Discovering the gorgeous town of Girona, Costa Brava – Part 2.
Girona is one of the most captivating destinations in Costa Brava, Spain. The city has a long and fascinating history that dates back to Roman times. Its historical center, the Barri Vell, is incredibly well-preserved and offers a glimpse into the city’s medieval past.
What to see in Girona
We started exploring the city with the previous blog post “Discovering the gorgeous city of Girona, Costa Brava. Part 1.”. Let’s go on!
The Onyar River Houses
The river Onyar itself is a prominent feature of Girona. It flows through the heart of the city, dividing it into two distinct parts. The picturesque riverside houses, with their vibrant colors, are a well-known and iconic sight in Girona. These colorful facades reflect in the tranquil waters of the Onyar River, creating a charming and postcard-worthy scene.
Numerous bridges, such as the iconic Pont de les Peixateries Velles (Bridge of the Old Fish Market), connect the different parts of the city and provide stunning views of the river and its surroundings.
The Jewish Quarter (El Call)
The Jewish Quarter is a captivating neighborhood nestled within the historic center of Girona. It holds a significant place in the city’s history and stands as one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe.
The Jewish presence in Girona dates back to the 9th century, and the community flourished for centuries, contributing to the cultural and economic fabric of the city.
El Call shows narrow, winding streets, picturesque squares, and well-preserved medieval architecture. The neighborhood’s layout has remained remarkably intact over the centuries, and the labyrinthine streets offer an enchanting journey through time.
One of the prominent landmarks in El Call is the Bonastruc ça Porta Center, a Jewish history and culture museum. Housed in a former synagogue, the museum provides fascinating insights into the daily life, traditions, and historical significance of Girona’s Jewish community.
As you wander through El Call, you’ll encounter architectural highlights that reflect the medieval Jewish presence. The houses often feature stone door frames and Hebrew inscriptions. One notable example is the Cúndaro House, which showcases these characteristic elements.
The Jewish Quarter is also home to the Nahmanides Institute for Jewish Studies and the Girona Jewish History Museum
The Arab Baths (Banys Àrabs)
A relic of the Moorish presence in Girona, the Arab Baths are well-preserved 12th-century baths that offer a glimpse into the bathing rituals of the time.
They are are a remarkable example of Romanesque architecture with Islamic design elements.
The Arab Baths consist of several chambers and pools arranged around a central courtyard. These baths served as a place for relaxation, hygiene, and socializing during the medieval period.
Upon entering the Arab Baths, visitors see the central courtyard, a tranquil space with arches and columns. The courtyard served as a gathering area and a transition point between the different sections of the baths.
One of the main features of the Arab Baths is the frigidarium, or cold-water room. This chamber contains a pool of cold water, where visitors would begin their bathing ritual. From there, they would move on to the tepidarium, a warm-water room designed to promote relaxation and stimulate circulation. The caldarium, or hot-water room, was heated by an ingenious hypocaust system, offering visitors a steamy and invigorating bathing experience.
The Arab Baths also include changing rooms and other smaller chambers that were part of the bathing complex.
While the original purpose of the Arab Baths was primarily for bathing, today they serve as a unique historical attraction and a testament to Girona’s multicultural past. Visitors can explore the different chambers, admire the architectural details, and imagine the vibrant atmosphere that once filled these spaces.
The Sant Pere de Galligants Monastery
The construction of Sant Pere de Galligants Monastery in Girona began in the 12th century and ended in the 13th century. Originally, it was a Benedictine monastery dedicated to Saint Peter. The name “Galligants” comes from the nearby river, which old name was Galligans.
The architectural style of the monastery is predominantly Romanesque, with sturdy stone walls, rounded arches, and simple yet elegant decorative elements.
The exterior of the monastery showcases beautiful sculptural details and intricate carvings, which are indicative of the skilled craftsmanship of the time.
One of the most notable features of the Sant Pere de Galligants Monastery is its graceful bell tower. Standing tall and slender, the tower shows decorative elements and a pointed spire.
Inside the monastery, visitors can explore various spaces that were integral to the monastic life. The cloister, with its graceful arcades and serene atmosphere, is particularly noteworthy. With its intricate capitals depicting biblical and mythological scenes, it provides a tranquil space for contemplation.
The Sant Pere de Galligants Monastery is also home to the Archaeological Museum of Catalonia – Girona, which showcases a collection of archaeological artifacts that trace the history of the region, ranging from prehistoric times to the medieval period.