At only few metres from Sant Pere’s monastery, it was founded by the monastery itself during the XIIth century as a hospital for poor people. The building, constructed in the typical style of that period, consists on one long hall (picture 3). Decoration is almost nonexistent here, with only few concessions on the narrow main façade: again the capitals contain weird characters in funny stands (picture 1). No doubt that sculptors had a terrible imagination! Maybe Sant Pere's sculptor and Sant Julià's were the same person because the style is very similar and the two buildings are separated only few metres.
The hospital is today used by the village as exhibition /fair centre. When we visited it there was a kind of bio fair.
Beautiful! This is the kind of architecture that I prefer: pure Romanesque style, simple lines and light and stone being almost the only decoration inside. Sant Pere is a medieval benedictine monastery founded in 977 by Count Miró of Besalú. The current church, the only part of the big ensemble that survived (picture 1), is from the XIIth century. The structure consists in three barrel-vaulted naves divided by cross shaped pillars and a transept (picture 2). The church ends with a single apse with an original ambulatory (picture 3) .
When we arrived the monastery was also closed but as there were some people trying to watch inside from the glass-door the guardian, who was not far, opened it for us. Apart from the architecture I appreciated very much this Christ on the cross in a corner (picture 4) and again the stonework, on the main façade, with fantastic creatures. I found very funny this scene (picture 5) with a kind of man-triton (?) which is dying laughing while it is smashed by a kind of lion.
That day it was me, well my shadow, who marked the hour on that funny sundial! It is situated on the floor, in the market square just in front of Sant Pere monastery.
By the way it was almost noon :-)
This is a nice example of medieval civil architecture in Besalú. It was built during the XIIIth century. We know that during the XIVth century it belonged to a Jewish family, the Astruc family. You still can see the mezuzah (a kind of parchment containing Jewish texts) hole on the entrance door, used to consecrate the homes. Later Bernat Cavaller, established his residence here. He was the governor of the county, representing the king. That’s why this house took its current name of Curia Reial.
When I visited Besalú this house was closed and I could only see a massive façade in Gothic style, very simple and with few holes (picture 1). I guess that the interesting part of this house is inside, with a beautiful Gothic courtyard and external staircase leading to the main rooms.
A must for any bridge lover, this medieval bridge is the jewel of the village and also its symbol. Its origin is unknown but we already have some news about it by the year 1075. The main structure should be from that period. During its long life it has been modified several times to protect the village from floods and enemy attacks. The defence towers (picture 2) for example are from the XIVth century. I read somewhere that it has this strange non linear shape (pictures 1and 3) to adapt itself to the river currents. It has some sense to me. Cross the main gate, go down by the river banks . . . any point shows you a different and beautiful perspective of the bridge. The view of Besalú from the other side of Fluvià river is very beautiful.
An important Jewish community lived in Besalú since the IXth century until 1436 and left interesting constructions like the synagogue and the miqvé (Jewish baths). Few things remain from the Jewish quarter where the old miqvé (Jewish bath) is the highlight, being the first and only miqvé found in Spain and the third (to ten) in Europe. At the beginning the relationship between Christians and Jewish was good and they lived together.
The Jewish quarter (picture 1) only appeared at the beginning of the XVth century in an area marked on one side by the bridge and the Fluvià river and in the other side by the bread ovens and the slope leading down to the river.
In 1415 the authorities of Besalú began to close down the Jewish quarter. Windows and doors were boarded up and all the streets were blocked up except the Jewish Gate, in the village wall, which remained opened. After 20 years of persecution not a single Jewish survived. Other things that you still can see are some narrow streets, a public oven and some parts of the old wall.
Sant Vicenç shows up to us at the end of a narrow street (picture 1).It is the parish church of the village. First documented in the Xth century, it is a Romanesque church (XIIth century) with only few gothic elements, like the rose window. The bell tower is from the XVIIIth century .
When we visited Besalú the church was closed but you still can see it from the main door, through a glass (picture 2). The plan is very simple with a main barrel-vaulted nave + 2 side naves, all three finished with apses. The side naves are so narrow that at the end it seems an only space cut only by four huge pillars. Decoration is simple but beautiful. Don’t miss the east façade decoration, especially the capitals (picture 3).
A visit of Besalú is like a travel into the time, a village of narrow streets (pictures 1-2) and stone houses decorated with colorful flowers (picture 3). Still today stones talk and they tell us about its inhabitants, their everyday life and beliefs. Take your time and enjoy not only its rich historical heritage but also its hidden corners and stone decoration. If that day there is a market, don’t hesitate to mix you with the locals. Some local products (excellent cold meats, sausages or liquors) can be a perfect souvenir of your visit.
It is the main square of the village. Narrow streets plus porticoed medieval houses (picture 1) make here a very beautiful ensemble: what a pity that it is always full of cars! It was very difficult to avoid them for the pictures. Just in front of the town hall there is a small museum about the village. Nothing special but, as it is free and you are on holidays with plenty of time, do a short visit to see some old tools and pictures which tell us about Besalú’s local traditions and some archaeological pieces found in the nearby excavations. You can even buy some traditional products (picture 2), like the local Ratafia.
There was an active Jewish community in Besalu. Only a few ruins (of the synagogue) are left. Quite recently also a mikve (ritual bath) was found. After hard limitations of the living space and the activities of the Jews the Jews left the town. This coincided with a stagnation of the town which is an important reason for the fact that Besalu has kept its medieval appearance.
The bridge dominates Besalú. It is perfectly restored (it was heavily damaged under the Spanish Civil War). It is a very pleasant walk across the bridge but it is also impressive to walk alog the river coming from the Centre of the town.
The local architecture is lovely and easy to wander around its cobbled, traffic free streets on foot. You don't have far to walk to see the river and the ancient bridge.
The weather was sunny, even in November.
The only known surviving jewish ritual bath, known as a miqve, was discovered in 1964 when owners of the land attempted to dig a well and realised they had gone through some structure which on investigation they had gone through the roof of the miqve.
located in the center of the beautiful medieval village of besalu is the romanesgue church of sant pere. sant pere is the sole remnant of a 948AD benedictine monastery that was demolished in 1835. nearby is a mikvah, (jewish bath) that was built in 1264. it is one of three baths of that period that survive in europe.
The both Romanic churches St. Peter and St. Vincent are locked if there are no services and can only be visited on guided tours but you can always look at the interior of the churches through a window in the door and if you drop one Euro into a slot the interior will be illuminated for 3 minutes.