L’Ampolla was my first port of call, excuse the pun, when I decided to rent an apartment and see whether I would stay here long-term. Located on the Costa Dorada, in those early days, I was absolutely amazed at the great value for money, which is not just peculiar only to this village, to be had at lunch with Franco’s creation – the Menu del Dia. With average prices ranging from €8 to €10, and the quality and quantity of food differing from restaurant to restaurant – the one thing I knew very quickly was that you could get fed and watered (or wined) for a low-budget at this time of the day in most restaurants in the village.
L’Ampolla was where I went to my first fiestas, where I ran quickly into, and even quicker out of, the bullring during the main summer fiesta, and where I also learnt to appreciate that Catalans are very proud people.
Most visitors go to L’Ampolla for its beaches and beautiful natural surroundings, especially the unique Delta de l’Ebre. The sea, the land, the bay, the dunes are all all key ingredients in creating the quintessential Mediterranean essence that belongs in the village and area.
For a visitor who wants sun, sea, sand and fun, and bars and restaurants, within an easy walking distance – L’Ampolla can be a good choice. Its little port looks pretty in the sunlight and is surrounded by some places to drink and eat. It’s a perfect base for those who want to explore the Delta de l’Ebre, just for its beauty, beaches and food, or for its excellent birdwatching and kitesurfing.
With a population of a little over 3600, this is not a place for those who want a busy, big town holiday. The village has some beaches that have shallow, generally calm water so this makes it suitable for younger families. It still has a fishing village feel about it, around the port area, but there has also been some development.
If you are travelling as a family and you’re happy to have a drink with a playground adjacent, then head to Can Piñana, in the centre of the village, overlooking the port. For a simple family holiday it can be a good destination, with some locations that give adults that relaxation, while the children can play. Another one like this is the Camping Bar. Although there isn’t a playground beside it, it does overlook one of the beaches.
Although the origins of L’Ampolla can be traced quite far back historically, the village only actually came into existence in 1990, when the El Perello municipality was divided up. The name L’Ampolla is a translation of the Catalan word for ‘bottle’ in Catalan and this comes from the then shaped mouth of the Ebro River.
The origins of the town date way back to the Iberian tribes. L’Ampolla has been identified by historians as the Hellenic city that was known by the name of Lebedontia which was populated by an Iber tribe, known as the erdets or edentants. The discovery of remains of both Pre-Roman and Roman occupation have been found in the form of amphoras, coins and the baked clay images of women known as antefixes.
The big link in the history of L’Ampolla is that which it shares with the fishing and sea trades. In the 16th century Pope Adrian VI departed the town by ship to embark on a journey to Rome. Historical documents from this time tell of a large number of fishermen and their families living at various sites in and around the town.
In the latter third of the 19th century much progress was being made along this stretch of Spanish coastline and L’Ampolla began to feel the influences of the larger Catalan cities. The railway station at L’Ampolla was built in 1867 and began operating on the 8th May of that same year. In those early days L’Ampolla was one of the main stopping points on the cami Real, or royal path, which ran from Tarragona Spain to Valencia. Towards the end of this century the beaches of the town started to become havens for those wishing to bathe in the sea. This became so popular that a special bathers train came into operation which linked Tortosa and L’Ampolla.
The town has been affected over the years by some significant historical events. In 1917, during WWI, a German submarine sunk the Maxsherda. The town was presented with a bronze statue by the French government as a sign of appreciation for the way the townspeople came to aid of those shipwrecked.
The main battle fought by town during the 20th century however was that for independence. On the 16th of January 1937 the Official Gazette of the Generalitat, the Autonomous Goverment of Cartalonia, published a landmark decree that acknowledged the separation of L’Ampolla district form Perello Municipality. Thus granting its status as an independent municipal district. In 1938 however, the decree of Burgos came into being, and the legal activities carried out by the republican government were prohibited. This is turn meant that that decree was suspended which had acknowledged L’Ampolla’s independence.
The town’s desire for independence once more came to the forefront when the Franco regime ended. The Independence Committee was set up in 1976 and this succeeded in the initiation of the legal processes to be set in motion. This took 13 long years to reach fruition as it wasn’t until the 15th November 1989 that the ruling was passed by the Spanish Supreme Court to grant the creation of the new, and independent, municipal district of L’Ampolla. Just over 3 months later, on the 28th February 1990, the Supreme Court passed another new judgement which completed the decades long fight for L’Ampolla to be self governing as a municipality within Catalonia. The 5th May 1990 was a historic day for the town as it was on this date that the Town Council came into being.
The things to don’t start and end with the beaches, as lovely as they may be. L’Ampolla offers a range of activities to suit all tastes, be they sport, nature, gastronomy, traditions or culture. There’s never a shortage of things going on in L’Ampolla, and being a typical Catalan town there are, of course, many festivals and other special events going on throughout the year.
Every Wednesday morning there is an open air market held at Calle Vista Alegre and between June and September there is also an arts and crafts market held every Saturday from 1830-2200 in Rall Str.
All photos, except one shot, in this Travel Guide are by David Worsick
We have edited the photos to fit with our blog style, but you can see originals and lots of other superb photos by him over at National Geographic David Worsick
Photo in History Section Credit: