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Girona is a small big city. It is not very big in extension nor in number of inhabitants, but it is really charming and has a lot of places that
are worth a visit. If you are staying in Barcelona, it is an excellent option to spend a day or a weekend in Girona, to stroll through its Jewish Quarter, its Old Town and
the walls. It is wonderful to wander around, crossing the arches of small alleys which always hide some surprise,
such as a beautiful courtyard or an old stone house.
In mid-May, for nine days, there is a festival called Temps de Flors (Time of Flowers), in which the streets and main buildings
of the city are dressed in flowers, thanks to the work and dedication of local entities and associations. It is very nice if you can go on those dates,
although it is essential to get up early to avoid the crowds that can occur in the center.
What to See & Do
- Roman Walls
This wall was built in the first century BC, when the city of Gerunda was founded. Subsequently, in the third century, still under Roman rule, it was
reconstructed. Nowadays, there is still some part of the area known as "Força Vella", in the space that the primitive city occupied in the past.
- Cathedral and Cathedral Square
The cathedral stands in the heart of Força Vella, preceded by a wide staircase that leads to a small, lively square. Consecrated
to Saint Mary, it was built between the eleventh and eighteenth centuries. This is why different styles are combined in the construction, from the Romanesque style (cloister and tower of
Charlemagne) to the Baroque style (façade and staircase), as well as the Gothic style. Its most outstanding element is the nave, which constitutes the widest vaulted Gothic space
in the world (nearly 23 meters wide).
- Bishop's Palace
This 10th century building is located in the Apostles Square, near the upper part of the Cathedral.
Its main façade looks more like a medieval fortification than a palace itself. Currently, it is the headquarters of the Museum of Art of Girona.
- Casa Pastors
This seventeenth-century palace was built over the Roman walls and the overlying medieval fortification, which can still be seen inside. It currently houses various exhibitions.
- Call Jueu
The ancient Jewish quarter is one of the best preserved in the world and one of the most emblematic spaces in the city. Located in the Força Vella,
it is a delight to wander through its narrow, evocative alleys and courtyards, which keep the scent of medieval times.
- Museum of History of Girona
It is located in the building of the former convent of Saint Anthony. Some of the convent areas are still preserved, including the cemetery, the cloister and the cistern.
In the different rooms, you can take a journey through the history of the city, from Roman to contemporary times. It also offers different activities and temporary exhibitions.
It is not a large museum, and it is very pleasant to walk through its courtyard and the different rooms.
- Jewish History Museum
This museum has eleven rooms describing aspects of the daily life, culture and history of the Jewish communities in Catalonia and Girona specifically,
through both documentary and archaeological examples.
- Saint Felix Basilica
It was the first cathedral of the city, playing this role until the tenth century. Its slender bell tower (XIV-XVI centuries) is visible from different parts of the city.
In this temple, Romanesque elements are combined with a Gothic nave and a Baroque façade.
- Sant Pere de Galligants
Only the church and the cloister of this old monastery are visible today. This small and robust construction, from the 10th century, is one of the first examples of
Catalan Romanesque, with an austere but rich interior, which today houses a small museum.
- Saint Nicholas Chapel
Used as an exhibition hall and located next to the monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants, together they form one of the most remarkable Romanesque complexes in Catalonia.
- Arabic Baths
This Romanesque construction follows the model of the Roman baths, the Muslim baths and the Jewish mikva. The tour inside is highly recommended, to visit the different rooms
that formerly served to maintain good hygiene. In the first room there is a great stone fountain
in the centre. It is magnificent, with its arches, columns and capitals.
- Saint Dominic's Convent
This 13th century convent reigns over the Gothic church, dedicated to the Annunciation. The church has a single nave, characteristic of the Middle Ages,
while the interior and side chapels are adorned with Baroque vestiges of the eighteenth century.
- Sant Martí Sacosta Church and Stairways
Girona is a city with a great number of medieval spots. One of the most picturesque ones is the church of the Saint Martin's convent (17th century),
with its façade and the stairs leading up to it.
- University of Girona
Classes at the city's first university began in the 16th century, in what is now known as the "Eagles' building", built with the intention of housing the university headquarters.
- Old Mercy Convent
This building was built in the 13th century to house a congregation of Mercedarian friars. Along the history it has had different uses, such as a hospital or barracks,
until in 1985, after restoration, it became the Cultural Centre of La Mercè.
- Civil War Air Shelter
At the southeastern end of the medieval wall we find this shelter, which was used during the Spanish Civil War, as a protection against air strikes.
Today, you can visit the underground passageways that once served as a shelter.
WALLS AND AROUND
- Carolingian Wall
Since Roman times, the city has grown outside the city walls. Thus, between the 9th and 10th centuries, a new wall was built to protect the city at that time,
new towers were built and the existing walls were reformed.
- Medieval Wall
In the 14th century, the great growth of the city forced the construction of a new wall. On the one hand, the existing wall was reinforced, remaining inside the city.
On the other hand, a new one was built to protect the new neighborhoods that had emerged. It is highly recommended to take the walk along the wall. The access is
through one of the towers close to the Cathedral, near the eastern end of the fortified city. There are breahtaking views of the entire old town, especially at sunset.
- Saint Daniel's Monastery
This monastery is just ten minutes away from the city centre, but the walk to the outskirts, through a park, seems to take you into a remote village.
The monastery dates back to the 11th century. If you visit it on your own, you can only see the cloister. Guided tours facilitate the access to other areas,
but it is advisable to look for information about the schedules, since they are not too frequent.
AROUND ONYAR RIVER
- Onyar River Houses
The Onyar is the river that runs through Girona. On its shore, the colorful façades of some houses constitute one of the most emblematic images of the city.
- Rambla de la Llibertat
Built in the 13th century to hold the market, the porches with low ceilings and unequal arches stand out. This avenue runs parallel to the Onyar river,
and it's currently one of the city's neuralgic and commercial centres.
- Stone Bridge and Old Fisheries Pedestrian Bridge
These two bridges cross the Onyar river and they are excellent places to admire and take a picture of Onyar River Houses.
The Stone Bridge, dating back to the middle of the 19th century, replaced the old medieval bridge that joined both river banks.
The Old Fisheries Bridge is an iron red bridge, which owes its name to the fact that it used to be the place where the local fish market was located.
- Independence Square
This 19th century square is in a Neoclassical style. It is very wide and photogenic, with arches on the porches.