24 May 2019
From Blanes, the city of Girona was only an hour away by bus so we hopped aboard for our first trip inland for a long time.
Girona is an ancient walled city in northeastern Catalonia and its walls provide the perfect vantage point for getting your bearings, not to mention getting some exercise climbing up and down them!
We got great views of the city’s major landmarks
as well as into some very posh back gardens and across the Catalonian landscape.
At the top of the jumble of buildings of the old heart of Girona is the Cathedral with its 12th century bell tower and widest Gothic nave in the world
but it is its Baroque facade that gives you neck ache as you round the building and as you descend the steps in front.
Below the cathedral the old town’s dark streets lead to the Call Jueu, one of the most important and best preserved Jewish communities in Europe.
To learn some more about the city’s long established Jewish community we visited the Jewish Museum housed in one of the areas old houses.
Established in the 12th century, the Jewish community in Girona thrived until the evil rule of Isabel and Ferdinand, which we first learnt about back in Seville, saw them forced either to convert or leave Spain.
We were a little bit bemused to find Christopher Columbus (yes, him again!) celebrated in the garden of the Jewish Museum but later learnt that the expulsion of the Jews from Girona in 1492 coincided with his departure to discover the Americas and as he spent his childhood in Girona some say he was of Iberian Jewish origin. It is not surprising that, if he was, growing up during the Spanish Inquisition he might have concealed his true heritage.
From El Call we walked across the river Onyar via the bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel to the more modern parts of the city.
Catalonia has long been engaged in a fight for independence from Spain. The wealthiest area of the country has been semi-autonomous for years with its own language, parliament and flag. We have seen the flag flying too in the Balearics and Algehero, Sardinia, all historically Catalonian. This fight reached a peak in 2017 when a referendum in the region voted for independence from Spain. The referendum was declared illegal but feelings on the issue clearly still runs high in the area with the yellow ribbon and banners hung all over the buildings of Girona.
Whilst Stefan tried out one of Girona’s cafes I popped into the Cinema Museum. Going to the cinema is one of the things I miss most about this journey and so this helped scratch that itch. Brilliantly interactive displays told the story of the moving image from shadow theatre through to the camera obscura
to the motion picture.
I could have lingered longer amongst the icons of the silver screen but our minds were turning to a long crossing back to the Balearics…