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History of Catalonia and Spain

History of Catalonia. The Bishops of La Seu D’Urgell

La Seu D’Urgell is situated in the centre of a plain surrounded by mountains and has, since time immemorial , played a notable role as crossroads on the routes from Lleida plain to Cerdanya and Roussillion, Central Catalonia and Andorra and to the other side of the Pyrenees (France). This fact explains the presence of humans in this area from the earliest times, as well its geographical importance. It has often been speculated that the first precursor of La Seu D’Urgell may have existed in connection with the hill of Castelciutat. Some historians have pointed to the possibility of having been there a fairly important late – Roman military presence on this spot, and even the existence of an urban settlement and Cathedral. The name Castellciutat would have led to the assumption, although it has not been adequately verified by archaeological or documentary evidence.

However, what we can be sure of is the fact that the current centre of La Seu D’Urgell arose around the area occupied by the old town. It seems that in the late – Roman period this area, which was a crossroad at the intersection of roads defined by the rivers Segre and Valira, might have undergone some degree of fairly dense occupation according to the archaeological remains that were discovered just a few years ago, at the ancient Church of Santa Eulalia, beneath the Town Hall of La Seu D’Urgell. In 531, the existence of a Bishop of Urgell is documented for the first time, in relation to Bishop Justus, who attended the third Council of Toledo that year. The creation of a new diocese in the Pyrenees, the circumstances of which remain obscured, would have been accompanied by the building of a first cathedral.

Although the lack of archaeological evidence makes it difficult to locate this first building, which would become important in the future evolution of the city, much of the academic would agree that this temple would have been built in a central location close to the current cathedral. The ecclesiastical centre of the diocese of Urgell, and the bishopric that would have given its stimulus, would already have had a major role in the organization of the Pyrenees lands during the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries.

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