The Canigó (Catalan: Canigó , French: Canigou French pronunciation: ​[kaniɡu]; Latin: mons Canigosus or Canigonis) is a mountain located in the Pyrenees of southern France.

Canigó, December 2004
Highest point
Elevation2,784 m (9,134 ft)
Prominence550 m (1,800 ft)
Coordinates42°31′08″N 02°27′24″E / 42.51889°N 2.45667°E / 42.51889; 2.45667Coordinates: 42°31′08″N 02°27′24″E / 42.51889°N 2.45667°E / 42.51889; 2.45667
Parent rangePyrenees
First ascentAccording to tradition, in 1285 by Peter III of Aragon
Easiest routehike

The Canigó is located less than 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the sea and has an elevation of 2,784.66 metres (9,136.0 ft). Due to its sharp flanks and its dramatic location near the coast, until the 18th century the Canigou was believed to be the highest mountain in the Pyrenees.[1]

Being between south and Northern Catalonia, the mountain has a historical symbolical significance for Catalan people.


The Canigó is located in Pyrénées-Orientales, south of Prades and north of Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste. Its summit lies on the border between two communes: Vernet-les-Bains and Taurinya (although the territories of two other communes - Casteil and Valmanya - approach quite closely to the summit).[2] Its location makes it visible from the plains of Roussillon and from Conflent in France, and as well from Empordà in Spain.[3]

Twice a year, in early February and at the end of October, with good weather, the Canigó can be seen at sunset from as far as Marseille, 250 km (160 mi) away, by refraction of light. This phenomenon was observed in 1808 by baron Franz Xaver von Zach from the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica in Marseille.[4] All year long, it can also be seen, with good weather, from Agde, Port-Camargue and the Montagne Noire.

Trekking and sightseeingEdit

View from the summit

Jeep tracks on the north side of the massif lead to the Chalet des Cortalets (at 2150 m) which is a popular outpost with walkers.

There are two ancient monasteries at the foot of the mountain, Martin-du-Canigou and Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa.

Canigó FlameEdit

The mountain has symbolical significance for Catalan people. On its summit stands a cross that is often decorated with the Catalan flag.[5] Every year on 23 June, the night before St. John's day (nit de Sant Joan), there is a ceremony called Flama del Canigó (Canigou Flame), where a fire is lit at the mountaintop. People keep a vigil during the night and take torches lit on the fire in a spectacular torch relay to light bonfires elsewhere.[6] Many bonfires are lit in this way all over the Pyrénées-Orientales, Catalonia, Valencian Community, and Balearic Islands (theoretically), but in practice only goes through the Pyrénées-Orientales and Catalonia.[7]


The Canigó inspired the epic poem "Canigó" by Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer i Santaló. In these verses Verdaguer compares the snowy mountain to a Magnolia flower (pages 27–28):

Lo Canigó és una magnòlia immensa
que en un rebrot del Pirineu se bada;
per abelles té fades que la volten,
per papallons los cisnes i les àligues.
Formen son càlzer escarides serres
que plateja l’hivern i l’estiu daura,
grandiós beire on beu olors l’estrella,
los aires rellentor, los núvols aigua.
Les boscúries de pins són sos bardissos,
los Estanyols ses gotes de rosada,
i és son pistil aqueix palau aurífic,
somni d’aloja que del cel davalla.

The Canigó is an immense magnolia
that blooms in an offshoot of the Pyrenees;
its bees are the fairies that surround it,
and its butterflies the swans and the eagles.
Its cup are jagged mountain chains,
colored in silver by the winter and in gold by the summer,
huge cup where the star drinks fragrances,
the airs freshness and the clouds water.
The pine forests are its hedges
and the ponds its dew drops,
and its pistil is that golden palace,
seen by the nymph in her dreams descending from heaven.

Sir Humphry Davy's "The Canigou", dated 26 January [1814], was also inspired by a visit to the spot:

In the eastern sky the stars their lustre lose
In more diffused light, as if their orbs
Had melted into air, and form'd the day:
Above, the heavens receive a brighter tint
Of purest azure; and beneath they glow
With lovely hues, which every instant change, —
Now purple and now orange; and a gleam
Of golden light pours on the tranquil main.
I cast my eyes upon thy western coast,
And lo! thy giant form, O Canigou!
As if a new creation of the day,
Framed of the morning cloud for ever fix'd,
And gilded by the expiring morning star.
So bright thy glittering snows appear, they seem
To form another dawn: thy base is dark,
Rising through mists that mingle with the wave!
The orb of light its flood of lustre pours
From the mid-heavens upon the tranquil sea
Without a tide, whose silver mirror spreads,
Reflecting forms of mountain-majesty
Along the Iberian coast; and, more remote,
In gentle agitation feels the breeze,
That to its deep and lovely azure gives
The life of motion. All the morning mists
Have vanished, and the mid-day sunbeams sleep
Upon thy snows, or glitter where the streams
They feed with crystal waters pour in foam
Amidst thy dark deep glens and shaggy woods,
Where the bright pine and darker cork trees blend:
Their varied foliage forms a boundary
Where winter seems to mingle with the spring.
And lower still, the olive tree appears —
The work of culture, and the leafless vine,
And the green meadows, where the torrents sleep,
Or move obedient to the wants of man.
Nature in savage wildness — mountain strength, —
Breathes in one picture with the forms of art,
And all that stamp the social character.
A city's walls majestically rise,
The guardian of a realm whose sounds of war
Alarm the ear. Along the sandy shore
The path the Carthaginian trod appears,
When from the Pyrenees his veterans pour'd,
To try the strength of Rome, and shed profuse
Her patriot blood at Cannae. On the wave
Triumphant ride the fleets of Ocean's Queen.
My heart throbs quicker, and a healthful glow
Fills all my bosom. Albion, thee I hail! —
Mother of heroes! mighty in thy strength!
Deliverer! from thee the fire proceeds
Withering the tyrant; not a fire alone
Of war destructive, but a living light
Of honour, glory, and security, —
A light of science, liberty, and peace!
A moment past the sky was bright and clear,
But now a mist obscures the ambient air;
The mist becomes a cloud, which gathers round
Thy brow; at first so white, — so bright, so pure, —
The snows seem dark beneath its crisped fringe;
And now it spreads a thicker canopy,
And rapidly descends, and fills thy glens,
And covers all thy rocks. Its tints are changed,
Its fleecy whiteness gone; the sunbeams fade,
And lose their glory in its sullen gloom,
Portentous of the storm! And now the rain
Descends in floods — the angry lightning gleams,
The thunder roars; the tempest howls along
Thy echoing cliffs; and the vexed main
Mingles her white foam with the troubled floods,
The torrents from the mountains rolling down!

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Histoire du Roussillon - Le relief des Pyrénées-Orientales
  2. ^ Pierre Bousigue, Canigou - de l'ombre à la lumière, 2019, p118
  3. ^ Guide du Roussillon et de l'Andorre : touristique, historique, social, économique, Perpignan, Sud Roussillon, 1968, 286 p.
  4. ^ Cárdenas, Fabricio (2014). 66 petites histoires du Pays Catalan [66 Little Stories of Catalan Country] (in French). Perpignan: Ultima Necat. ISBN 978-2-36771-006-8. OCLC 893847466.
  5. ^ Pyrénées Team - Croix du Canigó
  6. ^ Vermut a la rebuda de la Flama del Canigó
  7. ^ Festes - l'espai on comença la festa


External linksEdit

  • All information about the Canigou massif: nature, culture and itineraries (in Catalan)