Vilafranca del Penedès
|Vilafranca del Penedès|
|• Mayor||Pere Regull i Riba (Convergence and Union)|
|• Total||19.65 km2 (7.59 sq mi)|
|Elevation||223 m (732 ft)|
|• Density||2,000/km2 (5,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Vilafranca del Penedès, or simply Vilafranca (Catalan pronunciation: [biləˈfɾaŋkə]), is the capital of the comarca of the Alt Penedès in Catalonia, Spain. The Spanish spelling of the name, Villafranca del Penedés, is no longer in official use since 1982 (Law 12/1982, of October 8). It is situated in the Penedès Depression on the left bank of the Foix River, and on the main axis of communication from Barcelona to Tarragona and Valencia, served by a Rodalies Barcelona line 4 and by the AP-7 autopista as well as by the C-243 towards Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, and C-15 (formerly called C-244) roads to Vilanova i la Geltrú and Igualada respectively.
The town was founded in the middle of the 12th century as a result of the decline of Olèrdola, which had been until then the main local centre. It was established as the seat of a vegueria in 1304. The Corts were held in the town in 1218 under King James I of Aragon, and again in 1358–59 and in 1367. King Peter III of Aragon died while staying at the royal palace in Vilafranca in 1285.
The gothic church of Santa Maria and the royal palace (Palau Reial) are situated in the historic town centre. The latter building from the thirteenth century houses the town museum, with collections of archeology, paleontology, ornithology, ceramics and sacred art, and a Museum of Wine (Museu del Vi). Other notable monuments include the church of Sant Joan, the convent of Sant Francesc and a number of old merchants' houses such as the Palau del Fraret, the Casal dels Gomà and the Casal del Marquès d'Alfarràs.
Vilafranca is a centre for the local wine industry, along with neighbouring Sant Sadurní d'Anoia. Other local industries include textiles, metallurgy, food processing and construction materials. It is also an important commercial centre.
Vilafranca is also the birthplace of the Penedesenca fowl, famous for their chocolate-coloured eggs.
Vilafranca del Penedès has grown steadily at the expense of the more rural areas of Alt Penedès, aided by its excellent transport links and by the strength of the local economy (particularly the wine industry).
Four outlying villages are included within the municipality of Vilafranca del Penedès (populations as of 2005):
- El Bordellet (9)
- El Molí d'en Rovira (166)
- Perepau (87)
- Les Salines (85)
Motor racing history
Vilafranca del Penedès is part of the long history of motor racing in Catalonia, from 1908-1920 events were staged over public roads from Sitges to Canyelles and Vilanova i la Geltrú, and from Mataró to Vilassar de Mar and Argentona. Between 1921 and 1923 the RMCC ran the Penya Rhin Grand Prix over a 9 mile circuit around the town of Vilafranca del Penedès until it was replaced by a short lived purpose built circuit, the Sitges Terramar.
- Panareda Clopés, Josep Maria; Ríos Calvet, Jaume; Rabella Vives, Josep Maria (1989). Guia de Catalunya, Barcelona: Caixa de Catalunya. ISBN 84-87135-01-3 (Spanish). ISBN 84-87135-02-1 (Catalan).
- Enciclopèdia catalana bàsica (Ed. El Periódico), Barcelona, 1996.
- Official website
- Vilafranca del Penedés city map
- Vilafranca del Penedes Portal
- Information from the Generalitat de Catalunya
- Information from the Institut d'Estadística de Catalunya
- Taxi Vilafranca del Penedés