Girona discover the tourist attractions, festivals, restaurants, cultural events
The city of Girona is located in the northeast of Catalonia, in northern Spain. It is the capital of the region of the same name, a vast territory made up of more than 200 municipalities, from the beaches of the Costa Brava to the Pyrenees Mountains. With about 100.000 inhabitants, Girona has all the charm and services of a large city but without crowds, and is characterized by its high life quality. The main economic activities are services (public administration, tourism, shopping…), although its surroundings support as well a considerable and diverse industrial activity, especially in the food and gastronomy sector. Girona’s University, with over 15,000 students, gives Girona as well all the dynamism and activity of a city with a university campus.Girona is a city on a human scale with all the charm of a larger city. Take a leisurely stroll through the old town, visit the museums and the historic buildings, wander through the streets and squares, and discover the tourist attractions, festivals, restaurants, cultural events, etc. Enjoy it at any time of year and, if you can, come back again and again! This lively city will always hold something in store to delight you.
WHAT TO SEE
Museum of Jewish History: An intriguing world. From the valuable collection of medieval tombstones from the Jewish cemetery of Montjuïc, to the reconstruction of the figure of the great kabbalist Nachmanides – Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman, or Bonastruc ça Porta to give him his Catalan name – the Museum of Jewish History presents a broad and surprising view of the Jewish people, which is vital to understand the history of Girona. In addition, the centre is located in one of the three historic synagogues of El Call Jueu. During August, the concerts held in the Patio de la Estrella (courtyard of the star) offer a real treat for the ears.
Calle de la Força: Calle de la Força was the Roman cardus maximus – the centre of commerce – and later became the main street of the Jewish Quarter. Today, in its medieval setting, we find both the Museum of Jewish History and the Museum of City History. In addition to the museums, all along the length of the street, from the monumental Portal de Sobreportas to the Plaza del Correu Vell, there are small ‘treasures’ to be discovered such as the mezuzah (the place on the right hand side of the door frame of Jewish houses where a parchment is traditionally placed) of the Placeta del Institute Vell.
Tapestry of the Creation: This eleventh century embroidered tapestry is one of the great treasures of Girona Cathedral. The many scenes Depicted include a Jewish couple, which have become the emblem par excellence of El Call. They occupy just a small space on this incredible work, but their classification as “iudei” (Jews) in this great epic of the Creation of the World is one of the oldest and most beautiful references to the Jewish people in the city.
Museum of City History: Located on the site of a former Capuchin convent, the City History Museum reserves a special corner of the long history of the city of Girona for the Jewish people. A visit to the exhibition rooms includes the opportunity to admire items of great value, such as the Roman Circus Mosaic, and also provides an overview of the city, home, for at least six centuries, to a Jewish community of wise and learned men.
Torre Gironella: In the romantic gardens of the former Caserna dels Alemanys in the highest part of the city, we still find the ruins of the Gironella Tower, where the Jews sheltered that fled the historic massacre of 1391. The legendary figure of Tolrana, the Jewess who preferred to die with her people rather than return to the side of her Christian husband, is still remembered here.
Church of Sant Feliu: The extraordinary Paleochristian and Roman tombs located in the church presbytery testify to the ancient roots of this sacred place. Built in honour of the martyr Sant Feliu, here the remains of Saint Narcis, the patron of the city of Girona, are also venerated.Cinema Museum:An intriguing and surprising museum full of curiosities that traces the history of motion pictures from their origins to the present day.
WHERE TO EAT
Simply mentioning El Bulli, Ferran Adria’s restaurant, considered world number one or, again without straying beyond the city limits, another such notable as El Celler de Can Roca, will give a fair idea of the Extraordinary quality of Girona cuisine. However, this city of four rivers – the Ter, the Onyar, the Güell and the Galligants – has many other restaurants that, while not reaching quite the same level of international fame, will more than satisfy discerning diners. Here are some of them, including those closest to the Jewish Quarter.
How to arrive
Located midway between the sea and the mountains and close to France (65 km) and Barcelona (100 km), Girona boasts a privileged position. Girona is easily accessible by road, train and plane: the Girona-Costa Brava Airport is situated about 12 kilometers outside the city (offering good transport connections with the city centre), and offers since March 2012 a direction connection with Karlstad.