Getaways: Girona & Figueres (Part 1)

Part 2: Attractions in Girona

Happy New Year! I trust you all had a relaxing holiday with lots of good food :) Still in holiday mood? Let’s go for a weekend getaway in these two culturally rich gems in Catalonia, shall we?

Itinerary:

  • Day 1: FIGUERES
    • (Morning) Barcelona – Figueres
    • (Day) Figueres
    • (Night) Figueres – Girona
  • Day 2: GIRONA
    • (Day) Girona
    • (Night) Girona – Barcelona

Girona is located 99km (62 miles) northeast of Barcelona while Figueres is located 40km (25 miles) north of Girona. They are both within the Province of Girona (one of the four Catalan provinces).

When I went to Figueres from Barcelona, I rode line R11 of the Rodalies de Catalunya, which terminates at Portbou/Cerbère. Same route for Figueres-Girona and Girona-Barcelona so you don’t need to worry about transportation at all :)

termo-R11

Attractions in Figueres

  1. Teatre-Museu Dalí (Dalí Theatre and Museum)

Salvador Dalí from Figueres was the most prominent Catalan representative of surrealism. He was a talented painter, sculptor, director, writer, scenographer (,and more), whose work is absolutely mind-blowing and is still influential to art creation nowadays. This Dalí Theatre and Museum holds the largest and some of the most important collection of his works among all other Dalí museums in Europe and in the States.

The facade of the museum is already an attraction itself: an enormous crimson wall decorated with golden bread, huge white eggs standing on the roof parapet, gold Dionysian figurines posing freely on the roof, and frontiers of cypress being the guardian of the museum. How impressive!

IMG_6439
Exterior of the museum

As he once saidQuiero que las personas que visiten este museo tengan la sensación de que están viviendo un sueño (I want visitors to leave with the sensation of living a dream)”. The museum is just like a labyrinth, leading you to the heart of the museum – the theatre.

After passing through the entrance, which is opposite Església parroquial de Sant Pere (St. Peter’s Church; somewhere around Plaça Gala i Salvador Dalí), you will first be led to the courtyard, where Cadillac plujós and la barca de Gala are installed. From there, you can see the signature glass geodesic dome above the stage of the old town’s theatre, which is the heart of the museum where Dalí is buried underneath.

Dalí created some stunning exhibited works tailored for the museum, for example, la sala Mae West and la sala Palau del Vent. A selection of his most renowned works is also kept inside this gigantic art palace.

There are lot more for you to explore at the museum. Tickets sold probably include entrance of Dalí·Joies (Dalí·Jewels) next door. Have a brilliant time appreciating the glamorous pieces of collection, and don’t forget to take some photos (without flash)!

  1. Castell de Sant Ferran (St. Ferdinand Castle)

The gigantic fortress was built with stone and brick in the 18th century (1753), which is now the biggest monument in Catalonia. In Spanish, it was named after King Fernando VI as the first stone was placed during his reign (1746-1759). The castle was constructed because of the loss of Castell de Bellaguarda on a territory passed to France due to Tractat dels Pirineus (Treaty of the Pyrenees; King Felipe IV, 1621-1665). During the Spanish Civil War, Francisco Franco took over the castle.

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On my way to the castle

Castell de Sant Ferran is renowned for its size and its engineering back then. 32 hectares of land within the exterior perimeter of 3,125 metres is bounded by walls of 2,100 metres, with eight main water tanks built under the main courtyard, which can hold up to 9 million litres of water in total. Guided tours for visitors older than 10 years old are available upon reservation.

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A close-up

Visit to the castle is free of charge and without reservation for individual travellers. Situated at the end of Pujada del Castell, where Teatre-Museu Dalí is right around the corner on the other end, the castle is easily assessable. It was a December when I visited there so it was very windy yet the weather was gorgeous. From the top of the hill, you may enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of the east end of the Pyrenees mountain range.

  1. Other museums/shops

There are other smaller museums in the town, such as Museu del Joguet de Catalunya (Toy Museum of Catalonia) and Museu Empordà (an archaeology museum). You may eve visit Església parroquial de Sant Pere (St. Peter’s Church), which is opposite the entrance of Teatre-Museu Dalí. Shops of all kinds can be found easily in streets around Plaça Ajuntament (the main square). Immerse in tranquility of the town and people-watch when you fancy sitting in the sun at a café terrace.

Useful links

*Words in italic are in Catalan (except: Fernando VI and Felipe IV (Spanish))

photo: “Labyrinth” in sunlight at the stage area of the museum (Dalí’s creation for Léonide Massine’s ballet as backdrop in 1941; Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, New York; 8.8x13m; more info regarding conservation and maintenance work for this masterpiece can be viewed here)
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