Coll de Manrella

The Coll de Manrella (711 m.) is a cross-border road pass located in the Pyrenees , connecting the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales to the province of Girona, Catalonia. It links the French hamlet of Las Illas and the Spanish town of La Vajol . It is made up on the French side by an unpaved track, open to the public since 2011, which extends past the border the Spanish road GI-505 which is tarmaced.

The Manrella Pass is part of the route that traces the path traveled by the Spanish refugees fleeing the Spanish Civil War and went into exile in 1939. It is near this route that the Catalan President Lluís Companys , the Spanish President Manuel Azaña and the Basque Lehendakari José Antonio Aguirre entered France, . The French gendarmerie was waiting for the refugees at Las Illas to lead them to the internment camps .

At the top of the pass on the Catalan side is an imposing pyramid-shaped monument called the “Temple of Peace”, built in homage to Lluís Companys. Even if this is not the exact place of its passage, with the refugees taking the neighboring Col de Lli which is more inaccessible for tourist to access nowadays.

Source: Spanish Geoportal IDEE
Source: French Geoportail

As a rural border crossing there were no distinct markers to identify the border at the col. The mounument clearly was in Spain and there were French and Spanish either side of the col. The was a rock in the centre of the circular road out, one side with Catalan writing, the other with French. Unofficial and not on the border but interesting none the less.

Spanish Monument

The Col

It is not possible to identify exactly where the border is, however towards the north there are French signs and towards the south Spanish ones. A large stone has country specific graffiti on each side.

French Side

Looking into France
French Sign
Standing in France
French Graffiti

Spanish Side

Spanish Graffiti

Border marker #559

Of particular border interest there is a border marker close to the col. Taking a track from the monument and walking perhaps 100m there is a large rock within the trees, on the reverse side of the rock there is an engraved and painted 559.

References:

  1. The bordermarkers of the Pyrenees : all markers ( Eef Berns) Website here
  2. Markers of the Spanish-French border in Girona “Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659-1868)” Website here

Date of Visit: 02.08.2020

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