Last Updated: March 2016
If you’re staying in Barcelona, but looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day, then a trip to one of the many beautiful cities surrounding the Catalan capital may be just the ticket. There are plenty of destinations to choose from, from magical Montserrat to serene Sitges, but one place that is well worth checking out is Girona! Situated around 100km north of Barcelona, the historic city of Girona has much to explore, from its ancient Roman foundations to its enchanting medieval buildings, as well as its famous Jewish Quarter.
Here, we give you all the top sights in Girona that should not be missed!
The Girona Cathedral, also known as the Catedral de Santa María de Girona, was built between the 11th and 18th centuries. It is an amazing structure to visit with beautiful Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture throughout. The main features to watch out for are the beautiful Baroque façade, the bell tower, named the Tower of Charlemagne, and the Door of the Apostles, which was finished in a Neo-Gothic design.
The nave of the Girona Cathedral is one that sets this religious structure apart from all the others. It is the largest nave in Spain, with a width of 22 meters, a height of 34 meters and a length of 50 meters, making it a pretty impressive sight.
The major altarpiece is in the middle of the nave and has a Romanesque design. Be sure to check out the Chapel of Sant Pere, accessible by the stairs, featuring important Catalan paintings and a retable by Pubol from the 15th century.
Another feature of the Cathedral that should not be missed is the 11th century Tapestry of Creation, a colorful textile masterpiece depicting stories and seasons.
The Jewish Quarter in Girona, also referred to as the Call Jeue, is one of the largest and best preserved in Europe. It is located just beside the Cathedral and is an area of narrow streets with stone steps, paved cobblestones, somewhat resembling a labyrinth. The main street is Calle de la Força and this was the center of trade during Roman times. For those who want to explore more of the Jewish presence, the Museum of Jewish History and the Museum of City History are well worth checking out. Keep your eyes peeled for the once famous Kabbalistic School, founded in Girona and the first of its type in Spain.
The Onyar River Front
While visiting Girona, a stroll along the Onyar River is a must. Here you’ll see the Cases de l’Onyar: traditional, brightly painted houses situated along the river banks. Be sure to wander across the several bridges that span the river, and look out for the padlocks on the Pont de la Princesa Bridge. Legend holds that couples who place a lock on this bridge and throw the key into the river are destined to be together forever!
Leona de Girona
In the heart of the Old Town, in Plaça de Sant Feliu, is a statue of a lioness climbing a pole, known as the Leona de Girona (The Lioness of Girona). It is believed that those who kiss the statue’s bottom will undoubtedly return to Girona.
If you’re looking to visit Girona in May, then you’re in luck as the whole city comes to life with colorful flower displays for the annual Girona Festival of Flowers. This floral exhibition transforms monuments, courtyards and urban locations into unique ornamental gardens – definitely one not to be missed! For more information on the dates of the festival, visit the Girona Temps de Flors website.
How to get to Girona: The most convenient way to get to Girona from Barcelona is by Renfe. Renfe trains run to and from the Barcelona-Sants station around every half hour. You could also opt to hop aboard an AVE high-speed train, which will get you to Girona in just over half an hour.
So, why not opt for a medieval escape in picturesque Girona, a perfect day trip from Barcelona. Whether you choose to mosey around the Jewish Quarter or marvel at the awe of the Cathedral, this city is a magical place to visit. There’s also plenty of fantastic places to shop and some top-notch eateries, meaning there is certainly something for everyone here!