Girona is one monument after another. A city full of surprises that leaves nobody indifferent. History and modernity, tradition and avant-garde exist side by side. At the crossroads between the sea and the mountains, it is the capital city of both the Costa Brava and the eastern Pyrenees.
The old town, full of unique architecture and steeped in history, is living proof of the various stages of civilization that have passed through it.
The most glittering jewel in the crown is Santa Maria cathedral (XIVth to XVIIIth century), a mixture of styles ranging from Romanesque (cloister and Charlemagne tower) to the Baroque façade or the Gothic central nave, the widest vaulted Gothic interior in the world at 23 metres. One of the traditions on your way in is to count the steps which bring you up to the front door.
The other slender bell tower which stands out in Girona’s skyline is the basilica of Sant Feliu, which was originally the cathedral until the Xth century. It is also a great mixture of styles. The grave of the patron saint of Girona, Saint Narcís, can be found inside. According to the legend, during a French invasion in the XIIIth century thousands of flies swarmed out of his grave and bit the enemy soldiers and their horses, forcing them to flee Girona or die. This explains why flies appear in so many places and traditions in the city.
Just as charming as these two monuments are the narrow streets of the Jewish quarter. This is a maze of narrow lanes and courtyards that keep the aura of medieval times. It is one of the world’s best preserved Jewish quarters and clear proof of the importance of this culture in the city. In the middle of all these narrow streets, the river Onyar provides a breath of fresh air as it winds its way through the monuments in the centre of the city. Lined along its banks, the dozens of brightly coloured terraced houses are one of the most photographed views of Girona.
Amidst the houses, a red iron bridge crosses the river. It was designed by the team of Gustave Eiffel, the architect famous for the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Girona cannot be understood without its history, but even so in the course of time it has also perfectly blended modernity and the avant-garde, turning Girona into an open-air museum. It is a small city, on a human scale, without crowds. There is no room for stress and haste. Girona must be explored on foot, peacefully and with your eyes wide open to take in all the details.
Gastronomy is another bastion of the city. The tip of the iceberg is El Celler de Can Roca, voted best restaurant in the world in 2013. While El Celler is the undisputed leader, a host of other restaurants offer quality products grown locally, always with a touch of elegance and modernity.
A separate paragraph must be dedicated to commerce. The streets parallel to the river Onyar are home to many high-quality shops, ranging from the most traditional to the latest trends and prestigious international brands.
Girona is a timeless, restless and curious city, attractive at any time of year and with a very lively cultural scene. An essential stop between the sea and the mountains.
For many years the city was a great unknown, but now it has finally come out of its shell and wants to show its beauty – monuments, culture and contemporary – openly and without complexes.
1. Cathedral and the houses
on the river Onyar (Girona).
2. Santa Maria Cathedral (Girona).
3. The Museum of Jewish History
(Girona). Òscar Vall. Arxiu Imatges PTCBG.
4. “Peixateries Velles” bridge (Girona).
5. Girona wall (Girona).
6. “Jardins dels Alemanys” & Basílica of Sant Feliu (Girona).
7. The Jewish Quarter or Call (Girona). Òscar Vall. Arxiu Imatges PTCBG.