Barcelona is Catalonia’s largest and most well-known metropolis and I’ve loved exploring it prior to now. This time I decide up a automotive from the airport, bypass the centre, and head north on the freeway. I’m tempted by the turnoffs to the Costa Brava and resorts like Tossa de Mar however my first cease goes to be one other metropolis of tradition.
The Romans arrived in Girona within the first century AD and constructed a fort referred to as Gerunda, on the street operating from the Rome to southern Spain. Later, Visigoths, Moors and Charlemagne all left their mark. The outdated city occupies the steep hill above the River Onyar with later growth sprawling throughout the plain on the opposite facet.
A row of picturesque homes strains the river painted in distinctive pastel shades and the view from any of the bridges is dominated by the cathedral, initially constructed by the Moors as a mosque and approached by a flight of 86 steps. The medieval quarter is all cobbled streets, shady squares and balconied homes.
It’s price testing the Arab Baths, a few of the finest preserved in Spain, with a number of rooms every with its personal pool. There’s the chilly water frigidarium, with columns supporting a central dome, the hotter tepidarium and the steam caldarium, warmed by sizzling flames beneath. There was additionally as soon as a big Jewish presence, a centre of studying for over 500 years, documented within the close by Museum of Jewish Historical past.
The Romans constructed the primary metropolis partitions they have been prolonged and rebuilt beneath the reign of Peter III the Ceremonious within the second half of the 14th century. You’ll be able to stroll their size, climbing up lookout towers for panoramic views of Girona and the encircling countryside. The scholar inhabitants helps a full of life evening life and, onthe reverse facet of the river, you’ll discover vibrant eating places and bars.
Round 40 minutes’ drive north is the city of Besalú whose most placing function is its medieval bridge spanning the Fluvià river in seven arches and two towers. At its midpoint is the gatehouse the place tolls have been collected, the key supply of its wealth.
The streets, as you enter the city, have been as soon as the Jewish quarter and the surviving Miqvé, purification baths, date from the 12th century. The quirky Micromundi Museum of Miniatures on the primary sq. has a choice of store interiors diminished to 12th scale however to see the Eiffel tower perching on a poppy seed, you’ll want a magnifying glass.
Driving east to the coast, I cease on the medieval walled village of Peratallada. Its slender streets and stone homes are completely preserved and the citadel dates from 1065. It’s now a lodge and there are different locations that hire rooms plus a choice of cafes, eating places and bars. When the crowds have left, it looks like a abandoned film set – it’s no shock that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was filmed right here.
Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell
This part of the Costa Brava is dwelling to a cluster of fishing villages and, though the fishing has lengthy gone, they nonetheless retain a lot of their unique character, unspoilt by inappropriate growth. Llafranc is my first port of name and, after dumping my baggage within the seafront entrance lodge, I head throughout the sandy seaside for a fast dip.
On the headland above the ocean is the archaeological web site of Sant Sebastià de la Guarda, subsequent to the 19th century lighthouse. Indigenous Iberians lived right here between the sixth and 1st centuries BC and you can also make out traces of round huts and a furnace. They traded with the traditional Greeks however, sadly the arrival of the Romans spelt their demise. The 15th century watchtower, constructed to warn of pirate assaults, has a museum coping with the historical past of the area and naturally has beautiful sea views.
A devoted seafront path runs the size of this coast, and a twenty minute stroll over the cliffs brings me to the engaging village of Calella de Palafrugell. The vacationer workplace is situated within the Sa Perola constructing, the place the fishermen as soon as dyed their nets and there’s additionally a small museum right here. There are nonetheless boats on the seaside however most of them belong to weekenders from Barcelona. Traditions are nonetheless saved alive, nevertheless, and each July you’ll be able to nonetheless hear their conventional songs on the Cantada d’havaneres competition.
Following the coastal path additional results in the Botanical Gardens of Cap Roig, twenty acres of cactus, shrubs and Mediterranean forest. In 1927, white Russian émigré Nicolai Woevodsky and his English aristocrat spouse, Dorothy Webster, settled right here on land purchased from bankrupt winery house owners. They crammed it with plant species from all around the world and items of sculpture.
Additionally they started constructing their very own citadel, however funds received the higher of them and the banks took over within the 1960’s. They managed to complete it and lived right here till they died and are buried within the grounds. The magnificent setting is the venue for a grand summer season music competition with main acts like Sting and Bob Dylan on the invoice, in addition to native artists.
A few miles inland is Palafrugell, a reasonably city with a full of life Sunday market. You’ll discover a variety of native merchandise right here, together with handicrafts made out of cork. The city was as soon as certainly one of largest producers in Spain however the business has virtually disappeared. A part of the Can Mario cork manufacturing facility has been became an interesting Cork Museum, a requiem for the individuals who labored right here.
One other part has been taken over by the Fundació Vila Casas from Barcelona. It’s dwelling to round 220 works of up to date sculpture by a variety of artists born or residing in Catalonia. Momentary exhibitions are additionally held yearly. The manufacturing facility’s former water tower, a marvel of ornamental ironwork, has spectacular views over the city.
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Catalonia and Costa Brava have details about the area
Girona has details about the town.
Go to Palafrugell has details about the city and environment.
Resort Ciutat de Girona makes a cushty base within the new city.
Probocador, simply reverse serves good native delicacies.
Restaurant Oliveras has a wonderful lunchtime buffet.
Resort Terramar makes base in Llafranc and has sea views.
Resort Llevant subsequent door additionally has rooms and has wonderful meals.
Resort Sant Roc, in Calella de Palafrugell, serves dinner with wonderful views from its terrace and has occasional stay music.
The Centre Fraternal de Palafrugell serves worth lunch within the centre of city.
Ryanair flies direct to Girona however solely from April to October.
EasyJet flies to Barcelona direct from London Gatwick.