Have you already enjoyed a Barcelona holiday and are looking for somewhere new to explore in Catalonia? How about Girona? Located to the Northeast of Barcelona, the stunning city of Girona is home to one of the world’s best preserved Jewish quarters, known locally as ‘El Call’, and transports you back in time, through a true labyrinth of narrow medieval streets which wind throughout the city.
Girona’s Jewish quarter is believed to
date from the year 982, although it is understood to have not become an
established community until 1160. There is a dark yet fascinating history here,
in such beautiful surroundings, and many have compared the beauty of Girona to
Old Town Jerusalem.
Today, like many locations in
Barcelona, Girona’s Jewish quarter is a real mix of old and new. While the
stone walls and cobbled streets still remain, there has been an influx of bars,
restaurants, and shops which have helped to rejuvenate this old district and
make it a top destination for visitors to Spain.
Jewish Quarter Highlights
There’s lots to see and do in Girona’s Jewish quarter, but the main attraction for many is the Museum of Jewish History. The museum highlights Catalonia’s Medieval Jewish communities, and features glazed ceramics from the 12th century, bronze and silver artifacts recovered from the Montjuïc area, and even a miniature replica of the Jewish quarter! Maybe you could spot your Spain villa within the model? Another interesting activity in Girona is to visit the Mikvah; the Jewish ritual baths which were only discovered a few years ago, and excavated to become yet another great attraction in this historic city.
Staying in Girona
A Spain vacation rental close to Girona’s Jewish quarter is the perfect choice for anyone interested in history, architecture, or simply great photo opportunities. There’s a very strong community feel here, which makes Girona’s Jewish quarter a great place to stay; it’s warm, welcoming, and truly fascinating.
To see a city completely draped in flowers, with aromas as pleasant as the rainbow of colours, head to Girona! The Temps de Flors festival has been taking place every year since 1954, and each year the city transforms into a floral paradise. The festival occurs annually in May and lasts for about one week, so to catch this spectacular festival, plan your Spain holiday with one of our vacation villas in Girona.
What to See
The beauty of the flower festival is that you never know what’s around the next corner. From displays arranged by local children to designs that have clearly been the result of very intricate planning, there’s all sorts of arrangements to enjoy. Your vacation rental in Spain may even be decorated for the event! While there are amazing blooms to see all around Girona, it is said that there are 10 ‘essential’ places that you simply must see when you visit Girona during the festival, including the following:
● St Nicholas Chapel – one of the city’s oldest churches
● Plaça dels Jurats – a historic square
● Arab Baths – Roman hot spring spa
● Sant Feliu – a gothic cathedral
● The Cathedral – large cathedral and museum
● St Luke’s Church – near the main cathedral, in the Old Town
● Sant Martí – a 17th-century baroque convent
● The Sarraïnes Building – an old building near the Arab Baths
● Casa Lleó Avinay – a small house and museum in the Jewish Quarter
● Jardins dels Alemanys – spacious German gardens
Where to Stay
Prices can rise during the festival, but it’s still possible to get a good deal. Instead of booking a popular hotel, why not try something different and choose a family villa in Spain? Girona is also not too far from Barcelona – 1.5 hours by car – so a Barcelona accommodation is also a great option.
The Costa Brava is located in the Province of Girona, and runs from the beautiful Catalan town of Blanes all the way up to the French border. The towns along the Costa Brava were once mostly sleepy fishing towns, but things are very different today. Starting in the 1950s, many luxury resorts and Costa Brava vacation rentals were built in the region, especially around the seaside towns of Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar, making the Costa Brava a top tourist destination for those looking for a trio of sun, sea, and sand.
The “Rough Coast”
‘Costa Brava’ translates as ‘Rough Coast’, and gets its name from Catalan journalist Ferran Agulló who remarked on the coast’s raw, rugged scenery and jagged shoreline. Unlike the Costa Dorada, which boasts a fairly neat, clean coast, the Costa Brava is made up of steep, rocky cliffs and natural features which result in its bays, inlets, coves, islands, and peninsulas. Photographers are often known to rent a villa on the Costa Brava to capture this stunning and unusual look.
Sights & Scenery
The scenery on the Costa Brava is quite the mix. From your villa on the Costa Brava you may see white sand beaches or wild marshland; lakes or tropical gardens; historic castles and fortresses or protected nature reserves with all sorts of flora and fauna. Blankets of beaches cover Platja d’Aro, fascinating rock formations rise at Palamós, and a beautiful harbour cuts into Llafranc. There are even three separate and distinct lush green natural parks; Cap de Creus Natural Park, Montseny Natural Park, and Aiguamolls de l’Empordà.
Choosing a villa with pool on the Costa Brava is an excellent choice for those who love nature and spending time in the great outdoors. The town of Blanes is also just an hour’s drive from Barcelona, so it’s ideal for a multi-centre holiday, blending city life with more rural, back-to-nature living.
A number of fascinating events took place in Spain in the year 1492: Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain to discover the Americas, the Moors were overthrown in their ruling of Granada and many forced to convert to Christianity, and until 1492 Girona was home to Catalonia’s second most important Jewish community, which encompassed one of the most vibrant Jewish quarters in Spain. Take a trip from your Catalonia villa rental and explore one of the most overlooked cities in Spain and discover its treasures for yourself.
Historic Museum of the Jews
There are many remnants of the Jewish heritage today which can be found in the Historical Museum of the Jews in Girona, this shows the persecution of a race as they were almost forced out of Spain, it also documents the life and rituals of the ancient community in addition to Girona’s contribution to medieval medicine and astronomy.
The splendid architecture of Girona Cathedral alone is worth taking time away from your Spain holiday rental to visit. It is flanked by an intricately designed Baroque façade, however, the Cathedral is in fact more ancient. It was built over parts of the old Roman Forum and parts of the structure date as far back as the 5th century. There is a wonderful Romanesque cloister which transports the visitor back to the 12th century, the entire Cathedral is a masterpiece and very interesting to explore. Don’t miss out on viewing the silver altarpiece covered with vibrant gemstones portraying the life of Christ, and the Tapestry of the Creation.
Museum of Art
Close to the Cathedral and the Jewish Heritage museum is the Museum of Art. Here, day trippers or visitors will find over 8500 works of art, mainly deriving from this area of Catalonia. They range from spectacular stained glass tables to the sculptures of Rafael Masó i Valentí.
Museum of Cinema
For lovers of the silver screen, visitors to Girona must take a trip to the Museum of Cinema. It tells the story of why humans wish to indulge their imagination, as well as a tour of how the Camera Obscura was invented, you can view a myriad of optical illusions using masterful trickery and light.
In addition to the above attractions, Arabic Baths, contemporary pintxo bars and restaurants and the beautiful 11th century Romanesque Benedictine Monastery are well worth taking time out of your Costa Brava vacation rental to see while visiting the city of Girona.
Platja d’aro – S’agaró is a wonderful Costa Brava beach location surrounded by natural beauty. It’s the perfect base for exploring the Cap de Creus Natural Park, visiting the medieval city of Girona or the modern treasures of the Dalí Museum in Figueres.