Girona is a pleasant surprise of the trip. Completely unexpected for me.
I was only considering it to be a transit point. A place that we must stop for a while in order to go from A to B. A being Paris, B Barcelona. There was no G.
When Gui told me that we should plan on spending the day in Girona, I was a little shocked, “for what?”
“It sounded like an interesting place, very well preserved medieval town, conquered first by the Romans, then the Moors, then the Catalans. It was attacked by pretty much everyone in the neighborhood. ” That does sound interesting, especially the Moorish part.
I’ve seen plenty little medieval towns in the South of France. The narrow walk ways cut through fortress-like walls, Churches on the top of the hill, where all road leads to. Lots of stone walls, cobble stoned streets.
But Girona was prettier.
The maze like streets were fascinating.
The buildings were well preserved from outside, and extremely modernized from inside. All glass and steel, plus decorative rough stone walls thrown in for good measure. The genius of Spanish architects (or is that Catalan?) shone through in all the lovely curves and artistic touch in the little places: door handles, signs, lamp shades, etc..
After four full days of walking in Paris, my tired feet were begging for some rest. But this pretty little town attempted me so, that i couldn’t stop wandering among its mysterious alley ways. From day to night.
During our wandering hours, one of us always exclaimed, at every turn, at every new alley we managed to step into, every bridge we found through the dark entrances, “Why is it so quiet?” “Why isn’t there more tourists?” “Why are we the only guests here?” Gui was the only sane one, ‘What are you guys saying?isn’t it great?! We have this lovely place all to ourselves!”
We have to thank Ryanair for the discovery. More people start to discover this pretty town because Ryanair chose GIrona-Costa Brava Airport its airport for Barcelona.
Our host told us that Girona actually has the highest income per household in the entire Spain. That explained all the quiet but still well run businesses, shops, bars, tapas tavern, restaurant, etc. etc.
I loved this description from Gui’s travel book, “Rough Guide to Barcelona”, on Girona.
“The ancient walled city of Girona stands on a fortress-like hill, high above the River Onyar. It’s been fought over in almost every century since it was the Roman fortress of Gerunda on the Via Augusta and perhaps more than any other place in Catalunya, it retains the distinct flavour of its erstwhile inhabitants. Following the Moorish conquest of Spain, Girona was an Arab town for over two hundred years, a fact apparent in the maze of narrow streets in the center, and there was also a continuous Jewish presence here for six hundred years. By the 18th century, Girona had been besieged on 21 occasions, and in the 19th century it earned itself the nickname “Immortal” by surviving 5 attacks, of which the longest was a seven-month assault by the French in 1809. ”
Overwhelmingly beautiful medieval city.
Girona photos (click the photo below to see more):
All photos from the trip: Paris, Girona, Figures, Barcelona