During the Spanish Civil War, many people had to flee across the border to France on foot and there were several routes through the mountains. This route from La Vajol in Catalunya to Les Illes in France, was famously taken by Lluís Companys (President of Catalonia), Manuel Azaña (President of the Spanish Republic), and Manuel Aguirre (Basque Lehendakari) in 1939 to escape Franco's forces, as well as by thousands more. In France the gendarmes took the exiles to the internment camps, one of the most notorious being on Argeles beach. The memorial statue of the man with his amputee child is a representation of a photograph taken at the time of two such people on the route.The route on foot is from La Vajol - Monument a l'exili - Can Comaulis - Can Barris - Coll de Lli - Les Illes (Catalunya Nord aka France) - Coll de Manrella - La Vajol - Mina Canta - La Vajol.
Distance: 13 Km.
We arrived in La Vajol, had a little wander around the small hamlet with its' Romanesque church (closed) and then headed for the monument, which considering it is the only such monument in Catalunya, was isolated in a disgracefully unkempt back lane with a derelict-looking caravan parked round the back. (Nobody else tells you that). Things improved, though. It being December and hot, naturally, we passed on the suggested complete re-run of the exile walk/cycle. We took the car part of the way up, walked to the commemorative plaque, where we had a picnic, then took the car to the top. We drove over the top of the mountain and down into France and Les Illes, where we had coffee in the charming Hostal dels Trabucaires, it being a little late for 'omelette'. It was magical, a time capsule, though the road is not to be driven by those with nice cars! It is almost vertical and unpaved. We spent the afternoon in the La Jonquera Exile Museum which is fantastic.
Taking the GI-505 road towards Coll de Manrella, we soon come to the Manrella-Comaulis restaurant, a good place to park for those travelling by car. One hundred metres further ahead, we come to a turn-off to the left, where a sign indicates the path to Coll de Lli hill, Cabrera Castle and the Sanctuary of Les Salines.
Just beyond this building, we come to a crossroads, where we continue straight on towards the village of Les Illes in France. At this point there is a small esplanade with a wire fence, where signs indicate the French border. Another sign, which reads Gite d’étape, indicates the direction towards a rural holiday homein Les Illes. We have now reached the top of Coll de Lli hill.
Our path now leads downwards, along a slope of low-to-medium difficulty. In autumn, the track, which leads through a chestnut wood, is thick with fallen leaves, which makes it difficult to negotiate, and it is advisable to walk along the side of the path itself. The last stretch of the path runs through private property at which, though we have right of way, we must open a gate and follow the path to a second.
Passing through this second gate, we find ourselves in the centre of Les Illes, where the exiles arrived after climbing the Coll de Lli. The first building we reach is the Hostal dels Trabucaires. This hostel is a historic establishment where, according to the local people, President Companys stayed. When he left, the hostel keeper made him an omelette, though he was unable to pay her for it as he had no money. There is a saying around these parts that the Catalans still owe them an omelette. Opposite this hostel is a Gite d’étape (rural holiday home). Another interesting site in Les Illes is the monument to the International Brigades and the republican army.
The quickest way back to La Vajol is to retrace our steps along the same path. An alternative route is over the Coll de Manrella hill, though the journey is longer and the path is not so easy to follow due to the many forest tracks that cross it. However, on leaving Les Illes, those returning by this route should take the cement road towards the Mas del Batlle farmhouse then follow an easterly direction until they reach the forest path to Coll de Manrella.
On reaching Coll de Manrella hill, where we enter Catalonia once more, we find the pyramid-shaped monument known as the “Temple of Peace”, erected to the memory of Lluís Companys. The monument was erected here precisely, not because President Companys passed through this point, but because it occupies a better site, more open and accessible than the Coll de Lli, which is the route that Companys actually took. The monument is also easily accessible from La Vajol, the journey taking just a few minutes by car.
(thank you for great description of walk above)
Directions to La Vajol
N-II national road to km. 773, or A-7 motorway to Exit 2 (La Jonquera), then take N-II towards Barcelona to the sign indicating the turn-off to Agullana and Maçanet de Cabrenys GI-500. From Agullana, the road to La Vajol becomes the GI-501.
Exile Memorial Museum
La Jonquera. 43-47 Carrer Major
This is a very enjoyable little stroll around the centre of Girona....looking up. It's a route hinted at on the Casa Masó website, but which they couldn't be bothered to explain properly, that or they are very reluctant to give out information without obliging you to pay a guide. Even if you're not into architecture, it's a relaxing way of seeing the town. I am devoting my blogging life to exposing the secrets of Girona.
Here is a list of the buildings (there are more, but maybe not so interesting to look at), built by Masó in the Modernist and 'Noucentista' style and in a different order to that presented on the Casa Masó site. I've added information to help with finding it and a couple of photos. The route can start anywhere really, though the route i suggest is probably the most efficient from the apartment. Back with a map soon!
Masó Modernist Route
Apt block Salieti 1914
C / de la Neu,1
Don’t know yet why it’s called
. Between c/Ciudans and c/ Mercaders and now belonging to Neus apparently!
Galeria de bells oficis 1919
C / dels Germans Busquets, 2
Snicket off the top of the Rambla by ‘Imaginarium’ and in front of the tourist office. Look inside.
didn't find this one first time round
Farmacia masó-puig (saguer) 1908
C / Argenteria, 29
Just next to the bridge over to Plaça Independencia, a gem – go inside and buy something
Apt block Ribas Crehuet 1927
C / de la Força, 6
A bit further down from the ‘Via Augusta’ restaurant, on the other side of the road
Casa masó 1910-19
C / Ballesteries
Next door to ‘Terra’ café/bar (and don’t miss the entrance way on the opposite side of the street, containing the remains
of a roman tower (3
This is the back - from the river bridge, it's the big white and blue building with orange shutters.
Apt block Cots 1924-28
C / Santa Clara, 53
‘Nespresso’, don’t join the queue to buy anything.
Apt block batlle 1909
C / Fontanilles, 2
Off c/ Nou, on the corner in front of the Claustre Art Gallery. Bat man lives here!
Casa corominas 1927
Plaça Marques de Camps, 2
Soon! Haven’t finished, I do other things you know!
to be honest this is as far as i've got...back next week
Casa gispert saüch 1921
C / Jaume I, 66
YOU find it!
Casa colomer 1927
C / Barcelona, 7
Farinera i casa d'Alfons Teixidor 1910
C/ Santa Eugenia, 42
Marvellous, not to be missed façade, and the café’s great too. On Wednesday mornings, expats meet here –all visitors
La punxa apt block 1918-22
C / Santa Eugenia, 19
This is on the opposite side of the road, to the right as you leave no 11.
Casa encesa 1913-32
C / Barcelona, 68
Watch this space!
Tanca del cementiri 1917-19
C / Sant Feliu de Guixols, 17
Too far on foot, you need a car to drive towards Quart or Sant Feliu
Here is the route, explained by the Generalitat, which is all very well, just don't expect to be finished in and hour and a half, as stated. It took us 2.5 hours, on a perfect day (not too hot but warm breezy, sunny, October day, very dry under foot). But not just an easy walk in the park 2.5 hours - straight up and vertiginously down. If you suffer from vertigo, as i do, the return path is 'bestial' as they say in these parts, but i think this word applies to Catalan walks generally.....or i'm just a wimp. To be fair, the path doesn't peter out completely or leave you actually hand climbing as on some walks i could mention, but you need to be reasonably used to walking and careful where you put your feet.
Having said all that, the views are magnificent over Roses bay and the mountains back towards Olot. The Dolmens don't disappoint either - plenty of them to keep you amused and there's a cave as well, though i was too busy wondering how i was going to get down the mountain to pay much attention. The route is quite well signposted. I would just say that the Vinya del rei dolmen you actually come across, last, not first, if you follow the signs. You can get to it AFTER the Garrollar dolmen by following that dolmen's little path round and then retracing your steps, alternatively. If you don't like the path coming down, just go back the way you came, after the Cau del Llop (Wolf's Cave) which is worth seeing. We didn't find the prehistoric engravings....
We finished our walk at 2.30pm and by 3pm were very nicely installed in Casa del Mar restaurant, Llança port, for a perfect paella and Rueda verdejo, well deserved and appreciated. I suggest you do the same.Get on with it!
Palau Robert Route Sheet
Counties: Alt Empordà || Difficulty: Easy || Media Locomotion: On Foot || Distance: 5.0 km ||
Ascent: 330.0 m || Gradient Descent: 330.0 m || Signaling: Yes || Duration: 1 h 33 min
The so-called Dolmens Route begins near Vilajuïga. Dolmens are primitive megalithic monuments which
were used as graves in prehistoric times. Some curious engravings sculpted on flat stones date from the
same period; they are ancient representations of the first settlers in the lowlands of L'Albera.
To reach the starting point of the excursion you leave Vilajuïga on GIP-6041 towards Sant Pere de Rodes.
(to get to Vilajuïga, take the N-260 from Figueres in the direction of Llançà and take a right turn along the
GI-604). A kilometre further on a signposted track on the right indicates the start of the Dolmens Route.
There is a place to park the car. Further on the track comes to an end and you continue along a path. Very
shortly, this divides into two; you should take the trail on the left which will take you across a small fast
running stream and upwards.
After walking for half an hour you come to the Vinya del Rei dolmen, the largest one on the excursion.
A chamber 2.2 metres wide, 2.8 metres long and 1.65 metres high has been preserved. The path goes off
to the left before turning suddenly to the right and climbing steeply up to the crest, at which point you come
at once to El Garrollar dolmen, in which you can only see a chamber and the flagstone of the passage.
After 45 minutes, and having negotiated a considerable change in altitude, you walk along a stone wall and
you find two more dolmens, La Talaia and Les Ruïnes, a rectangular tomb with a gallery that has six great
stones holding up the roof. Shortly afterwards, you come to La Carena dolmen, also rectangular, and 3
metres long by 1.6 metres wide.
Just over an hour later you come out onto the road to Sant Pere de Rodes (the GIP-6041), where you can
see some prehistoric engravings on stones representing crosses and bowls. You keep on along the road
and 35 metres further on you take a footpath which is rather less open than the previous ones. You go up
a little and then start to go down again by the track which crosses ground that is both stony and steep. You
should always follow the yellow markers. Take no notice of a small turn off to the right which would take you
to the track that you took on the way up and which you can easily identify to the west where the crest and
the dolmens are clearly visible. You pass by the side of the dolmen Caigut.
After one hour and 20 minutes, the route crosses the mountain; you change over to the other slope and, on
the way down, come to the cave of the Cau del Llop or wolf's den cave, where megalithic settlers lived. The
cave is 2 metres high and 3 metres long. Further on the road goes down steeply until it meets up with the
track of the ascent at the place where you crossed the fast running stream and at which point you have to
turn to the left. By this means, you will arrive, after 45 minutes, at the starting point.
When you open the page, close the rules and regulations window and press the 'cerca d'itineraris' search button. This will open up all
15 pages of pdfs
walking and cycling
and it doesn't matter it's in Catalan because they're maps and google earth zoom-ins to show you where you are. I highly recommend the
Cap de Creus
National Park (focused on the
Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes
, not to be missed and the restaurant isn't bad either!) and of course the
Garrotxa Volcanic National Park
for the volcano spotters and the
Aiguamolls del Empordà
Distance: 8.25 km
Ascent: 450m Duration: 2 h 40 min
Don't go at the weekend, it can get quite crowded up there!!
From the Collada de Bracons to El Puigsacalm
In the surroundings of Puigsacalm we find the green, leafy, endless landscapes of the Pyrenean foothills as
nowhere else in the wet regions of Catalonia. The view from the summit, 1515 m high, is of such extraordinary
grandiosity and beauty that no-one can say they know Catalonia until they have climbed it.
The route starts from Collada de Bracons. To get there we take C-152 from Olot to Sant Feliu de Pallerols
and turn right along GIV-5273, the local road from Joanetes and La Vall d'en Bas to Torelló.
Once at the top of the pass, we leave the car and take a road that heads north, negotiating a rocky edge
of the main road. Ten minutes later we pass a path on the right that climbs up to the top of Tosell Gros hill.
Further on, in a splendid beech wood, we pass another path on the left.
After climbing for 45 minutes we come to Collada de Sant Bartomeu. Here we find a turnoff where we take
the road to the right. After 1 hour 20 minutes we come to Font Tornadissa. Here the road veers east and
climbs. Not far off is the road to Platraver and Sant Bartomeu. The track leaves the wood and continues
along Manter flats.
In just under two hours we come to Puigsacalm. If you are walking with small children, be careful they do not
fall. The panorama is so extensive that we could use the magnificent view to give a practical geography class.
Distance: 9.9 km
Duration: 3 h
This itinerary is circular, beginning and ending at the same point after visiting three of the best-known and
most attractive spots in the Natural Park: the Jordà beech wood and the Santa Margarida and Croscat
volcanoes. The route is marked by the natural park with the number 1 and the color red. Get the Teisa bus to Olot (1hr 10 ish), get a taxi from the bus station to 'Area Servei Santa Margardia' or 'Parquing Can Serra'(10 mins). Get the taxi driver's number to call him when you want to go back.
Although the recommended starting point is the Can Serra service area (Jordà beech wood), it is also
possible to begin at the Santa Margarida service area. Both service areas are on the GI-524 road from Olot
to Santa Pau, at kms 4 and 6, respectively.
If you leave Can Serra and head south, you have to cross the road and go down some steps which lead
to the Jordà beech wood. Just before you reach the wood, on the right-hand side there is a monolith in the
memory of poet Joan Maragall.
Jordà beech wood
is exceptional, because it grows on flat ground, 550 m above sea level, on top of a lava
flow from the Croscat volcano. Leaving the wood, the path goes on to the Can Batlle gap and Sant Miquel
de Sacot (Romanesque church, 11th century); km 3.5. From there it descends to the Sacot plain via the
Bassols gap, on the south-west flank of the Santa Margarida volcano (km 5.2).
Santa Margarida volcano
This is a mixed volcano, which has phases of eruption of the strombolian and
phreatomagmatic types. The latter are explosive and opened up a broad circular crater, within which is the
hermitage which has given the volcano its name. Apart from the crater, now a meadow, the rest of the
volcano is covered with woodland, evergreen oaks on the sunny side and mixed deciduous trees on the
shady side. The itinerary continues on down to the Santa Margarida service area (km 6.2), crosses the
GI-524 and joins Itinerary 15 (Croscat volcano clay pits), to the turnoff to Can Passavent (km 7).
Strombolian, and the cone is the largest on the Iberian Peninsula. 160 m high. It also
seems to be the youngest of them all. For years volcanic materials were extracted from the side, leaving
an impressive gash (grederes), which we can visit by following Itinerary 15.After skirting the old rubbish tip,
now sealed off, on the north flank of the volcano, the path descends gently to the car park and the Can
Serra service area (km 9.90).
You should carry a map of the area. You need suitable clothing and footwear, food and water.
Av. Onze de Setembre, 22, 2ª pl.
972 271 600
Oficina de Turisme d'Olot
C/ Hospici, 8
972 260 141
Taken from Palau Robert Routes website
Combine with a walk round the town and maybe lunch in El Ranxo as was, now Can Xabanet.
Distance: 6.8 km Duration: 1 h 30 min
Get the bus to Banyoles from Girona bus station, a 2 minute walk from Gironalet Apartment. It takes about 25 minutes.
Itinerary around Banyoles Lake that visits a number of places of interest such as Can Morgat woods,
Coromina and La Draga Parks, Nou and El Vilar pools, and the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa
Maria de Porqueres.
The best way to do the round tour of the lake is to leave the car and walk a while. The starting point could be the swimming club at Banyoles at the side of La Draga park, where you are able to park the car. You leave behind the swimming club facilities and walk north. The road is delightful and runs just a few metres from the waterside, amidst a variety of trees and plants: the old plane trees of La Draga, the lakeside trees, the marshland reeds and the holm oak and live oak wood of Can Morgat.
By now you are already on the west side of the lake and come out of Can Morgat wood to take the bypass
road for a few hundred metres. Before you come to Riera Castellana, you can observe the Nou pool to the
right, which was created just a few years ago by a cave-in of earth. Further on there is another pool which
is famous because from time to time it takes on a violet colour. At the same point in the road but over to the left, there is a wooden platform which serves as a viewpoint over the lake.
You return to the main road. After a long straight stretch, you leave the road and go to the left where you
will find the spring of el Rector in the Coromina park. Immediately afterwards, you pass below the church of
Santa Maria de Porqueres, a Romanesque jewel, and which you get to by going up a track on the right hand
side and a little further on. The track now goes back into a wooded area in which you can go onto another
wooden platform in order to get close to the lake and then return to the path between the lake and El Vilar
pool. You now enter Els Desmais area -the water sprites' ballroom-and the spring of la Filosa. The track
leaves you at the so-called Front de l'Estany, an area of bars, fishing jetties, restaurants and chalets, where
you will also find the original tourist office inside a fishing boat. End of the walk.
Taken from the Palau Robert Routes website
These are the directions in English. We did this walk (when not that fit), there and back in 5 hours with a long lunch break at the top not included! We estimated 19kms, but it’s more like 22km. It’s an up and down walk, not difficult, with the sanctuary where Dali and Gala married, at the top. The restaurant is basic but pleasant and acceptable food, not expensive. You can walk it from the apartment doorstep. When we walked this about 12 years ago, we thought we’d just walk an hour and turn back, but we were animated to continue by other walkers, so we ended up at the top with about 600 pesetas on us. We asked in the restaurant if there was anything we could eat for this pittance and were told to sit down and served with a wonderful paella and even a glass of wine I think. We were pathetically grateful and have fond memories ever since!
NB: If this is too long, or its' just too hot for it, just do the first part to the Monastery to Sant Daniel and have lunch at Cul del Mon restaurant (or a coffee break). It's a very beautiful area very near the centre of Girona.
Taken from the Palau Robert Route sheets.
Distance: 22.35 km. Ascent: 700.0 m. Duration: 5/6 h.
From Sant Daniel valley you climb up to Els Àngels sanctuary, from where you have a fine panoramic view of Les Gavarres, the Empordà plain and, farther off, Les Guilleries and the Pyrenees. The route goes through the Gavarres massif with holm oak, strawberry trees and box.
You leave Girona from the church of Sant Pere de Galligants and take the road for Sant Daniel.
On the left you see the Archaeological walk and the cathedral.
After 5 minutes, taking the road to the right, you pass Font del Bisbe and keep straight on. You follow the
signs to Els Àngels sanctuary, straight on, and pass the signposted path to Sant Miquel castle.
After 25 minutes you pass under the N-II tunnel and after 40 minutes you come to a fork: either of the two
signposted branches, the Els Àngels road or the old Els Àngels road, leads to the sanctuary. Along the way
you find stretches with the white and red marks of a GR (Grande Randonnée path). You come to L'Olivet
d'en Salgueda, 1 hour 10 minutes, from where you have fine views of the city of Girona. A signposted road
on the left goes up to Sant Miquel castle. You go down 400 metres and take a path on the left to Els Àngels.
You come out onto the road from Girona to Els Àngels (la GIV-6703) after 1 hour 15 minutes, carry on for 60
metres to the left and take a signposted path. You pass Casa de les Figues, now deserted, along stretches
of dirt and asphalt: you always follow the signs.
After 2 hours 20 minutes you come to La Mare de Déu dels Àngels sanctuary, the end of the route. From
here you retrace your steps.
To cycle, see 'Cycling from Girona' section.
These walls are mainly 14th century, dating from 1362 when King Pere III, the Ceremonious, ordered them to be built to include the new neighbourhoods or 'burgs', which had developed around the old nucleus. They cover the right side of the Onyar river. In the 17th century Vauban-designed fortifications were added to the wall.
start in Plaça de Sant Feliu
/Felix. Looking over from the bridge, on your left you can see some houses running parallel to the river. Find
Carrer de la Barca
, where the open arch is. This was the gate from where the boat to Sant Gregori left. It was built on the old wall between 1367 and 1380. The Sunset jazz club is just here, by the way, for future reference....
Anyway, i digress. Like detectives, you now have to find the so-called
of which nothing is left but i'll give you a clue - walk to
Plaça de Sant Pere
, then continue along the road going towards Pedret and away from Girona (you'll know you're right when you reach a railway bridge - at this point you've come too far. If you turn round, on the left you will see clearly the wall extending off to your left and some steps up. This is where you're headed and the França Gate used to span over the middle of what is now the road, more or less where the zebra crossing is. It was one of the main entrances to the city in the middle ages.
Once up on the wall, the views are magnificent, extending to the distance mountains with the Devesa wood in front and the rest of the old town in the foreground. You look down first on the
Jardins de l'Angel
(you can go down and wander around them) and eventually on more gardens, the
John Lennon Gardens
(again you can wander around here and rejoin the wall to continue).
quite a while dawdling and taking photos, you'll come out at
Sant Pere Galligants Romanesque church
on the Sant Daniel Valley road, and from here you are in spitting distance of a couple of cafes for a breather...Because it continues....
Cross the river from the church and follow the 'Archeological Walk', where you will almost certainly be tempted down other paths.
However, to complete the medieval wall circuit, things get complicated.This photo shows an unrecognisable fortified Sant Pere Galligants church, made into part of the defensive wall.
After a break then, i suggest starting at
, on the outside looking in as it were, to the Cathedral square, and following the wall to your left (away from Sant Feliu/Felix Church). This is originally roman but has the reinforced medieval wall and towers on top. Follow then the
to its' end, hopefully arriving at Plaça Catalunya. You might have to start from
to do this part of the wall because it has been known for the gate at the highest point of the wall (near Torre Gironella), to be locked, so everyone has to traipse back down again in single file! It's a bit of true local experience however!
See the link at the bottom of the page to find the original
Girona Tourist Office leaflet
, available in English. I've put the text here, verbatum, in case you can't get hold of a copy when you arrive, to publicise it and to give an idea of the route. I haven't 'done' it yet, so i can't unreservedly recommend it, but it looks interesting.
This itinerary runs through a district known as Les Pedreres (The Quarries), in the east of the city, beside the Old Town. The name evokes the origin of the district and its function in the history of Girona.
The route runs along Camí de la Ferradura, formerly a favourite walking place for Girona inhabitants until the
quarries were developed into today’s residential area. On the way, you will learn something about the so-called Girona stone, its composition, and its formation thousands of years ago. The path passes by the old quarries, and demonstrates the widespread use of this stone in the architectural heritage of Girona. It also affords remarkable views over the city.
The name Girona stone comes from the fact that it is found in the area surrounding the city and has
been quarried here since ancient times. This calcareous sedimentary rock originated from the deposit of
carbonates and remains of living organisms formed in the shallow tropical sea that covered this area 50 million years ago. The whitish, grey-blue stone contains many fossils of which nummulites are the most frequently found.
From Plaça de Catalunya, climb up to the city wall, and walk along until Torre del General Peralta. Come down from the wall, continue along Passeig de Fora Muralla, turning right towards Camí de la Ferradura, on up to Torre Alfons XII and back down through Les Pedreres district by the Caputxins steps.
Variations: One possible variation is to continue along the city wall until Torre Gironella, then turn into Carrer dels Merlets and Camí de la Ferradura until you reach Torre Alfons XII.Another variation is to start at Joan Puigbert Primary School, go along Carrer del Regiment de Baza, turn to the right up Pujada de la Torre Alfons XII, continue on up to the tower and back down to Torre Gironella via Camí de la Ferradura.
The starting point of the itinerary is Plaça de Catalunya, from where you climb up the steps to the city wall at Jardí de la Infància, site of the former En Banyoles Gate.
1. Starting point
The building of this stretch of the city wall commenced in 1362, following orders from Pere el Cerimoniós, who wished to protect the districts that had sprung up outside the original walled enclosure. The itinerary passes over Les Beates gate and on to a sentry box, along the west side of the former La Mercè bastion (now Jardins de la Muralla). It then passes over Nou gate and Els Socors gate, the latter being of strategic importance as it linked the city to the fortresses at the quarries. The next stop is Torre del General Peralta.
2. City Wall
At the end of Carrer dels Merlets, where it meets Camí de la Ferradura, there is a place to stop and examine some nummulite fossils and, while you are there, enjoy the view over the city. If you look closely at the
stone, you will see nummulites, i.e., “giant” single-cell organisms protected by a carbonated shell, which used to inhabit the seabed of the shallow waters that covered this area millions of years ago. These are not the only fossils present in the stone; on closer observation, you will also see remains of other organisms, such as ostreids, bivalves, snails, shells and corals. There is a good view of the city from this point, right at the start of
Camí de la Ferradura. The route continues along this path until it reaches the amphitheatre formed by the walls of the quarry.
3. Torre del General Peralta.
Panoramic view of the Old Town and the Quarries. At the entrance to the quarry, just where Camí de la Ferradura meets Passeig del General Peralta and Carrer dels Caputxins, you will see some carved stone
blocks that call to mind the former stone-working trades: quarrymen, stonebreakers, stonecutters, stone carvers, hewers, pavers, porters, bearers etc. These trades, documented from the 14th century onwards, were organised into a system of guilds and brotherhoods, which continued to exist until the liberal reforms of the early 19th century.
4. City Wall Blocks
Look eastwards from Torre del General Peralta for a good view of the nummulite rock formations in one of the many quarries of the area, source of the stone used for the buildings in the historic city centre. Then
cast your gaze from north to south to take in the contrast between old, monumental Girona and the more modern urban districts beyond. The old buildings (the walled enclosure, churches such as Sant Feliu, the Cathedral with its wide flight of steps, and most of the surrounding buildings) are striking for the greyish-ochre shades of the Girona stone used in their construction.
5. Camí de la Ferradura.
Nummulites observation point and view of the city. Close observation of the blocks used to build the city wall shows that calcareous nummulite rock was the most common building material. We can also see, to a lesser extent, other materials such as plutonic rock, basalt, sandstone
and fragments of bricks or tiles.
6. Detail of carved stone
At this point, in the semi-circular quarry facing you, you can find a sample of Girona stone carved during the process of extraction. There are also outcrops of lichens, said to be the first stage of colonisation of living organisms, which can be easily observed with the aid of a simple modern plaque. The vegetation on this type of stony soil is mostly dense clumps of Kermes oak; the most frequent trees here are hackberries.
7. Quarry beside camí de la Ferradura
At this point, in the semi-circular quarry facing you, you can find a sample of Girona stone carved during the process of extraction. There are also outcrops of lichens, said to be the first stage of colonisation of living organisms, which can be easily observed with the aid of a simple modern plaque. The vegetation on this type of stony soil is mostly dense clumps of Kermes oak; the most frequent trees here are hackberries
8. Torre Alfons XII
The highest point of the itinerary is Torre Alfons XII, located on a 160 metre high vantage point. The path around its perimeter affords a magnificent panoramic view of the city. This 19th century tower stands on the site of a former stronghold built in 1675 as a watchtower for Condestable fortress, originally part of the east and southeast defence system of Girona. In 1814, French troops blew up the stronghold, along with the other nearby fortresses. Torre Alfons XII was built as a small fort during the Third Carlist War (1872-1876), using the stones from the ruined watchtower, in the style of late 19th-century defence works. Just beneath the tower, you will find the old (disused) Mirador spring, a good place to stop for a rest and contemplate the Old Town from the shade of a hackberry tree.
9. La Pedrera lookout point
A few yards from the tower there is a lookout point affording splendid views of the city, with the Pyrenees on the horizon, among which you can make out the peaks of Canigó and Puig Neulós. You will also be able to observe some natural stone outcrops on the path leading up to the tower.
10. Caputxins steps
The route ends by going down the Caputxins steps and back to the starting point.
From the centre of Girona, head towards the church of Sant Pere de Galligants, off the Plaça de Sant Pere. The little road to the left of the church goes to the valley of Sant Daniel.
Another route is to find the Gironell Tower of the wall, which is a ruin and looks like blown up grey masonry (which is in fact what it is).
From here you can walk above and parallel to the previously mentioned road, then you veer off left into olive groves and follow the 'stations of the cross' in a bucolic setting, to arrive at Sant Daniel Monastery. Before visiting the monastery you can walk a while, discovering various 'Fonts' or springs.
This is where you can find the 'Cul del Mon' restaurant where i sat and had a coffee with ice ('cafe amb gel') on an extremely pleasant, rural terrace.
If you're not interested in the monastery, you can walk here for supper one evening, earning your first drink on the way, and enjoying the cool of the evening on the way back.
I intend to put more specific directions here, but for now, you have only clues.
Motor over to this Romanesque monastery with its' fabulous views over the sea, arriving via Llança or Vilajüiga from Figueres. There's a little route of maximum an hour, around the out-buildings - where the kitchen gardens were, the hospital, where they did the washing, the abbot's palace etc. They have a good restaurant and cafe for a lunch break, naturally, which will be needed if you do the monastery and its' surroundings justice - there are plenty of walks starting from here and leaflets provided.
Go down to Port de la Selva for a walk and a coffee. Or head for Cap de Creus where there is a little cafe on the headland. You could stop off in Figueres on the way back if you haven't dawdled by the rocky shoreline, or Cadaques or Roses...
The History of Catalonia Museum, has this guide to the monastery.
And this is the museum link but it only seems to open in catalan
The Wall (the medieval one!)
The best introduction to Girona is to go to Plaça Catalunya, 5 minutes walk from the apartment, and from there start the walk around the old wall of Girona (la Muralla). The views are magnificent and you will get your bearings. You look down on the old town and in the distance might see snow in the Pyrenees.
The wall i am referring to here, the one in the photo, is the medieval wall. The Roman wall is a different circuit altogether - see Walks from Girona section.
Probably better to do the Roman wall walk first as it shows you the perimeter of the true beginnings of 'Gerunda'. The medieval wall meets the roman wall at a right angle at the Telegraph Tower (in the centre of the first photo below).
Sometimes, about half way along, the door in one of the towers is closed and you have to retrace your steps. If so, find time if you can, to go to the beginning of the other end of the wall, to be found near Sant Felix Church (Plaça de Sant Domenec) where you get another wonderful perspective on Girona old town and also some gardens to visit.
The wall takes you to the Cathedral, which you can pay a visit with an audioguide. There is the famous tapestry of the Creation inside and the church has the widest vaulted nave in Europe. The video of the different construction periods of the Cathedral is interesting.
These are near the Cathedral and are definitely worth a visit if there are no queues.
Again nearby. The Jewish museum is informative, if you have time and energy.
Sant Pere Galligants Monastery
This church and the Sant Nicolas Church in the same square are both marvellous examples of Romanesque architecture. There is a museum upstairs of archeological finds. There are cafes close-by for a much needed sit-down.
There's still time to go home for a siesta and shower, out again refreshed for supper.
First stop is usually the
in Figueres, followed by his house in
(Cadaques). This last has to be booked online and the museum ought to be also, to avoid queues. Added to these is the medieval
(near Flaça, and on the fantastic medieval villages cycle route), where Gala lived in the 1970's.
To this i would add 2 more 'sites'!
Mountain Sanctuary just outside Girona, again a popular cycle route, where the couple got married late in their relationship and last but not least,
Can Manolo's Restaurant
, in Girona, where they held their reception. Make sure you ask to be in the old part of the restaurant to get the full atmosphere (though the food is equally wonderful in the extension looking over the river).
While you're in Figueres you can visit the
ant Ferran Castle
, where Dalí did his military service and
Plaça de la Palmera
where he had a second home. On leaving Figueres look for the
Molí de la Torre
, a property which belonged to the Pitxot family and where Dalí learned to paint.
The best introduction to Girona is to go to Plaça Catalunya, 5 minutes walk from the apartment, and from there start the walk around the old wall of Girona (la Muralla). The views are magnificent and you will get your bearings. You look down on the old town and in the distance might see snow in the Pyrenees.
Sometimes, about half way along, the door in one of the towers is closes and you have to retrace your steps. If so, find time if you can to go to the beginning of the other end of the wall, to be found near Sant Felix Church (Plaça de Sant Domenec) where you get another wonderful perspective on Girona old town and also some gardens to visit.
The question is, which Wall? There's the Roman one, the Carolingian or Medieval one, (that's the one described above) and then there's the Vauban-inspired fortifications on the left side of the Onyar river (following the Jaume I road). This last one is a guided tour from the Tourist office, and i shouldn't comment, never having done it, but it seems strange, as there is almost nothing left to see of it. It is extremely interesting if you can compare the present buildings with the old postcards of how it used to be, but as a walk, it is not pretty.
There are also lots of unkempt fortifications on the Montjüic mountain, which you can walk up or get the bus, but it's not a scenic walk at all. If you're interested though, i'll post more information about them.
The Roman Wall
Again which one? The first Roman walls of Gerunda, from 80-70BC, were surrounded by the 4 rivers - the Güell, Ter, Onyar and Galligants. They were built on the strategically positioned via Heràclia, later called via Augusta, by the Roman General Gneu Pompeu Magne.
Then there were late 3rd century AD Roman walls which followed the same route. So it's the same thing as far as a walk goes.
To tell the difference, look at the stonework. If you see large blocks of irregular or polygonal numulitic stone (Girona stone with little round fossils), it's from the original Roman wall. If you find large rectangular sandstone blocks (yellow), it's 3rd century.
Girona was founded by the Romans, despite being on the side of a hill, to defend the north south Via Heracles/Augusta route to Cadiz.
That's all you're getting for now. Here's the route:
From the bottom end of the Rambla, c/ Argenteria, c/ Ballesteries, Pujada de Sant Feliu, pass Sant Feliu (Catalan)/Sant Felix (Spanish) church, don't go to the Cathedral, continue following the towers around the back of the cathedral, passing the Arab baths, going through the Jardins d'Alemanys, arriving at the Torre Gironella ruin - the highest point of the town. From here you continue along the top of the wall, going down to Torre del Telègraf. At this point go through the gateway underneath the tower and away from the university car park. You can see the Church of Sant Domènec and the university in front and the wall continues down on your right. Pass the church into the Plaça Sant Domènec (nice cafe under the tree shade, from where you can contemplate the Torre Rufina on the left).
Follow the steep steps down pujada Sant Domènec and turn right when you can to see the wall continuing up Escola Pia. You then retrace your steps a little to continue down to the Plaça del Correu Vell, where there used to be the 11th century Castell de Girona (no sign now). Only c/ de la Força in the Jewish quarter is left to do - the old cardo maximus of Gerunda.You are almost at your starting point here, once again. This encloses the 'Força Vella' and is the original Roman wall route, though with later Carolingian (9th-10th century) and medieval (14th century) on top.
There are 3 visits you could add to the above to see most of Roman Girona.
1. In Sant Feliu/Felix church there are 8 white marble, Roman sarcophogi, mostly from early 4th century. They were found when the church was being built, in a necropolis along the via augusta/cardo maximus, outside the northern gateway to the city.
2. In Sant Pere Galligants church, there is the Archeological Museum which includes sepulcres from the mercadal necropolis ('el mercadal' was the town market situated at the bottom of the cathedral steps - just outside the Jewish 'call' or quarter.
3. In the Museum of History of Girona, c/ de la Força, there is the
Mosaic of Can Pau Birol (3rd century).
Here is the map of all the connecting cycle touring routes from the same site
Here is the Empordà website, also very good.
See website - thegarrotxa.com
Sant Andreu de Porreres (Olot)
Sant Marti d'el Clot
Sant Miquel de la Torre (Olot)
Sant Andreu de Socarrats (Olot)
Sant Llorenç d'Oix
Sant Miquel del Mont (Olot)
Santa Maria de Jonqueres (Beuda)
Santa Maria de Seguero (Beuda)