The Canigó, French Grand Site and the sacred mountain of the Catalans
Canigó, Catalan Pyrenees, FranceJuly 2012
The French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy has recently declared the Canigó massif as a grand site and officially changed its name from the French ‘Canigou’ to ‘Canigó’, as in Catalan. The Ministry acknowledges the name ‘Canigó’ and justifies the change by recognizing the mountain as the sacred mountain of the Catalan country.
This characteristic, which dates back to prehistoric times, was celebrated by, among others, the Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer in his great poem Canigó, and explains why on the summit of the mountain (2,784 m) every year a fire is lit from which all other fires in Catalonia are lit during the celebrations of Saint John’s Night (24th of June).
The declaration of grand site for the Canigó massif acknowledges the exceptional values it harbours, its excellent state of conservation and the importance of the conservation, management and local development project being carried out in the area. In addition, it also represents a reward for the respectful visitor model regarding the conservation of the protected area.
This declaration will strengthen the protection of this unique Pyrenean protected site, over 23,000 ha, via the joint promotion with other grands sites. Currently, the Canigó is the only mountain in the Pyrenees to be declared ‘Grand Site’, as the Cirque de Gavarnie, which had also received this distinction in the past, lost it.