The medieval city of Girona bears historical roots in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures. Only 30 minutes by high-speed train from the Catalonian capital, this historical hub proves to be a true crossroads of religion and culture. In the company of an architect or historian, we’ll depart on an excursion from Barcelona to discover this historically rich city and to better understand why this small city makes such an impressive cultural impact.
Meeting our docent at the station in Barcelona, our introduction will start on the train, where the docent will put the social and cultural history of Girona into context, while exploring the pivotal role this city has played in the story of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. We will take the train nearly 65 miles up the Catalan coast, arriving at the city located at the confluence of the Ter, Onyar, Galligants, and Guell rivers. Upon arrival at the Girona station, we may take a taxi a short distance to the historic city center, or alternatively opt to navigate the residential streets by foot on the 20-minute walk to the fortified city. Once we have passed through the city gate and into the historic center, we will begin to trace the religious roots planted in Girona's cobbled streets.
In an attempt to uncover how Islamic culture influenced Girona, we may start with a visit to the 12th century Moorish bath. We’ll duck into the entryway to see the exceptionally preserved central pool covered by a cupola, and navigate our way through the ruins of the Bayns Arabs. We’ll then make our way through the Jewish Quarter, which was home to nearly 150 Jewish families until the expulsion in 1492. Today it remains very well preserved, containing a web of narrow medieval alleyways winding through the ancient Call. While navigating these serpentine streets, we may be on the lookout for mezuzas, or historic hollows in the doorframe in which prayers were placed.
From here, we’ll continue our route, climbing up to the Basilica of Sant Feliu, a prominent structure nestled into Girona’s old city. We may venture into the interior of the basilica, and discover a celebrated Aloi de Montbrai sculpture of a recumbent Christ, as well as 4th century early Christian and pagan sarcophagi. Continuing up the stoned pathways, we’ll arrive at la Catedral de Girona. An impressive structure featuring the hallmarks of varying architectural styles, this cathedral is home to the sacred chapel of Narcism, the patron saint of Girona, and to the magnificent 11th century Tapestry of the Creation, unanimously considered to be a true masterpiece of medieval artwork.
At this point we'll leave you (with tickets for your return to Barcelona) free to explore the rest of Girona on your own.
Please note: This excursion is fairly walking-intensive, and some sites in Girona are unfortunately not very wheelchair-accessible. Please contact us if you have mobility concerns and we would be happy to advise.