Girona for Free

After 24 hours of rain, I expect the city of Girona to be drowning, but the river which flows through the city is calm and the clouds have dissipated to leave clear blue skies.

There are many museums in Girona and the main ones offer a discount scheme so that after visiting the first one, the others are half price. But I only have one day and I don’t want to spend it all inside museums. So, I limit myself to just two.

DSCF1585I start with the Girona History Museum in the hope that it will offer me some good background information. It is spread over 4 floors of a former Capuchin monastery and a self-guided route takes me from the first Roman settlement, through medieval times, the Napoleonic War and the Spanish Civil War. There’s an interesting section about music and dance, as well as the Capuchin cemetery were the deceased friars were left to desiccate.

DSCF1633Just down the road, on the site of a Jewish Synagogue, is the Museum of Jewish History. In the late Middle Ages, up to 800 Jews lived in Girona. They worked in many trades, including goldsmiths, blacksmiths, tanners and tailors. Unfortunately, well before Hitler’s promotion of anti-Semitism, the Spanish Jews were persecuted by the Catholic Church. Those that did not agree to be baptised and renounce their Jewish faith were executed. The museum displays several stone tombs, including one which was rescued from a local garden, having been used as a fish pond.

DSCF1649Having a better understanding of the history of Girona, I wander down to the river and, from the pedestrian footbridge of Sant Augusti, I have a good view of the tall, terraced houses which overhang the water. I end up having lunch in one with a wonderful view of the Cathedral and Sant Feliu Church. I choose from the menu del dia and end up with a unusual assortment of dishes, not all good.

DSCF1683As the weather continues to bless me, I decide to walk the length of the city walls which stretch for over a kilometre around the eastern side of the city. They are very high and offer great views. I can clearly see the single towers of the Cathedral and Sant Feliu Church (in fact, they both look a bit lopsided, as if waiting to be completed) and beyond the red-tiled rooftops, the snow dusted peaks of the Garrotxa Volcanic Mountains.

DSCF1576For me, it seems criminal to charge entry to a holy place and it costs me €7 to visit Girona Cathedral. However, this also includes entry to Sant Feliu Church and a very good audio guide describing all the main features in some detail. Unfortunately, Charlemagne’s chair and silver canopy are hidden under scaffolding and cloth while they are being cleaned. The cloister is peaceful with each column capitol telling a biblical tale; Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and his ark. However, the best has been saved for last. Hidden behind a panel at the far end of the treasury is the Creation Tapestry, a masterpiece from the 11th or 12th century depicting scenes from Genesis.

creation tapestry 2

DSCF1721Sant Feliu Church also has some lovely features, detailed by another audio guide. A large marble chapel is dedicated to St Narcissus, the patron saint of the city. Above the silver casket containing the remains of the saint, is a large statue of him and on a side wall is a large painting depicting the miracle of the flies, when Sant Feliu saved the town from attack by the French in 1285 and 1653. Behind the main altar of the church, embedded into the walls, are eight 4th century Roman sarcophagi with detailed carvings of biblical stories and events.

DSCF1733Girona is a fantastic place to spend the day, especially if you are on a tight budget. Both the Museums I visited had free temporary exhibits which were equally as good as the main museums. Walking the walls is free, offers fantastic views of the city and some good exercise. Access to the Cathedral is free on Sunday and the Jewish Museum is free on the first Sunday of each month. There are many free car parks around Parc de la Devesa, if you don’t mind a short walk back into the city and, if you’re looking for somewhere nearby to spend the night in a motorhome, the then village of Quart has a nice, free Aire and the picturesque, medieval village of Besalu allows you to stay in their car parks for free.

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2 thoughts on “Girona for Free

  1. Brian Ritts

    I am enjoying very much your blog and have followed you and Trixy on many of your travels, Girona for Free, is no exception. I would like to offer a clarification on your account of the execution of the Jews of Girona.

    Although a great deal of persecution of Jews took place in what is today Spain and also Catalonia, where Girona is located. It is also true that no doubt deaths of Jews tragically occurred during what can be described as riots due to all kinds of causes. However “authorized” i.e. edicts of the Crown and or the Church in connection to the Crown such as the famous Inquisition that you mention, did not force Jews to convert or die.

    This may seem like a trifling issue but I have discovered a gross misconception of this issue which seems to have originated long ago and has come to be known generally as the Black Legend. Anyone reviewing modern historical scholarship (say within the last 10 to 15 years) will see that there is far more legend than truth in these characterizations.

    Trials of the Inquisition regarding religion were brought only against Christians; not against Jews or Moslems. It is true however that former Jews and or Moslems who had converted to Catholicism were tried, as were Protestants, and even tortured for heresy, but Jews and Moslems only if they were legally what was known as “conversos” i.e. Christians. It is also now known that it was a very rare occasion indeed that a “converso” or heretic was actually executed. The vast majority of the commonly referred to “executions” were in fact carried out by proxy or in effegy .

    The study of history is fascinating. You are now in the enviable position to “see” history. My wife and I expect to follow many of your footsteps next spring. Mean time we are enjoying your blog.
    Happy Trails,
    Brian

    Reply
    1. A Nomad Post author

      Hi Brian,
      Thank you for the detailed information about the Jewish history in Girona. The information in my blog is drawn from sources such as guide books, tourist information leaflets and museum displays and is therefore not always very detailed or accurate. Hopefully it inspires people to visit these places and discover more.
      Happy Travels,
      ANomad

      Reply

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