The city of Girona is a heralded part of the northern Catalonian region of Spain, with a voluminous history that is well represented throughout its streets and surrounding areas. It has gained more and more attention throughout the years due in part to its close proximity to Barcelona and also because of the various sights that can be seen there. In this article, you’ll find eight of the best things to do while visiting this historic city.
1. Arab Baths
This ancient complex is a direct representation of the influence by the Moorish Empire which once occupied the entirety of Spain for close to 800 years. Nestled in a Capuchin convent within the city center, the Arab Baths are a preserved vision of architecture from the striking vaulted entrance to the detailed slim columns about the bath in the interior chamber. Stepping inside, one gets a feel for the tranquility that still remains a part of the Arab Baths.
Address: Carrer de Ferran el Catòlic, s/n, 17004
Website: Arab Baths
2. Girona Cathedral
Also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona, the Girona Cathedral is the main seat of the area’s Roman Catholic Diocese. The religious structure had its beginnings as far back as before the Islamic occupation of Spain, and went from being a mosque back to a church once the city was taken over by Charlemagne’s forces in 785. The cathedral was then constructed and added to well into the 1800’s. It sits squarely in the middle of the Forca Vella, with its façade a mix of Romanesque and baroque architectural influences. One key highlight lies in the Gothic nave inside, which stands as the largest of its kind worldwide.
Address: Plaça de la Catedral, s/n, 17004
Website: Girona Cathedral
3. Rambla de la Libertad & The River Onyar
Running through the heart of the city of Girona parallel to the Onyar River is the Rambla de la Libertad. This walkway stemming from the historic center was conceptualized and built in 1885 by noted architect Marti Sureda. Visitors will be taken with the sweeping arches that can be found along the Rambla and the variety of the restaurants and boutiques that dot the expanse. Taking the 90-minute walk will give you a greater appreciation for the way that the city has made the most of the rolling landscape it sits on. It also lets travelers soak in the beauty of the way that the Onyar river winds through Girona with a number of well-preserved bridges like the Eiffel bridge which has joined both banks for centuries and allows for greater mobility through the city by foot.
Rambla de la Libertad & The Onyar River
Website: Rambla de la Libertad
4. Museum of Jewish History
The city of Girona’s culture is strengthened partly by the long-term presence of the Jewish community in the Catalonia region, which made significant contributions in the areas of science in the medieval era all the way through to the times of the Spanish Inquisition when the Jewish communities were forcibly expelled from the Iberian peninsula. The Museum of Jewish History is an edifice that preserves and highlights that history in full, with arriving guests being able to partake in exhibits and events that cover the various periods of the culture in Girona and the surrounding area. Notable exhibits that are permanent give visitors a look at how the former Jewish Quarter of the city used to look through displays and replicas with detailed infographics, and include artifacts dating back to the days of the Roman Empire.
Museum of Jewish History
Address: Carrer de la Força, 8
Website: Museum of Jewish History
5. Lake Banyoles
A short distance from Girona within the Pla de L’Estany province sits the stunning Lake Banyoles adjacent to the town it takes its name from. The lake borders another town named Porqueres, and it’s the largest natural lake in the entire Catalonia region with a shore length close to 6 miles. Lake Banyoles gained a global air of recognition thanks to being the site for all of the rowing competitions held during the Summer Olympic Games that took place in Barcelona in 1992. The lake is highly popular still with those who enjoy rowing as well as swimming and fishing.
Address: Province of Girona
6. Passeig de la Muralla
Sometimes cities are best seen at a different vantage point, and in Girona history has provided a great one in the walls that issue throughout the city’s historic district. They’re accessible thanks to a walkway that follows along their placement among the city blocks. The walls themselves stand out as being among the longest such structures to be found on the European continent, with some structures being dated as far back as the 9th Century. There are various towers at certain points that give visitors a chance to get a look at the sweeping range of the city day and night.
Passeig de la Muralla
Website: Passeig de la Muralla
7. Sant Pere De Galligants Archaelogical Museum
This former Benedictine abbey is where the Archaeological Museum of Girona now resides. First built in 992, the abbey structure was originally located outside of the city walls until it was relocated in the mid-1300’s. The museum, which was first known as the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts and Antiquities, settled there in 1857 and became part of the larger Archaelological Museum of Catalonia in 1992.
Sant Pere De Galligants Archaelogical Museum
Address: Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 8
8. The Basilica and Cathedral of San Felix
This grand church and basilica has stood since the earlier periods of the Christian faith. It was the main church of Girona until the construction of the Girona Cathedral in the 10th Century. Visitors that cross the bridge over the Onyar River and the Eiffel Bridge will delight at seeing its bell tower stand high above the grounds. The basilica is also notable in that it holds a good number of artworks which include sarcophagi that go back as far as the 4th Century along with different sculptures and tapestries.
The Basilica and Cathedral of San Felix
Address: Carrer Trasfigueres, 4, 17004
Enjoying Girona's Graces
Those who have an affinity for the past will be well satiated on a trip to Girona. From pastoral gems in and around the city to the well-cared for relics of cultural and religious nature, Girona’s aura smacks of tradition and old-world charm. A visit here is a treat for those who want a different view of Spain with all of the grace and pride that exemplifies its people.
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