Spring is already here (fortunately!) and if there is a city in Catalonia that knows how to enjoy spring, that city is Girona, a town with approximately 100,000 inhabitants located in the north east of Catalonia.
You may have heard about Girona as a filming location of Game of Thrones or as a starting point for a visit to the renowned Costa Brava. But I (Laura) was born in Girona and, before moving to Barcelona for my university studies, I had always lived in Arbúcies, a nice village found a 45-minute drive from Girona. Therefore, Girona was the city where I spent most of my childhood and teen years, but the more I travel abroad, the more I appreciate the charm of the historic city of Girona.
Girona can be easily reached from Barcelona by high speed train (a bit more than 30 minutes) departing from Barcelona-Sants station, and also by ordinary trains departing from several stations in Barcelona that might take between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the type of train and the number of stops during the route. By car you can get to the city from Barcelona in less than one hour and a half. Moreover, Girona has a small airport (called Girona-Costa Brava) with cheap flights from and to a good number of European cities. So check if there is any route available from your hometown and come to Girona soon!
As we were saying, every May and during some days the ancient streets of Girona are embellished with flowers to celebrate the spring in the festival called “Temps de Flors”. But Girona is worth visiting in every season. The reasons why we love Girona so much? See below!
- The “Pont Eiffel” or “Pont de les Peixateries Velles”
The popular name of this bridge, which was designed by the same engineer that built the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, means the “Bridge of Old Fish Shops”. And the reason is that for many centuries this was the only place in the city where people could buy fish. It was built in 1877 and the last restoration works were done in 2008. It is one of the most romantic hotspots of the city.
- “Les cases de l’Onyar” (the Onyar houses)
This is maybe the most filmed scenery of the city. The colourful houses that hang over the Onyar river move you to a fairy tale where princes and princesses are welcomed to a flowered and always-spring city.
- “Plaça de la Independència” (Independence Square)
This is a neoclassic square, typical from mid XIX century, located in the west bank of the Onyar river. Under the porches you can find multiple bars and restaurants and it is a good place for young people to have dinner or just a beer. The energy in this square is constant and it is always full of activity. We suggest having dinner in the König restaurant –a must among the locals. But be aware that there is always a long queue outside the restaurant. Come before 9pm if you want to find a table.
The square is named by reference to the Spanish Independence War, which took place between 1808 and 1814 within the framework of the Napoleonic Wars.
This Cathedral is seen from all over the valley. It is the queen of the skyline of Girona. Once you reach the base of the stairs to the Cathedral you feel like an insignificant being. It has the widest gothic nave in the world (22.98 m), and considering all architecture styles it has the second widest nave, only behind Saint Peter Basilica in the Vatican City. Go inside and think about those small medieval people building such an enormous building with wood and iron. It is just incredible. From here you can also visit the roman walls of Gerunda, the ancient roman city.
- “Barri Vell” (the Old Quarter)
Get lost in the Old Quarter. Pass through medieval arches, go into traditional shops, walk and open your eyes to feel the history behind each of the stones that you are stepping on. This is the place to have a coffee or buy nice souvenirs. The Old Quarter is connected to the modern city center by the “Rambla de la Llibertat” (Freedom Avenue), which commences on the “Pont de Pedra” (Stone Bridge) and follows the course of the Onyar river on the east bank.
- The Jewish past of Girona
One of the hotspots of Girona is its Jewish Quarter (called in Catalan “Call Jueu”). In the Jewish Quarter of Girona lived one of the most important Jewish communities in the Western world. The main street of the quarter is the “carrer de la Força”, where Jewish families established in the XII century. The Jewish community of Girona grew and they say that approximately 800 Jewish coexisted in the city together with the Christians. The Museum of Jewish History (“Museu d’Història dels Jueus”) preserves the Jewish past of Girona and is worth a visit.
One famous “sardana”, a song for the typical Catalan circle dance with the same name, says that Girona makes everyone fall in love with it. So please, if you come to Catalonia, don’t forget to visit Girona to find out why the song is absolutely right.