The city has a millenary past, with an important medieval and Baroque heritage, combined with modernist and industrial legacy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Manresa is also famous for Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who lived in the city for a while and was inspired by it to write the famous Spiritual Exercises and founding the Jesuit Company.
Manresa’s main economic sectors are the services: trade, health, education, administration, company consultancies (56%), followed by the industry, specially metal and car industry (36,5%), the building sector (5,5%) and finally the agriculture (2%).
As an established administrative and commercial centre, Manresa was able to ride out the effects of the recent economic crash and is now beginning to stabilise its economy. However, the old town continues to present many challenges, primarily due to the costs associated with maintaining the physical fabric. The migrant population is concentrated in the old town, where it makes up 20% of the population which has a total of 2,650 residents. Vacant houses are around 23% of the total houses in the old town. In turn, almost a quarter of the shops located in the Historic Centre are empty. As an attempt to reverse this figures, a comprehensive revitalisation strategy for the old town that began in the 1990s but due to financial constraints and lack of co-operation of property owners, improvements are incremental and react to the availability of external funding sources.
Nowadays, the municipality is pursuing a range of other strategic initiatives to improve its resilience, enhance the quality of life and open up new routes to prosperity. This includes strategies to make Manresa more attractive to tourism, like the initiative called Manresa 2022, which aims to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the transformative stay in Manresa of saint Ignatius of Loyola. It covers urban investments as well as cultural, art and gastronomic events, education and training programmes, retail trade promotion and sport events, and it is mainly focused in the Historic City Centre, since much of the physical Ignatian heritage is located in the old town.
Since 2018, in collaboration with L’Antic Association and through Historic Centre Commissioner, Manresa municipality started its participation in Urbact Re-grow city, a network of cities that share good practices to tackle against long term decline in medium towns through civil participation and volunteering.
Project is leaded by a group of local agents from Manresa’s Historic Centre. Members from the group are from different profiles and not necessarily from a formal association. From this round table, local group essentially proposes different actions to build ‘the best Historic Centre inhabitants deserve’. Guidance from URBACT project wills to set a NGO platform with active volunteering and small and specific actions development, in order to improve social cohesion in Manresa old town and make it more attractive to live, to work and to have leisure and cultural experiences.