these watchtowers IS OUR HOME that we are now offering FOR SALE to you.

The following centuries, Horta suffers first a decrease in population due to the War of the Reapers (1640) and later a prosperity period which saw its numbers jump from 460 inhabitants in 1718 to 2316 in 1860. Today, Horta is a centre for rural tourism due to the presence of the Centre Picasso as well as the proximity of the Ports de Beseit Natural Park and the Via Verda (Green Way) -a green path following the route of the old railroad tracks to Tortosa, passing by old abandoned stations, bridges and tunnels enjoying the spectacular views of the mountains of Els Ports.

Tourist Map of Horta

Horta de Sant Joan, is one of the most picturesque villages in the Terra Alta region. The surrounding mountains and mediaeval alleyways in the old quarter give it an almost magical feel. The route through the village starts in the porticoed church square, which has some architecturally spectacular buildings. The Town hall for example, is a Renaissance building adorned with cornices and large windows. On the ground floor you can visit the old prison, where there is a permanent exhibition on the local architecture. Next to it, stands the late Gothic church of Sant Joan Baptista, with a groined vault and polygonal apse. Close to Church square, in Picasso street, you will find the Ecomuseum, which is the main information office in the region. There is a small local shop inside the building, as well as an Interpretation Centre of the river Algars and a permanent exhibition on Man and Els Ports.

A walk along the winding streets of the old quarter lead to very fine buildings, like the House of Manel de Joaquim, Pessetes House, El Pa Hotel, several covered buildings and the House of la Comanda, a palace with a unique tower. You should also visit the mediaeval building of the old Hospital, which today is the Picasso Museum, and houses reproductions of several pictures the artist painted in his two stays in Horta de Sant Joan. The houses and the local natural environment inspired works like "The mountain of Santa Barbara", "The Horta Reservoir" and "The factory". In fact, from the village itself, you can see some beautiful scenery, like Benet Rocks - impressive limestone rocks - and the Santa Barbara Mountain with La Mare de Déu dels Àngels Convent, which is better known as Sant Salvador Convent, as this Saint lived here for twelve years. It is a great place to end your visit to the village.

Click on the tab "Map" on the left column for a map of the town and ALBUM banner on the right column for magnificent images of the town and its surroundings.

There are so many sites and things to do and see near Horta de Sant Joan that you won't ever get bored: amazing landscapes, flora and fauna in the natural parks nearby; impressive remains of a distant past, from Romans to Muslims and early Christians; golden beaches at a stone throw away; lovely picturesque towns all around... See HERE an example of the many sites and things that are going to be so close to your new home in the sun, in Horta de Sant Joan.