The Cassà Cork Trail
A cross-border route with Cassà as an important location
The Cork trail, including more towns than Cassà, runs through Morellàs to Cassà de la Selva, making use of the Pirinexus route.
This route links, through cultural and natural heritage, Rosselló, l’Alt and Baix Empordà and el Gironès. All of these places are historically linked to the obtaining, manufacturing and commercialisation of cork; in particular, of wine corks (wine is also produced inthe area), and - most importantly - corks for cava.
In most places along the Cork trail you will find an urban itinerary allowing you to discover the heritage linked to the cork industry.
More information at www.rutadelsuro.cat.
The Cassà Cork Trail
The cork trail in Cassà itself is the best way to discover points of interest about the town centre.
The history of Cassà de la Selva is tightly linked to the cork industry which began in the area in the 18th century. Along this route you will find heritage sites related to the industry, along with beautiful modernist houses built by cork factory owners or landowners.
The cork trail in the centre of Cassà de la Selva starts at the station of the old Carrilet, a railway opened in 1892 to boost the cork industry. It also Connected three towns important to the cork industry (Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Llagostera and Cassà) to Girona. In these three towns the cork industry evolved differently, and the only one in which the industry still carries huge econòmic weight is Cassà de la Selva. At the beginning of the 21st century there were still more than 500 employees in the cork industry and about 40 companies, some of which produce the most important corks in the world.
Download the leaflet for the Cork trail in Cassà.
Follow the Cork Trail of Cassà with Natura Local, Wikiloc or Google (only on mobile phones)
The waypoints of the route Cork in the village of Cassa
The Sant Feliu de Guíxols narrow railway line was constructed in order to support the booming cork industry, which held special importance in Cassà de la Selva. The only part that has been preserved is the station, built in 1892; the elements that have disappeared are the small service building, the foreman’s house, an indoor unloading area, and the lines themselves. The stations were the most important features to be found along the length of the railway. The inside was divided into three parts, each with different functions: the waiting room, the ticket office, and the living space.
The railway line was officially closed in 1969, and since 1990 the old station building (after its renovation) has had various uses: exhibitions, a multi-use room, and offices.
Manel Nadal built this house which would be later surrounded by a lush garden with diverse species. The relationship between the Nadal family (cork makers and sellers) and the Oller family (selling champagne corks) was sealed with the wedding of Joaquim Nadal and Àngela Oller in 1918. They moved into this house for good, once the Civil War was over. In 1984, the house became the property of the local government and in 1989 it became used as the Town Hall.
The modernist movement coincided with one of the eras of growth in the cork industry, and Cassa is well represented. In this house, blueprints of a modernist approach were used, and there are hints of Domènech i Montaner and Puig i Cadafalch.
The exterior facade has not been changed and it retains the original decoration, which boasts ornamentation, stained glass windows, and wrought elements, with floral and medieval models. Apart from the roof of the old dining-room (now the plenary hall), the original elements of the interior have been conserved: mosaic squares, some of the stained glass windows, and the banister made of plaster with floral motifs.
From 1892 to 1969 the narrow railway line linked the city of Girona to the port of Sant Feliu de Guíxols and towns connected with the cork industry. Due to the boost that it gave the cork industry, the railway was also important for the farming community, as it offered a new means of transport to take products to the markets. It was also important for the social sector, given that special services were organised in order to attend festivals in neighbouring towns.
A little after the closure of the railway line, Josep M. Bregante acquired an engine, a car, and a van which had been constructed in Germany. The engine, bought in 1905 (number 6), is one of the engines that closed the track and it ran on a boiler that would use between 8 and 10 kg of coal per kilometre. Both the car and the van are from the year 1891. The car was a passenger car and is the model A3; it was a First Class car that was later converted into Second Class, which meant transforming 12 leather-covered seats into two wooden benches for 16 people. The van was used for carrying luggage.
This is a notable example of industrial modern architecture. In 1896 the Electrical Society of Cassa requested the construction of this building for public streetlights, and in the year 1901 the General Acetylene Streetlight Company from Barcelona moved in. The current aspect owes a lot to this fact. On the outside, there is the company sign, glazed earthenware, traces of some stylized designs, and the entrance gate for carriages (wrought iron with floral decoration) made by Antoni Planas Serreta, who was from Cassà de la Selva and by whom there are other magnificent examples of gates in Cassà.
This company produced and provided acetylene gas for public streetlights in Cassà, replacing the old oil supply, even though eventually acetylene gas was itself replaced by electricity. To produce acetylene gas, carbide stone were submerged in water, which is why the building has huge basements that were used for water storage.
This building had a 25-metre high chimney, giving the edifice a distinct industrial character. Unfortunately, it was demolished in 1937 to prevent it being a target for bombardments.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the construction of carrer Ample was begun. It was the housing estate project of Baudili Duran, who linked the heart of the old town with railway. One of the first buildings that was constructed in this street dates from 1893, and it is the old warehouse can Duran (later used as a cinema) on the corner of carrer del Reverand J. Bosch. From that year on, they constructed modest houses with ground and first floors, which had little workshops for corks (in the end converted to living spaces). On this street there are interesting examples of architecture from the latter end of the 19th century up until the end of the 1920s: can Cubó, can Vilahur, can Duran-Olivé, can Garaoina (the Esteba family) on the left, and can Ruscalleda on the right, on the corner of carrer del Raval. Here is can Cubó, in nineteenth-century style, and the house belonged to Josep Pla, master builder to whom we owe a large part of the buildings in Cassa from the end of the 19th century to the first decades of the 20th century.
A medieval house of 2 floors with Gothic traces. In 1900 it was fully renovated and so there is very little left of the original facade. Even so, there does remain a stone ashlar arch, corresponding to an old door and gothic window, now blocked up. Other points of note are the biforate gothic openings, with trilobular arches and central pillar; the cornice; and the acroterio work. It may have been the sexton’s house, a person who was just as (or more) important than the priest. Later, it was known as the house of the canons since it was there that they collected the tithes for the seat in Girona.
The old centre of Cassà underwent a great transformation due to the cork industry. Carrer Major rebuilt some houses linked to the industrial world with modern and eclectic elements. One of those is this house, can Jubert, whose owners were also owners of the Reliable factory (1926-1996) and the bank Jubert i Presas (1902-1957), whose office was on the ground floor of the building. In the first half of the 20th century in Cassà, unusually, there were two banks, which were set up to cope with the financial necessities of the cork businesses. This house, renovated in 1928 by construction manager Josep Pla, boasts a spectacular facade. In the same street was the modernist house of can Menna (now disappeared), where there was an entrance to an important cork factory, la Figueras i Dausà.
The creation of business cooperatives was closely linked to industrial workers societies that, here in Cassà, were represented mostly by cork workers. This cooperative, which already existed in 1884, had more than 400 members and there they could obtain products for lower prices. The cooperative ended at the beginning of the 1960s. The two buildings belong to two different eras: the year 1901 and the year 1929. On the newest building, of only one floor, you can still read the upper part of the name La Protectora. On the respective facades is decoration of floral and geometric motifs.
In the travessera del passeig de Vilaret remain some of the spacious grounds of the cork factories which led on to the large windows which lit the workrooms. At the back of the grounds were the house of the owners and the workers that had the main facade on carrer de la Indústria.
The passeig de Vilaret was built in 1894 with the name of Placa Nova and it was the result of the widening of the town towards the road. Through passeig de Vilaret was access to another important factory, the Oller factory, behind which was the owner’s house. Today it is well-preserved (number 28 on carrer de Marina). Next to this factory, on the corner of carrer de Marina, can be seen another spectacular building, can Figueres. It is from the year 1920 and designed by the architect Isidre Bosch; it has one of the most magnificent wrought iron gates made by Antoni Planas Serreta on the side of carrer de Marina.
A notable example of oak cork in the trunk of which one can observe the mark of the last time its bark was peeled for the cork industry. This tree was planted in 1959 or 1960 in front of the entrance of the now disappeared warehouse of the cork magnate Enric Mestres i Roca, and is next to what was the cooperative of Cassà Uprodeco (Union of producers of waste cork), founded in 1952 and launched by cork businessmen. It was popularly known as the Trust and almost all of the cork companies formed a part of it.
This building used to be an important cork factory, Rich-Xiberta, even though before it had been a private secular school, the Polytechnic School of Cassa, popularly known as can Vilaret. Founded in the year 1887, it was moved to this building in 1912 and it was renowned for its innovative teaching. At the end of the street, one can glimpse another house belonging to the cork magnates, can Tou (Dausà factory), now on carrer Indústria. Carrer Indústria was the old way to la Bisbal and they started building it in the 18th century due to the necessity for the town to grow that way. The street used to be called carrer de la Llet, even though in 1887 its name was changed to carrer de la Indústria, which indicates the importance this activity had. There were factories like that of the previously mentioned can Tou, can Calau, can Cassà, can Turon, can Barceló, can Xiberta.... and the second bank of Cassà, the Bank of Bosch i Codolà (1909-1956).
Family house from the line of Trincheria and which the Town Hall purchased in the year 2000. There, great rural landowners lived and they had interests in the cork industry in the Gavarres. One of them was Marçal de Trincheria, a great advocate of the cork industry in the Girona provinces and author of the book The League of Hispanic-Portuguese Customs at the end of the 19th century. Compared to other modern buildings in Cassà, Can Trinxeria is the best example of the neo-medieval style. It looks at a historical interruption, neo-Gothic in style, which would place it in the line of reinterpretation of a local Catalan neo-Gothic palace, a sort of urban mansion. Josep Balet, the architect, incorporated native elements, such as the splendid hunting scene on the balcony of the first floor. Other distinguishing features on the facade are the sculpture of Saint George, under the semicircular balcony; the decoration of figures, plants, and animals; and the pinnacles with free-standing medieval-inspired figures. Further features of interest are the murals and the inside room with a barrel vault (shells on the interior) and the neo-Arab windmill of octagonal shape in the garden.
Leisure, social, and reading space of the new industrial society that was made up of a cafe (built in 1892) and a theatre and ballroom (1897), which were very popular. The role of the reader in cork factories, a worker who read the daily news to the rest of the workers, illustrates the importance that the working movement gave to education.
At first it was the headquarters of the Recreational Circle, and in 1912 it became the headquarters of the Centre of the Republican Union. Rafael Masó was put in charge an extensive renovation, though, unfortunately, practically nothing of this remains. The Centre was the setting for numerous political activities, but it was above all a popular social meeting point until the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1942, it gave way to the Recreational Circle, an organisation that still remains, now known as the Recreational Centre.
The ground floor has been modified while the upper part has kept most of its original features. In the central area, where there is a cornice, was the name of Centre of the Republican Union.
The architect Isidre Bosch designed the building as a ballroom for an industrial society that needed new leisure spaces. In 1969 it was converted into a disco. Hence, first as the Salà Gala and later Sir Thomas, this place was the centre of fun and games for young people in Cassà and the surrounding towns for almost three quarters of the century. After remaining shut for many years, the Town Hall purchased it in 1998 and then in 2003 they reopened it for cultural activities.
The building displays an eclectic style and it has a nave with three levels. The two facades, which have barely been touched over the years, stand out for its stylistically different decorative elements, for its decorative crowns, and for its use of wrought iron.
The building opposite is also interesting: it is known as el Rotllo and is a building constructed in 1912 by the same architect. Its facade is characteristic due to its modern elements.
It is a remarkable example of modernist housing particular to cork businessmen. Its old owner, Josep Serra i Carbó (1857 - 1940) registered different patents such as a formula for agglomerated cork which he sold to the Crown Cork and seal Corp. of Baltimore (USA), which was used to make discs that made common corks become impenetrable. He sold the patent and made a fortune.
The architect Isidre Bosch designed this house while its owners were living in Baltimore. At the back of the house was the factory, known as can Serra (now disappeared), which was visible from carrer del Molí.
In its construction are different medieval styles. The layout of the house reflects a central diagram which we see in the tower projecting from the building. This tower displays arches in a Mozarabic style and the railing is formed by artificial stone ox-eyes, which follows the gothic design. Other distinguishing features are the stuccoes and stylized designs, the paintings, and later the garden which still retains the composition of the era.
This is the oldest and most important local architectural complex in Cassà, made up of a house and connected tower. The ensemble was constructed by the Salvà family in the 16th century; it then went over to local authorities and by the mid-19th century it went to the Frigola family, except the tower, which remained the property of the local government and was used as a prison.
Other uses of can Frigola have been – to name only some examples – a hostel and a shop selling bread, wine, and meat.
Notable features of the facade of can Frigola are the great vaulted entrance gate; the gothic-style conic arches; and the square tower covered by four slopes, which has four floors connected by a helical staircase. The second floor and the circular watchtower are features of a later renovation, possibly in the 18th century.
This is the only porch in Cassà. The original features that have been conserved are the bases of the natural stone porch and the flagstones.
In the year 1725, the land went to local authorities and there they built a building with a porch for a place to put public scales obtained by royal license in medieval times. The scales were stone and had to be used in all transactions of grain as a guide for calculating weight. The porch was sheltered by a roof but in 1841 the Town Hall authorised Francesc Oller to construct a building on top of the roof.
It is one of the most enchanting parts of Cassà and one of the squares that remain from the small medieval centre from which Cassà expanded. So, for centuries, it was a crucial place for both commercial and social activity. It was full of shops, and in the central space was the market; on certain days, there were all sorts of festivities. Here, there were also old facilities, such as the hospital for the poor in the 16th century. It was also the place where the jury members of the University of Cassà were chosen (standard in local government) by way of rhyming couplets. It was an odd method of selection which is described perfectly in a royal decree from the 16th century, and which was read out loud before starting the ceremony in the town square.
Construction started in the 16th century on the remains of a Romanic church dating from the 12th century. The style is mostly gothic with Renaissance elements on the facade and neoclassical features in the sanctuaries of the transepts. The great baroque altar built by sculptor Pau Costa was destroyed in the Civil War. From the original altar there only remain four Solomonic columns, the doors of Saint Peter and Paul, and the display case of the pyx. The rest is a reproduction by Ramon Pericay in the Sixties of the last century. Also destroyed during the Civil War were the beautiful baroque altar de les Sogues, that of Pau Costa, and the oldest of Roser. Other notable features are the sculpture of Saint Martin, parish patron, at the main entrance, and the Romanic capitals which are embedded in some interior surfaces. The large neo-gothic windows in the nave were built from the year 1926.
The new industrial society brought an improvement to the quality of teaching. In order to alleviate the precarious situation in state schools in the 19th century, secular schools (such as the school Vilaret) were founded and religious ones. The latter were situated in this street: one for girls, called the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Maria (founded in 1863), and one for boys, called La Salle (founded in 1881), which still continues its education today. In 2005 the Catalan Government awarded it the Saint George cross. There are two key features; they are situated on opposite sides of the school, and they are both dated from the year 1906 by the master builder, Josep Pla. One is the facade looking onto the carrer de l’Estació, composed of neoclassical features, and on the other side is the chapel of the Nuns, which is neo-gothic in style and is now used as an auditorium. In 1978, the nuns stopped teaching and the Patron of Christian Schools took the chapel over to expand the school and to ensure the continuation of its educational role.