Discovering the gorgeous town of Girona, Costa Brava – Part 1
Costa Brava is the picturesque coastline of northeastern Spain, a region renowned for its gorgeous seaside towns, like Lloret del Mar, and wonderful beaches. But it is also home to a rich cultural heritage. Among the many gems that adorn this coastal paradise, the city of Girona stands out as a captivating destination that effortlessly combines history, architecture, and natural wonders.
With a fascinating past dating back to Roman times and a collection of impressive landmarks, Girona offers visitors a truly enchanting experience. Let’s delve into the history of the city and explore some of its main tourist attractions that make it a must-visit destination.
Brief History of Girona
The roots of Girona can be traced back over 2,000 years, making it one of Spain’s oldest settlements. The city has witnessed the rise and fall of various civilizations, leaving behind a tapestry of historical and architectural treasures. From the Romans to the Visigoths, Moors, and finally, the Catalans, each era has contributed to the city’s unique character.
During the Roman period, Girona, then known as Gerunda, thrived as an important strategic outpost. The remnants of the Roman walls that once surrounded the city still stand tall today, bearing witness to its ancient past.
Over the centuries, Girona witnessed numerous conflicts and sieges, including the devastating Carthaginian invasion and the Arab conquest. These events shaped the city’s fortifications, including the imposing Girona Cathedral, which stands as a testament to the city’s resilience.
What to see in Girona
Girona is full of beautiful things to see. If you are planning a trip here are what we think are the must-sees.
Girona Cathedral (Catedral de Girona)
The Cathedral of Santa Maria, is the main landmark of the city.
It dominates the Girona skyline and offers a breathtaking display of architectural grandeur. The cathedral’s history spans several centuries. Indeed, the construction began in the 11th century, and it underwent various expansions and renovations over the years. As a result, it showcases a combination of architectural styles, primarily Gothic and Romanesque, with influences from other periods as well.
The imposing façade features intricate details, including ornate stone carvings and sculptures. The main entrance, known as the Portal of the Apostles, welcomes visitors with its beautiful arches and sculptural decorations.
One of the most distinctive features of the Cathedral of Girona is its impressive bell tower. Standing at a height of approximately 75 meters (246 feet), it offers stunning panoramic views of the city. People call it the “Lioness of Girona” (El León de Girona).
Inside the cathedral, visitors find a treasure trove of artistic and religious wonders. The spacious interior houses a nave with soaring Gothic arches, chapels adorned with intricate altarpieces, and beautiful stained glass windows that illuminate the space with a kaleidoscope of colors.
One of the most notable features inside the cathedral is the Tapestry of Creation (Tapís de la Creació). This medieval masterpiece, created between the 11th and 12th centuries, depicts biblical scenes in vibrant colors and intricate embroidery. It is considered one of the most valuable textile works of its kind.
The Cathedral also houses a museum (Museu de la Catedral), where visitors can explore a collection of religious art and artifacts, including sculptures, paintings, and religious vestments.
The City Walls
Taking a walk along Girona’s ancient city walls is like stepping back in time. The majority of the existing walls dates back to the medieval period and are still well-preserved fortifications.
The Girona city walls stretch for approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) and encircle the old town, also known as the Barri Vell. They consist of sturdy stone and mortar constructions, fortified with towers, bastions, and gates strategically positioned along the perimeter. Walking along the city walls provides a fascinating journey through time and offers panoramic views of Girona and its surroundings.
The walls are accessible from various points. Some notable entrances are Portal de Sobreportes, Portal de Sant Domènec, and Portal de la Barca. Each gateway bears unique architectural features and serves as a portal to Girona’s historic center.
One of the most popular sections of the city walls is the Passeig de la Muralla. This is a scenic pathway that runs along the top of the fortifications. This elevated promenade allows visitors to appreciate breathtaking vistas of Girona’s rooftops, the surrounding countryside, and the nearby mountains.
As you explore the city walls, you’ll encounter several watchtowers that once served as strategic observation points. The Torre Gironella, Torre del General Peralta, and Torre de Sant Domènec are among the notable towers that offer impressive views and insights into Girona’s defensive system.
Keep exploring the city, read “Discovering the gorgeous town of Girona, Costa Brava. Part 2“