When considering visiting Catalonia, most people only think of exploring Barcelona as a city. And that is a real pity since this community has other cities like Girona, full of Gothic and Romanesque buildings within its medieval old town, impressive city walls, one of the best preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe, and picturesque houses overlooking the river Oñar.
The beautiful city of Girona sits between Costa Brava and Barcelona. Both cities are well connected by trains and buses, and it is only an hour and a half drive from Barcelona. So, there are only reasons to visit this place and no real excuses. In this story, I will tell you about some of my favourite places to see in Girona. You can probably visit them all in one day trip, although I recommend spending the weekend or a at least a couple of days here to enjoy the city and its cuisine properly.
Girona is the capital of the province of the same name, with a population of around 100,000. Girona is located between the Pyrenees mountain range and Barcelona, from which it is approximately 100 kilometres away and only 60 kilometres from the French-Spanish border. Furthermore, the city is crossed by four rivers: Ter, Güell, Galligants and Oñar. This fact makes the city even more unique.
The river Oñar crosses the city dividing it into two parts, on the eastern bank is the "Barrio Viejo" and on the western bank is the "Barrio de Mercadal". Four bridges connect both quarters, and anyone who arrives in the city will be captivated by the views across them. One of my favourite bridges is the Eiffel Bridge (also known as Pont Palanques Vermelles or Pont Eiffel), a footbridge across the river made of impressive iron latticework.
Eiffel Bridge, GironaPuente de las Pescaderías Viejas, Carrer del Riu Onyar, 17004 Girona, España
The bridge was built and designed in 1877 by the famous Gustave Eiffel, the French engineer who went on to build Paris’s famous Eiffel Tower. The tower was made a bit later, in 1889, but it is easy to see the similarity in the design with the material and the latticework.
Eiffel Bridge is a great place to get views up and down the river of the Girona skyline and its popular picturesque, colourful houses. The view north, or down the river, is particularly beautiful as you can see the pretty houses of the medieval town, besides the towers of the cathedral and church.
The Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter inside the Força Vella (the city's first walled fortress) is one of the best preserved in the world. The history of the Jewish community in Girona dates back to the end of the 9th century, initially as isolated houses and then as an established community in the mid-12th century. The Jews were a very important community in Catalonia and many other parts of Spain. They were established in different towns until their expulsion in 1492, when the Catholic monarchs banned Judaism throughout the country. The Jews were given the option of conversion or exile.
Jewish Quarter, GironaCarrer de la Força, 8, 17004 Girona, España
The Jewish Quarter still possesses that medieval aura, and its maze of narrow alleys, courtyards, stone steps, charming old bookshops and charming restaurants are a great attraction for a stroll here. Walking through this part of the city is like going back in time.
Girona offers a wide range of medieval buildings to visit and admire, which have also been used as filming locations for one of the best series ever, Game of Thrones. If you want to learn about these places, considered the city's main symbols, please check my story on historical buildings used as filming locations for Game of Thrones.
When visiting Catalonia, do not forget to include Girona in your itinerary, the medieval gem of the community full of Gothic and Romanesque buildings. This amazing, charming city is a must, as well as its Eiffel Bridge and its well-preserved Jewish Quarter that will make you think you have travelled back in time.
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Helena Guerrero Gonzalez
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