Girona

November 16, 2006 at 6:13 pm 1 comment

Today we got out of bed at 6:00 to catch the train to Girona. Alex and I have wanted to go there since the summer and since Christine was here we decided to take her there. Girona is a very old city with a well preserved medieval section.

It has been established that a settlement has been on the site of Girona since 500 BC. The Romans built a fort there, which was given the name Gerunda. The city was held Visigoths , Moors and finally, Charlemagne, who in 785 made it one of the fourteen original countships of Catalonia. The 12th century saw a flourishing of the Jewish community of Girona, with one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in Europe. The Rabbi of Girona, Moshe ben Nahman Gerondi was appointed Great Rabbi of Catalonia. Girona had a strong Arab presence for several hundred years following the Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula in 711. The first reference to Jews in Girona dates from 898, and they stayed until they were expelled with Muslims — or forced to convert — under the 1492 edict of expulsion. Today, the Jewish ghetto or Call is one of the best preserved in Europe and is a major tourist attraction.

On the north side of the old city is the Montjuïc (or hill of the Jews in medieval Catalan), where an important religious cemetery was located. Girona has undergone twenty-five sieges and been captured seven times. It was besieged by the French royal armies under Marshal Hocquisicourt in 1653, under Marshal Bellefonds in 1684, and twice in 1694 under de Noailles. In May, 1809, it was besieged by 35,000 French Napoleonic troops under Vergier, Augereau and St. Cyr, and held out obstinately under the leadership of Alvarez until disease and famine compelled it to capitulate, 12 December. Finally, the French conquered the city in 1809, after 7 months of siege.

Girona was left in a bad way after the Spanish Civil War with buildings destroyed by the Franco forces air attacks. Churches were looted by anti-clerics and priceless antiquities lost forever. The cruellest suffering was reserved for the people: deaths, executions by firing squads, families dispersed, accusations between neighbours …… it was obligatory to pass through Girona on the way to exile and the city’s inhabitants watched the painful march towards the French border. It was a period of brutal repression. In recent years, the remaining parts of the eastern city walls were reconstructed and now the Passeig de la Muralla forms a tourist’s walking route around the old city.
We caught the train at 7:50 and arrived in Girona at around 9:00. From the train station we walked to the tourist information kiosk on the other side of the river. Of course we stopped on the bridge to take in some sights.

After getting our maps we started out to the archives building. Alex was going to do some research there until 1:00 in the afternoon. Christine and I left her to her work and meandered throught the narrow streets towards the cathedral. At every turn was a photograph just waiting for us.

Christine and I just wandered aimlessly through the narrow streets taking photos.

Actually, we were making our way up towards the cathedral.

Just behind this intersection is a restaurant, La Bistro, where we stopped for lunch. Great food.

Still heading up along the narrow alleys…….

Looking into some of the alcoves along the way revealed another world. You could look behind and see the narrow alleys that are roads and in front, peaceful alcoves leading to interior living quarters.

We finaly arrived at the Cathedral. Going upo the last set of steps to the cathedral gave us this view.

The centerpiece of Girona is the vast Gothic cathedral with its Baroque facade poised above an imposing staircase. The site has long been an area of worship with a mosque and synagogue once occupying nearby ground.
Building was begun in 1292 and much of the structure dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The belltower is Romanesque and the aisleless Gothic nave is one of the world’s widest at 75 feet.

But the cathedral is only one of the ancient churches. Sant Feliu is another and is close to the cathedral. Here is a view of it’s spire.

Looking at some of the homes in this area revealed just how old they were. This doorway was constructed in 1712. I wonder how many people have entered here.

This India curio store had a great window display………..

We had walked a fair amount and felt like stopping for a cortado. We found this little hideaway on C. del la Forca and it was a true mind massage, very, very peaceful.

It was a great day but I have to go back. I am not pleased with the photos I took given the opportunities and the potential that Girona has to offer.

Entry filed under: Alan's Blog, Blog, Catalan, Churches, General Medieval, History, Random, Restaurants, Spain, Train, Uncategorized.

Friday to Monday (Nov 10 to Nov 13) Lalique

1 Comment Add your own

  • […] After the work at the archives was done, we went out for lunch and took the afternoon off to explore the city a bit. The old town of Girona is beautiful and considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The city is also considered the best place to live in Spain. We had been there before and you can see some pictures here. […]

    Reply

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