Girona in Spain is an ancient city full of attractions, with magnificent churches and palaces in the Romanesque style of the 10-12 centuries, and in museums you can see artifacts from ancient times, when Catalonia was a province of ancient Rome.
The grandeur and power of the Middle Ages and New Ages are forever preserved in the mansions and synagogues of the Jewish Quarter of Girona. This city is as if designed for those who love sightseeing in the old European towns.
History of Girona
The city was founded in the 1st century BC. and at first it was called Gerunda in the ancient Roman manner. At the time of the Iberians and later of the Romans, Girona was a significant military fortress, and was later mentioned in the wars with the Moors. The Moors owned it for the entire 8th century.
Charlemagne twice tried to save the city from the Moors, it changed hands several times. Eventually Girona was liberated, and became the capital of the county of the Frankish kingdom. At the end of the 9th century, the county of Girona became part of the county of Barcelona.
In the 14th-16th centuries, Girona was one of the richest cities in the western Mediterranean. There has always been a large Jewish community here. And in the middle of the 14th century, the city was struck by an epidemic of plague, then widespread in Europe.
Under Napoleon, Girona became part of France and later returned to Spain. Since the mid-19th century in the city began to rapidly develop industry, built houses, landscaped streets. Today it is a significant tourist center of Spain.
Top 10 attractions in Girona
We offer you a brief description of the sights of Girona with photos and strongly advise you to visit this city to actually enjoy its untold architectural beauty and listen to the guides about historical events.
These walls were built in the 1st century AD. at the time of the greatest prosperity of ancient Rome. This is a small part of the fortifications that were designed to protect the road from Eternal Rome to Spanish Seville.
Today, only a small ruined part of Girona’s fortress walls remains; it was restored in the 20th century. Near the fortress walls installed observation decks, from which you can see the Roman walls and the panorama of the beautiful city.
This is another great attraction of Girona and all of Spain. In the city, the first Jews settled in this very quarter of El-Kal in the 9th century, but were later expelled. Then the city’s poor lived in the Jewish Quarter.
Thanks to the fact that it has never been renovated, its houses and synagogues are preserved almost in pristine condition. Today, El Cal is home to a local bohemia near the cultural, architectural, and religious monuments of the Early Middle Ages.
It is one of the main squares of the city. In the Middle Ages there was the monastery of St. John the Baptist. Augustine, which belonged to the Catholic Augustinian order. Independence Square is surrounded by neoclassical mansions and sculpture colonnades.
Today it often hosts various public events, festivals, concerts, markets, sales, etc. There are restaurants with excellent cuisine, cafes, open pubs, and entertainment venues near the square.
The first temple on the site of this Catholic cathedral in Girona was built back in the 9th century. These were the dark times after Roman rule, so the temple was a pagan temple where the gods of ancient Rome were worshipped.
In the 14th century there was a church in the Gothic style, two centuries later its facade was rebuilt in the Baroque style. In the inner courtyard of the cathedral, preserved since the 12th century, you can examine the ancient cultural values and relics.
Museum of Jewish History
The museum has a substantial exhibit on the history and culture of the large Jewish community of Girona and all of Catalonia, where Jews have lived in a large diaspora since the Early Middle Ages.
The museum occupies eleven halls, each devoted to a specific Jewish theme: the Diaspora, the synagogue, the cemetery, etc. There is a detailed description of Jewish life, traditions, cults, rituals, etc.
These unique landmarks have been preserved in Girona as a reminder of Moorish rule. The baths were built in the 12th century under King Alfonso I, and are located in the Old Town, almost in the center of Girona.
The local Arab baths are characterized by architecture characteristic of similar structures in North Africa. At first they belonged to the king’s family, and in the 13th century they became available to all townspeople. Later the bathhouses became private property again.
This river runs through the center of Girona, and residents and visitors love to stroll along its beautiful promenade in the evenings. The embankment, as the center of any resort, built up with houses of the 17th century with spectacular facades.
Onyar promenade has long been a trademark of Girona. When visiting it, townspeople and tourists like to take a promenade and then sit for a long time in an open-air cafe or in restaurants with excellent Mediterranean cuisine.
Museum of Art
This is one of the main artistic attractions of Girona is located in the Bishop’s Palace, which was built in the 10th century. The palace was last rebuilt in the 16th century in the Renaissance style.
The museum’s collection includes just under 9,000 items. The most important artifacts of great artistic value from Roman times to the present day are collected here.
It dates back to the 10th century, its difference from similar buildings is that it worked for its intended purpose until 1976. It was not built especially for the bishop’s needs, the count’s palace was rebuilt. Remodeling occurred with enviable regularity, changing the proportions of the interior rooms, new wings and wings were added, the old ones were dismantled. The result is a building with distorted proportions and a wild mixture of styles. To complete the appearance, a prison tower for religious criminals was built nearby.
The building has now been handed over to the Museum of Art. Among the exhibits are very rare examples of church utensils, vestments, icons, crosses, chests for the storage of relics. Separate collections consisted of paintings from the Middle Ages, handwritten scrolls, books, tapestries and household items. The collection of paintings includes works by Juan de Borgoña, Modeste Urgell, Jaume Pons, Santiago Rusiñola, and Pelegrin Clave.
St. Dominic’s Monastery
Its construction began at the insistence of the local bishop, passed, a Dominican monk. The order preached asceticism and humility, so the influential and monumental monastery was, to say the least, not rich in interior decoration.
Construction began in the 13th century, but the bulk of the buildings were erected as early as the 14th. The monastery functioned until the 19th century, then survived the transformation into army barracks, when some of the buildings were demolished, then in its walls opened a restaurant. Finally, the building was handed over to the University of Girona and the Faculty of Arts was opened there. Medieval architecture is great for stimulating creativity and imagination.
The monastery has survived in an almost pristine state, avoiding major alterations in architectural style, and is considered one of the most striking examples of Catalan Gothic.
Tourist route through the city
Girona is a small city, the main attractions are in the historic center and not far from it, so you can walk around on foot and take your time seeing the most interesting objects.
The tourist route is sure to pass by:
- La Força Vella fortress:
- the boulevard of the fortress wall;
- Rambla de la Libertad;
- Independence Square;
- Museum of Jewish History;
- an exhibition devoted to the history of cinema;
- Gustave Eiffel Bridge.
Amazing discoveries await tourists at every step, so the walk will not be very long, but extremely rich in impressions.
Surroundings of Girona
Pastoral views attract walkers. According to locals, the best place to walk and immerse yourself in a peaceful state of mind was and still is Parque de la Devesa. On the territory of 40 hectares you can walk along shady paths, admire the old plane trees, the age of which is approaching 150 years, to hide from the heat. It is interesting to visit the Banana Grove, consider the rare plants of the Botanical Garden.
Girona sightseeing map
The map is fully interactive. You can zoom in and out of interesting objects.
Video overview of the sights of Girona
To find out what to see in Girona first of all, city guides or advice from tourists visiting the city for the first time will help. One of the oldest cities in Spain carefully preserves the evidence of the past. Girona attracts identity, medieval ambience of the historical center, the abundance of monuments of different eras and incomparable national cuisine.
How to get to Girona?
- On auto. If you rented a car for your vacation, you can easily take it from Barcelona to Girona. The distance between the cities on the highway is no more than 100 km, but there are tolls on the road (about €9). There are free roads along the beach.
- Train. You can get from Barcelona to Girona by train. The trains depart from the Barcelona train stations, and in each case Girona will not be the final station. It is better to look for medium-range passenger trains or electric trains. The ticket costs about €15.
- Bus. In Barcelona, there are special lines of “Barcelona Bass”. The bus runs from the North Station to Girona. It can also be reached by Sagales and Ryanair buses.
- Cab. If you get to Barcelona late, remember that from 10 pm to 7 am in Spain public transport does not work at all. You can only get there by transfer by cab (€150) or by rented car.