On the right side of the Segre River, occupies the lower basin of the Rialb. The term runs from the Segre to the north until the heights of Cogulló de Sant Quiri (1355 m) on the border with Pallars Jussà. The town is part of the natural region of East Segre situated in the Pyrenean foothills, which leaves the plains of Lleida and approaches the mountains and valleys of western Catalan Pyrenees.
The surface of the term is 145km² and its altitude of 747 meters.
This municipality is formed by a large crowd of old parishes, towns or hamlets, country houses, towers and ancient monasteries with diverse past and history, units in modern times in this unique and great place. Formerly the term originally differed into two parts: the Rialb Jussà, that comprised the lowest and oriental lands, that is to say, the urban or religious cores of La Torre, Politg, Sant Girvés, la Serra and l’Oliva, and the Rialb Sobirà, , that did reference to the highest and enough far lands of the Segre.
La Baronia de Rialb comprised the hamlets of La Torre, Palau, Pallerols, El Puig, Guàrdia, Sant Martí, l’Oliva and El Cerdanyès, while Bellfort term was part of the Hospitaller Order of St. Salvator d’Isot, merged soon with Susterris in the Pallars Jussà. La Donzell and Sant Cristòfol, who constituted the old endowment of the monastery of Sant Cristòfol de Salinoves were property of the Elins monastery, after of the Castellbó canons and in 1685 bought by Joan Puig i Moles and went to the Cluet family. Gualter and its place was a former Benedictine priory subsidiary of Ripoll and, after 1592, was joined to the canonical chapter of Solsona. Vilaplana was a domain the baron or Lord of Tiurana. The fusion of all these places in the current town was around 1840, following a law enacted by the government of Madrid.
The name of Barony, similar to the baronies of St. Oïsme or La Vansa, comes from the fact that a good sector of its term had been a former municipal court or barony structured since the fourteenth century, , which the first barons where the Ribelles,followed by others such as Alentorn, Rocabertí, Casaldàguila or Pinós and as last, the Mercader and Sadurní. The determinative Rialb, common to many other centers of the term, is the river Rialb or Alb River (from Rivo Albo in Latin), meaning the white river.
Regarding the fortifications in the demarcation of the Barony of Rialb, place names like Bastida, Bellfort, Guàrdia, Guardiola or La Torre, make reference to to ancient towers or watchtowers and fortified villages, , which, together with Rialb, Salinoves and Tarabau castles shelter, make up the network of protection and control of Rialb river valley during the medieval period. This old concept mountain refuge referred to the natural barrier of the intricate and difficult communications of the Rialb Valley. A concept that founds its relevance in two recent episodes of our collective history: during the Civil War (1936-1939), when the geographical context served as shelter for numerous fugitives from the Republican as a preliminary stage to move to Andorra and then to Franco Area; To the head of a time, but this time in reverse sense, the Barony served as a platform of operations of the split armed of the republicans (maquis) that coming from the south of France invaded the Pyrenees and the Pre-Pyrenees during the 1944 and the 1945 in order to combat the francoist dictatorship.
The primary sector is still one of those that drags more employment to the municipality. A territory with some irrigated planes and some arable sunny spots and ridges, with a level that ranges from 400m to the 800m of altitude of profitable land, suitable for many varied cultivation. Thus, agriculture is mostly rain-fed (barley, wheat, oats, grapes, olives and almonds) and irrigated near the Segre, in the Garden of Gualter (vegetables, corn and cherry). And in cattle, , pig is the main, but there are also sheep, goats, cattle and poultry farms. Furthermore, coniferous forests (pine) have always been a significant advantage for the wooden forest exploitation and, other, such as oak, juniper or almond tree to extract firewood. And, also, the fluvial exploitation to produce electricity in hydroelectric plants how the ones of Rialb-1 and Rialb-2, built alogn the gates of the marsh of Rialb, and for the production of river trouts farms in the Rialb.
The secondary sector is quite limited and this is geared towards subsectors such as the construction or food.
The area of services is basically the village of Ponts and to a lesser degree Oliana, who eke hamlets and homesteads that are scattered throughout the Barony of Rialb.
Tourism is the sector that is seen as the real source of opportunities for the people inside and outside the municipality. And that the fact to be as extensive in surface region and so little transformed by the hand of man, implies the landscape value to remain almost intact and, that aspects as valued like the research of peace and nature turn into a degree of attraction for the visitors. Various attractions (culture, art, nature, adventure sports, hunting …) have led to the promotion of rural tourism with the restoration of many old uninhabited homesteads and other buildings such as schools and old rectories to become rural accommodations.
Forests pines are potentially dominant, especially in central and northern area of the municipality. However, in the northwest and in small pockets near the Sant Marc range range there is an important mass of holm oak groves.
Regarding the deciduous emphasize the 9 ha of gall oak grove grove located in northwestern boundary of the term, in the Conca Range. Also important in a more localized level, in the Comiols Range, northwest of the term, an area of Mediterranean scrubland dominated for example by juniper, which is a habitat of interest because of their rarity within the territory where it is located.
Along the Rialb, and until the swamp, we find a continuum of riparian forest with a high degree of naturalness, characterised by the presence of willow groves and poplar groves. This habitat is also found on the banks of the Segre, on the southern edge of the town. Finally, mention the Rialb gorge and Buli Hole (Forat de Bulí), place in the municipality where we find the habitats of community interest. Calcareous rocks with thermophilic and chasmophytic vegetation or shaded of the Mediterranean regions, are in the Foradot Ravine; while calcicolous rocks with chasmophytic vegetation of the Pyrenean mountain are located in Buli Hole and the region of Rocablanca.
The area where the municipality is located is included in the Mesozoic and Tertiary Montsec and Tremp Basin area and then the western area of Pedraforca. It covers mainly the Tremp Paleogene basin and its Mesozoic surroundings. Which is a highly complex unit.
It contains limestones and conglomerates that are located preferably out of the north, where the Alpine Orogeny and subsequent river and karst erosion have led to the emergence of important geomorphological features of interest, including:
• Cliffs, particularly notable are the Benavent Basin, bordering northwest of the Barony, which houses a large population of birds of prey.
• Ravines and gorges, located around the axis formed by the river Rialb. The river and its tributaries run through this area of fitted and deep valleys, with high landscape and ecological value. Emphasizes, above all, the called Buli Hole.
In this northernmost area the land is complex and traditionally the communications have been difficult, which has determined to maintain a high degree of naturalness. However, in the south of the town materials are formed by detrital deposits corresponding to different geological periods, offering a much smoother and undulating terrain, in transition to the plain of Lleida. Here human occupation has always been much more intense without ever, however, be abundant, thus the degree of humanization of the land is higher.
The term consists about 240 inhabitants distributed among eleven villages scattered throughout the Rialb Valley; old parishes that were populating the peaks of these mountains; since the high medieval period; of fortifications, farmhouses, parish churches and chapels.
The cores are: Gualter, La Serra, La Torre, Politg, Pallerols, Vilaplana, Bellfort, Palau, El Puig, St. Cristòfol de la Donzell and St. Martí.
Festivities and traditions
The crowd of churches scattered throughout the Rialb and many built by their owners are a good example of the Christian faith of the people of this land.
Therefore, the municipality, has no lack of what we call folklore, which is the humanization of religion. Following the course of the year there are currently nine religious and popular festivals in the form of Mass and pilgrimage.
On the other hand, regarding the Monastery of Santa Maria de Gualter and in order to give continuity to the religious traditions, at the same time we ensure the conservation of the monastery, every year on the penultimate Saturday of July is held the Monastery of Sta. Maria de Gualter Cultural Meeting.
Festa del Ranxo, Gualter
Second last Sunday of April
Aplec de Sant Marc, Pallerols
Second Sunday of May
Roser de la Baronia de Rialb, Palau
Coinciding with the feast of the Ascension
Festa Major de Politg, Politg
First Sunday of June
Roser de la Cirera, Gualter
Second last Saturday in July
Monastery of Sta. Maria de Gualter Cultural Meeting.
Festa Major de Palau, Palau
Las Sunday of August
Festa Major de Bellfort, Bellfort
Third Saturday of September
Festa Major de Vilaplana, Vilaplana
First Sunday of October
Festa Major del Puig, El Puig
The Sunday closest to November 22th
Meeting for the celebration of the Saint. Josepmaria Escrivà, Pallerols