I was a guest of the Tourist Board and Punt de Benvinguda in Girona but all opinions and images are my own.
Girona, located about 100 km away from Barcelona, is an important visit in order to better understand the Catalonian region and history. Like many medieval cities, Girona has gone through several transformations and today exhibits Roman walls, Jewish quarters, an impressive Cathedral and several other small churches. Located at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell, Girona has been a hub, so to speak, for centuries.
Now the city of about 97,000 residents, a University and plenty of Catalonian charm is a popular day trip for visitors to Barcelona or the costal region of Costa Brava. My guide, Anna Aliu, is a native Gironian – a heritage many residents share – and was full of historical information about her beloved city. The whole tour, which took just under 3 hours, climbed through Girona’s narrow cobbled streets, through town squares across rivers and even along one of the Roman walls, just in time for a lovely, soft sunset.
Perhaps the most impressive structure in Girona is the Cathedral. Constructed on the the same site as the original cathedral, the current building is an excellent example of Spanish Gothic architecture. Be sure to climb the 80 steps in the front to admire the view from the top and poke your head inside the cathedral.
Be sure to take a walk along one of the ancient Roman walls. And don’t forget to look down! The stone under your feet contain the mark or signature of the ancient worker who laid it, thus insuring that they were properly compensated. Walks along the wall offer great views of the city and the Pyrenees Mountains.
In the 12th century Girona’s Jewish population swelled until 1492 when Jews were expelled by Catholic Kings from Catalonia. Today the old Jewish Ghetto is one of the most well preserved in the world. Located next to the Cathedral, the Jewish Ghetto, or Call, boasts narrow streets and corridors and a Jewish museum.
Getting to Girona:
By car – Located on the Autopista AP-7 and N-11, Girona is a major hub in the region.
By train – Located on the AVE line between Madrid and Paris, Girona is about 1 hour and 15 minutes by train from Barcelona.
By air – Girona’s airport is about 10 km away and is an European hub for Ryanair.