We had a day trip to Girona which lies sixty one miles north of its big brother city of Barcelona. Unlike its nieghbour this city is small, very walkable and quiet. If you find yourself in either Barcelona or in my case, on this occassion, the Costa Brava and have a day or two to spare check out the charms of Girona.
Fondest memory: I did find it a bit strange that the budget airlines will fly you into Girona when your accommodation will be in Barcelona and vice versa. I liked both cities for different reasons but loved the local flavour, quietness and above all the ability to really relax with no worries on personal safety.
Favorite thing: Visit the Cathedral… yes, there are many in western Europe, and yes once seen one, you basically have a pretty good idea of what to expect, but still it is worth it. At first glance it looks gothic, and the feeling that provokes when inside, certainly comes from a gothic cathedral – huge, in all its grandness making the “common human being” feel small. However, it also has baroque elements, on the outside. Nice combination.
Favorite thing: I was always amazed at what was around in Girona. The Barri Vell has so much just waiting to be discovered and explored. I thought that was great, and especially with not as many tourists around it made it easy to walk throught the streets and contemplate who or what was going on in some of those very same spots.
Although I didn’t have the time to visit all the museums in Girona there are 5 really interesting ones. The ticket fee is low anyway but have in mind if you pay the full price at the first one you can visit the other 4 with 50% discount.
1)City History Museum
It’s housed on a building from the 18th century and here you can see the history of Girona from the Roman era to the medieval period and then till modern times.
The entrance fee is 3 euro. It’s open daily 10.00-14.00, 17.00-19.00 (Sundays 10.00-14.00). closed on Mondays. Address:Carrer de la Forca 27
2)Archeological Museum of Catalunya
It’s housed on Sant Pere de Galligants church, check the romansque building anyway and inside you will find roman sculptures and other prehistorical exhibits.
It’s open daily 10.00-14.00, 16.00-19.00 (Sundays 10.00-14.00). closed on Mondays.
If you like cinema you will have great time at this place, not in the Old Town but very close. You can spend hours with movies, clips and articles about old and new films. I was surprised about the visual exables from the medieval era (yes, there was life before Buster Keaton). Even their site is great.
The entrance fee is 4 euro. It’s open Tuesday-friday 10.00-18.00, Saturday 10.00-20.00, Sunday 11.00-15.00. closed on Mondays. Address:Carrer Sequia 1
4)Museum of History of the Jews
A great museum to learn the history of Jews in Catalunya during the medieval era till the end of 15th century. The gravestones are impressive.
The entrance fee is 2 euro. It’s open daily 10.00-20.00 (Sunday till 15.00) Address:carrer de la Forca 8-10
I didn’t visit this one but I’ve read it has a nice collection of Romanesque and gothic art. Address: Palau Apiscopal-Puhada de la Catedral 12
this is just a part of the gardens in the old part of Girona… There are steps that take you there from the Wall...
On your walk, you will actually get to see the so-called Gardens of John Lennon - no idea what the story is about... In any case another beautiful spot in this town.
Favorite thing: I also love all the alleyways in the historic city. There are so many of them sometimes it is hard to remember which ones you were on already. They all zig zag around and are very unique. I am surprised and glad that they still exist this way after so long.
Favorite thing: I really love interesting buildings and the way that some of them just "fit" in city scenes. Girona is no different. I felt that I was constantly gasping and taking my camera out to document all that I was seeing. The apartments on the River Onyar are great to look at and are quite unique. They are unlike anything else I have seen before and I am sure they get photographed a lot.
Stroll along the river Onyar and its various bridges to enjoy the great views of the colourful houses.
The street Rambla de la Llibertat at the eastbank of the river is the heart of old Girona. There are many bars, restaurants, market stalls and shops which invite the visitor for a rest or a stroll.
In some guidebooks Girona is named as “small Venice”. The main reason of it is the beautiful Onyar river channel. There are a few old and modern bridges through Onyar river, from here you could watch into picturesque houses and spires of churches.
The Onyar river itself looks neglect, possible it is polluted and sinken.
Girona looked the most medieval comparing it to other visited places in Catalunya (Barcelona, Tarragona, Montserrat).
The most medieval part of town is former Jewish quarter (El Call). It is full of narrow wawing streets, ups and downs. Jewish here lived from the second half of 10th century till 1492. It is the most preserved Jewish quarter in Europe.
Old town is also a home for some Romanesque – Gothic medieval churches, not too much changed for a long time.
The Tourist Info (pic 1) is located right at the beginning of Rambla de la Libertat you will probably begin to walk into the Old Town from here like I did. The friendly women provided us with a free map of the city and pointed us the main sites. They also informed about the museums/cathedrals, the times and the prices. The map was simple and just gave us a general orientation but Girona is a small town anyway
Some people dosnn’t speak English in town but if you know basic Spanish you wont have any problem. Of course, like in all town of Catalunya the main language is Catalan which sounds like a mix of Spanish and French. Most of the signs/menus etc have both languages.
Say “Hola” (hello), Gracies (thanks), Bon dia (good morning), Bona nit (good night) and most of the locals will be happy :)
If you want to visit the museums avoid Monday when everything is closed.
The Info is located by the River Onyar at Rambla de la Libertat 1, 17004 Girona.
Next to it is a kiosk full of newspapers and magazines (pic 2)
One of the favorite thing to visit in Girona is the jewish quarter - called Call - and the Museum of the History of Jewish people.
This year they have a programme of Conferences called JEWISH AUTHORS OF TEH 20th CENTURY
Fondest memory: Some streets have kept an unchanged look from the S. XIV.
Carrer de Sant Llorenç
Carrer de la Força
* Rambla de la Libertat, 1
- Tel.: (+34) 972 226 375
- Fax: (+34) 972 226 612
- Internet: www.ajuntament.gi/turisme (different languages)
- E. mail: email@example.com
* Berenguer Carnicer, 3
- Tel.: (+34) 972 211 678
- Fax: (+34) 972 221 135
- Internet: www.girona-net.com (different languages)
- E. mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Other websites:
- www.turismegirona.com (different languages)
- www.guiadegirona.es (in Spanish)
The Jewish Quarter of Girona (The Call) is a collection of narrow streets (and many steps) surrounding Carrer de la Forca, where today practically anything can be purchased. On the other hand, in Medieval times, it was a leading Jewish cultural center. Today its reflection can be seen at the Bonastruc ca Porta Centre, which contains the Museum of History of the Jews and the Nahmanides Institute.
In the hearf of the quarter there is the City Museum, specialized in the history of the city of Girona.
The view of the houses on the Onyar river, built from the late Middle Ages onwards, is one of the most authentic of Girona.
When I first visited Girona I immediatelly thought it's kind of like Venice (Italy). Colorful buildings and Onyar river with its incountable bridges really gave me this impression, althrough the cities in reality are quite different. Few months later, when I went to Porto (Portugal), I got the same feeling. It's just colorful buildings, water and bridges... :-)