Iberian and Roman Gerunda
One of the yearly commonly weekend trips to Barcelona that we tend to do around October – November, but finally this time and after being so many times in Barcelona we though it was long due the visit to the many other cities and places nearby. To start this weekend, Girona. As for the weekend after this that we will return again to Barcelona, it will be Tarragona the main sight, and so until the next year already when we will book further flights to Barcelona to most likely keep touring around the beautiful region of Catalonia with the countless sights and places to visit on offer.
Girona lies to the north of Barcelona 100 kilometres and it is the last province within Spain, south of the Pyrenees mountain range, before the direct border with France being Perpignan the first large city in France at only 35 kilometres farther north. Conquered by the Moors and reconquered from them saw in turns between the 7th and 10th centuries becoming afterwards one of the most important Jews centres in Europe, finally expelled in 1492. Its legacy can be still seen today as one of the major tourist attractions in the city, the Jewish ghetto, the best preserved in Europe.
The city is filled with charm and history everywhere, with numerous important buildings and monuments of special mention the beautiful examples of Catalan Gothic architecture making it a great tourist destination. Most tourists who visit the city are day-trippers, either from Barcelona or from elsewhere along the coastal resorts, or even from the southern region of France like Perpignan.
A day to visit the city is good enough time to enjoy all the sights at slow peace. Planning any longer and you will end up with nothing else to do the following day unless you are heading to the Mediterranean coast at just few kilometres east.
For more information about Girona check the Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. The currency of Spain is the Euro. Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Girona:
- Fortifications Originally dating back to the Roman times and enlarged and strengthened during the 14th century they lost much of their original defensive value from the 16th century ongoing. Nowadays party reconstructed on the sections that were missing while all the rest completely restored include the walls and watchtowers that are accessible to walk around offering great views of the city inside.
- Cathedral Hosts the title of having the widest Gothic nave in the world. Built on the grounds of a primitive church that was transformed to a mosque after the Islamic conquest, the current edifice was consecrated in 1038 yet its exterior has changed ever since. Of 11th century Romanesque style to 13th century Catalan Gothic and a Baroque facade started in 1606, finished in 1961.
- Collegiate Church of Sant Feliu Right by one of the banks of the River Onyar, dates to the 14th century in Catalan Gothic style with an 18th century façade.
- Sant Pere de Galligants Monastery One of the oldest structures in the city, of Romanesque style built in 992. The church was added in 1130. Nowadays the complex is home to the Archaeological Museum of Catalonia.
- Arab Baths Remarkably preserved, dating from 1194 within a Romanesque building. Located in Carrer de Ferran el Catòlic.
- Independence Square Very characteristic typical Spanish square with neoclassical buildings of the same design and symmetrical form with arcaded gallery on street level.
- Jewish Quarter One of the oldest and best preserved in Europe, yet small in size.
- Rambla de la Libertad The Freedom Boulevard as it translates in English was planned in 1869 starting at the Puente de Piedra (Stone Bridge) and running parallel to the Onyar River.
- Cases de l’Onyar This is perhaps the most characteristic image of the city. The many houses along the River Onyar, all painted in different colours, palette created by Enric Ansesa, James J. Faixó and the architects Fuses and J. Viader. No one can equal the image of the city from the river and its many bridge. Notorious bridges for great views:
-Pont Sant Agustí Offering nice views of the river and buildings.
-Pont dels Desitjos The Bridge of wishes.
-Pont de Ferro Also known as the Eiffel Bridge as this was the company that built it.
-Stone Bridge Where the Rambla Boulevard begins.
- Modernist architecture Like everywhere else in Catalonia, the entire region is world famous for this kind of architectural style. Of course not comparable to the great masterpieces of Barcelona, but still worth to see. Among the architects, Rafael Masó i Valentí is with difference the best example in Girona.
-La Farinera Teixidor This large modernist building was designed by architect Rafael Masó i Valentí in 1910 and it’s the largest of this architectural style in the city. Envisioned by industrialist Alfonso Weaver Maso as his flour mill, offices and home. Nowadays the headquarters of the newspaper El Punt. Located in Carrer Santa Eugènia 42.
-Casa Batlle One of the first works of Rafael Masó it is in fact a reform of an existing house. The result is clearly influence by the Viennese Secession of the era. Located in Carrer Fontanilles 2.
-Pharmacy Maso Puig Also designed by modernist architect Rafael Masó i Valentí is included in the catalogue of Architectural Heritage of Catalonia. Located in Carrer de l’Argenteria 29.
-Casa Maso The same architect Rafael Masó i Valentí reformed his birthplace house, nowadays the museum about his life and work. Located on Carrer Ballesteries 29.
-Casa Salieti The house dates back to the 14th century and was reformed by Rafael Masó in 1911. Its interior patio and staircase are truly pieces of art. Located in Carrer Ciutadans 8.
-Casa Cots One of the last creations by Rafael Masó in Girona, from 1927, it is noteworthy the verticality. Located in Carrer Santa Clara 53.
The city is served by the Girona-Costa Brava International Airport, 10 kilometres south of the centre. Frequent buses in coincidence with arrivals/departure leave to/from the city centre taking around 15 minutes. It is 1 hours by bus to Barcelona North Bus Station. The majority of flights are served by Ryanair across many European destinations, and together with the not so far Barcelona International Airport it makes extremely easy to arrive to the city from countless international destinations.
Girona is well linked by rail on the Mediterranean corridor making it very easy, fast and comfortable reaching the city from cities as south as Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, or from France as Perpignan, Marseille or Montpellier. Train-Hotels do also call in Girona en-route to Zurich and Milan. And of course, easy and frequently linked to Madrid. This same applies if coming by long distance buses across Spain or southern France.
From nearby Barcelona or the other capitals of province that form Catalonia: Lleida and Tarragona is quite straightforward with the many frequent buses and trains. It is only 38 minutes from Barcelona Sants train station.
Within the city and due to its urbanism and not so large size the best way to move is on foot. This is the only way to explore all the sights, and the old city centre is very compact, therefore there is no need for taking any public transportation, which in any case is formed of buses only.
Considering it is a very touristy place, majority of people do not stay overnight but instead are day-trippers from Barcelona or the coastal resorts. In our case we did not stay overnight in the city either, as we came from Barcelona where we stayed at our friend’s. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms, Ebookers or TUI.
There is however, a great choice of hotels and anytime during low season months it should not be difficult to find a good deal. Should you wish to check some of the hotels we’ve been in the past in Barcelona have a look at the travel guide for the city here.