This is a perfect place to linger in, wander around the twisted streets of El Call, spend the afternoon reading a book over a coffee near the cathedral with the widest Gothic nave in the world. You can have a great lunch and some serious hunting for unique clothing in the numerous chic boutiques by young Spanish designers.
Despite the Spanish Expulsion in 1492, much of the medieval heart of the city (the old Jewish quarter) has been gracefully preserved and surrounded by modern Spanish architecture. The river promenade, lined with red and ochre buildings, holds a real gem – Casa Maso is a place not to be missed. It is one of the most important works of the architect Rafael Maso and the only of the famous Onyar houses to be open to the public.
Girona is called ‘the city of a thousand sieges’ thanks to the fact that it reputedly withstood many invasions by Napoleon’s troops, survived the Moorish stronghold and many other past storms in its turbulent history.
The pulse of the city is slow but persistent. Girona is small, compact, well-mannered, elegant and very stylish, yet lively minded. It is a perfect mix of coolness and restraint that reminds one so much of the northern cities, yet with a typical Mediterranean spirit.
Distinctly Catalan, it is a fully grown place where the master thrills are modest ones, such as listening to good, live music…or having a coffee while overlooking the river and admiring the fantastic views across the city and the Pyrenees from the ramparts and watchtower of the Carolingian walls, the so-called ‘la muralla’.
Although Girona boasts a hodgepodge of architectural styles, from Romanesque and Gothic to modernism, the overall impression is of an extremely well-preserved medieval city despite the tremendous baroque Cathedral, the Romanesque cloister, many Gothic churches, the Arab Baths and buildings from the Middle Ages along the river.
A perfect recipe for “Girona Pie” is a walk in ‘la Forca Vella’, a coffee break at L’arc Cafe, a stroll over the river and a visit to Casa Maso and some chi chi galleries nearby. It tastes as delicious as it sounds!