15 March 2024

Nestled in the heart of Catalonia, in the north-eastern part of Spain, Girona is characterized by its ancient Roman roots, Gothic grandeur and diverse cultural influences. From the awe-inspiring Cathedral to the quaint, cobbled lanes of El Call, every step in this city tells a different story. Girona is much more than just a stopover – it is a destination in its own right!

And there is more to Girona than just its historical heartbeat. This city is a canvas of vibrant colours, especially the iconic houses along the Onyar River, painted in every hue under the sun. These riverside façades are a photographer's dream! Aside from its amazing landmarks, the city is also a gateway to the scenic trails of the Pyrenees and the rugged beauty of Costa Brava.

Once a pivotal Game of Thrones backdrop, Girona has kept a contagious vibrant energy, drawing you in and tempting you to explore every corner. Discover the wonders of Costa Brava's heart and you will find yourself eager to start packing for the journey!


Where is Girona and how to get there

1 - Where is Girona and how to get there

Nestled in the northeast of Spain, Girona is a gem just north of Barcelona, near the French border. This proximity makes it an ideal day trip from Barcelona. With a robust direct train connection, it is easily accessible for those who prefer to take the train. For road trippers, Girona serves as a perfect stop between the Costa Brava and Barcelona, offering a delightful blend of historical charm and modern convenience.

Whether you are travelling by train or car, getting to Girona is straightforward and adds to the adventure of exploring this Catalan jewel. The journey to Girona is more than just about reaching a destination; it is also about embracing the vibrant Catalan spirit and the beautiful landscapes that define this region.


Cross the bridges

2 - Cross the bridges

Did you know that Girona is home to several picturesque bridges? One interesting statistic is that the city boasts 11 of these constructions, each with its own unique architectural style.

Pont de Pedra (Stone Bridge), for example, dates back to the 1850s and is one of the most iconic bridges in Girona. It connects the old town with the modern centre and is a perfect spot for photographing the colourful houses along the Onyar River. Pont de les Peixateries Velles (Eiffel Bridge), designed by Gustave Eiffel’s company, is an iron marvel considered to be a piece of art in itself. Its red colour and intricate metalwork make it a standout landmark.

As you cross these and other bridges in Girona, each offers a unique vantage point to view the iconic houses lining the riverbank. Admire the lovely vistas and take plenty of photos!

Wander in El Call

3 - Wander in El Call

El Call is the city's historic Jewish quarter, characterized by a maze of narrow, intertwining streets, each turn inviting you to get blissfully lost in its ancient charm. It is one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe, with a history that traces back to the 1100s. After centuries of thriving economic and cultural growth, the Jewish community was expelled from Spain under the 1492 Edict of Expulsion, redacted by the Catholic monarchs.

The quarter creates a labyrinthine feel through its characteristically Jewish layout designed for defence and communal cohesion. Concealed within the walls are beautiful patios, which offer glimpses into the daily life of the medieval Jewish community in Spain. The Bonastruc ça Porta Centre, named after a prominent Jewish leader, is one of the attractions you will find here that offers insight into the community's traditions and customs. 

Visit the Cathedral

4 - Visit the Cathedral

As you wander through the charming streets of Girona, your eyes will be drawn to the grandeur of the Cathedral. This religious building is a landmark of immense historical and architectural significance. The current structure has its roots in a Romanesque church, of which the cloister and the Charlemagne Tower still remain. 

The Cathedral of Girona is renowned for having the widest Gothic nave in the world, measuring 22 metres, and the second widest overall nave after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City! The grand Romanesque cloister is one of the cathedral's most notable features, displaying a series of sculpted capitals with biblical and daily life scenes.

The cathedral houses the Tapestry of Creation, an 11th-century Romanesque tapestry that is a rare and valuable piece of art, depicting scenes from the Bible. 

Marvel at the Arab Baths

5 - Marvel at the Arab Baths

The Arab Baths of Girona, known as "Banys Àrabs" in Catalan, are a notable historical site. Despite their name, these are a Romanesque construction inspired by Roman and North African Islamic customs. These were built in the 12th century, around 1194, and are located near the town's Cathedral.

The entrance leads to the Apothecary, which was used for changing and relaxation. As you explore the inside, you will find spaces like the Caldarium (Hot Room), where visitors could enjoy a hot bath in a room heated from below the floor, a method known as hypocaust. The most iconic feature is, however, the central octagonal pool, covered by a cupola (dome).

The baths provide insight into the daily life and hygienic practices of medieval Girona. They are a fine example of the Romanesque style in Catalonia and illustrate the cultural exchanges between Christian and Muslim Spain during the Middle Ages.

Walk along Passeig de la Muralla

6 - Walk along Passeig de la Muralla

This ancient promenade offers breath-taking panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, providing a perfect opportunity for you to connect with the beauty of Girona. This walkway along the old city walls known as 'Muralla' dates back to the Roman times. Over the centuries, it has expanded and played a crucial role in Girona's various sieges and conflicts.

The Passeig de la Muralla encircles the old part of the city, providing a scenic and historical walking route, which includes towers, battlements and enthralling walkways. The path takes you through various sections, each offering different views and perspectives. These unique vantage points grant you a view of the city and help you grasp the depth of its historical significance. 


Taste local tapas at Plaça de la Independència

7 - Taste local tapas at Plaça de la Independência

Plaça de la Independència, also known as Independence Square, is one of the most significant and emblematic public spaces in Girona, named in honour of the soldiers who fought against the Napoleonic troops in the 1800s. Today, this is a bustling area filled with cafés, bars and restaurants and cherished by both locals and visitors. 

Over the years, Plaça de la Independència has become renowned for its array of tapas bars and restaurants. Tapas are small, savoury Spanish dishes, often served as a snack with drinks or with other tapas as a meal. Patatas bravas, pimientos de padrón, jamón ibérico and croquetas are some of the delicacies you can try.

Many establishments in Plaça de la Independència have outdoor seating; so, sit back and enjoy your tapas while people-watching and soaking in the atmosphere of this historic square!


Girona on the big screen

8 - Girona on the big screen

Girona gained international fame as a filming location for the popular series 'Game of Thrones'. Key scenes were shot at El Call, the cathedral stairs and the Arab Baths, bringing the city's medieval architecture into the spotlight. The city's ancient streets and historic buildings provided an ideal backdrop for several key scenes in the series, particularly in its sixth season.

The imposing Cathedral of Girona was transformed into the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. Its baroque staircase became a prominent feature in the series, especially in scenes involving the Faith of the Seven. The narrow, winding streets of Girona's Jewish Quarter were used to depict various parts of Braavos and Oldtown. Plaça dels Jurats was also used for theatre scenes in Braavos, where Arya Stark watches a play recounting the history of her own family.

A fusion of ancient charm and contemporary life

As the curtain falls on our journey through Girona, it is clear that this city is more than just a chapter in a guidebook – it is a living, breathing storybook. Each historic monument, every lively street and the myriad of flavours of its cuisine are like pages filled with adventures waiting to be lived. So, are you ready to write your own story in the heart of Costa Brava?

Topics: Spain Travel, travel agency, visitspain, spain, girona, self-guided, catalonia, history, gastronomy, culture, Spanish travel agency, tourtailors, medieval, spain tourism

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