The County Archive of the Alt Urgell catalogued a parchment with what would be one of the oldest testimonies of the “baixada de falles” in the Pyrenees, dated February 5, 1543, in which clear reference is made to the region of the Alt Urgell. The document in question, found by the historian Carles Gascón Chopo, is a large parchment, 145 x 70.5 cm, that contains a sentence delimiting the borders of La Seu d’Urgell, Alàs, Cerc and Torres d’Alàs.
“Baixada de falles” is an ancient tradition celebrated in various parts of the Pyrenees, almost always around the summer solstice. Interest in this tradition increased as a result of its recognition by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, on November 1, 2015. Although there were indications that this tradition had been celebrated in the past in the present county of Alt Urgell, there was no sufficiently explicit documentary evidence for it. The recent discovery presents new data that could determine that Alt Urgell has the earliest testimony of the celebration of these festivities.
In its text, as reported by RadioSeu, the parchment refers to the quarrels between the people from Alàs and Torres d’Alàs, around the Peces mountain range, where the Romanesque church of Santa Maria was built, at the time of deciding where each group should make their respective fires and celebrations. According to the document, those arguments resulted in injuries and even death.
Given the nature of the document in question, it does not provide a description of the activity, nor does it indicate on what dates it was celebrated; but it does make it clear that the tradition already had a deep sense of identity within the local community, to the extent that it had provoked a serious conflict between the two groups disputing the location of the celebration. Until now the oldest document preserved in the Alt Urgell County Archive dated from 1763.