CATALONIA, a province of Spain. It occupies the nort-east extremity of the peninsula, and is bounded on the north by the Pyrenees. which separate it from France ; on the east by the Mediterranean, on the south by Valencia, and by Arragon on the west ; extending from east to west about 40 leagues, and 4 1 from south west to north-cast. This province is almost throughout extremely mountainous, but interspersed with many rich and well-cultivated plains and vallies, which are watered and fertilized by numerous rivers. Its mountains, how ever, are merely branches of the Pyrenees, which, stretching far into the country, form second-rate moun tains, of which the chief arc, Mon-Negre, Valgorguina, San-Gran, Alsinellas, Requesens, Monseny, and Mont serrat. Of these, Montserrat is the mint remarkable, both for its situation, its appearance, and the conq osition and arrangement of its rocks. It is about 3 3 J feet above the level of the sea, and appears to stand com pletely insulated and unconnected with any other moun tain, rearing its base and rugged head above a hilly coun try, like a pile of Gothic spires. Its huge chills shoot up to a stupendous elevation, and their blanched and naked summits arc split into a variety of shapes. Sonic of these rocks are composed of limestone of differcrt colours, cemented together by sand and a yellow ca1c4 rcous earth, and others of freestone and white quartz, mixed with touchstone; indeed, the whole of Montser rat is evidently formed of that species of aggregation, known to naturalists by the name offiudding-stone.
Though most of the mountain appears blanched and barren, yet the interstices among the cliffs present the most luxuriant vegetation. These spaces are filled with dose wood and deciduous trees, intermingled with aro matic shrubs and flowers, which are nourished by the rich earth which is dissolved, and washed down from the rocks by the rains. The great variety of plants with which these woods abound, would amply satisfy the cu riosity of the botanist. There are few evergreens in Eu rope that may not be found here ; and when Swin hurne visited Montserrat in 1775, the apothecary Of the convent had a list of 437 species of plants, and 40 of trees, which grew in its clefts. There is, however, a
great scarcity of water. It is even supposed that there is no spring in the whole mountain; and the streamlets which are sometimes seen to descend from its sides, are said to proceed from reservoirs formed by the rain in the crevices of the rocks, and running in a bed of po rous stones that lies across the middle of it. Besides the convent of Monserrat, which is situated in a large cleft on the eastern face of the mountain, there are fif teen hermitages scattered over its surface, some of which are placed on the very pinnacle of the rocks, and in ca vities hewn out of the _highest cliffs. Between Figue ras and Gerona, are two mountains standing together, which are remarkable for their uniformity. They are both of an equal height, and of a pyramidal form ; and, according to Mr Bowles, have all the signs of ancient volcanoes. But the greatest curiosity of this province is the mountain of Salt, in the vicinity of Cardona, which is about 500 feet high, without a cleft or crevice, and nearly three miles in circumference. It is composed almost entirely of salt, which is very white, except a small quantity of a reddish and of a bluish cast ; and its side, which stands close to the river Cardonero, is nearly perpendicular. Of the substance of this mountain, the inhabitants of Cardona make a variety of articles for sale, such as altars, figures of saints, crosses, chandeliers, salt-cellars, Sr.c. which are as clear as crystal, but cannot be supposed to be equally lasting.
The other mountains of Catalonia contain numerous and valuable minerals. Marbles arc found in great va riety, and are wrought to a very considerable extent. There at e several iron mines near Alias and Taull ; lead mines near Tortosa ; and of its numerous coal mines, that of Clansa is the best. Amethysts, topazes, and coloured crystals, arc found near Vial, which arc ma nufactured and sold by the goldsmiths of Barcelona, and there are also mines of antimony, copper, tin, alum, vi triol, silver, and one of gold. Among its mineral waters, the most remarkable cold springs arc those of Monistrol, Vail de Ebron, Tortosa, and Rivas: and its principal hot springs are at Caldas, Garriga, Gerona, Espluga, and Tore llo.