If I say “Catalonia”, which city will come to your mind? “Barcelona” is the answer that most of the people would say. However, I am going to introduce you another city, not far from Barcelona, although. Girona is also one of the most important cities in Catalonia. Located in the north-east of Spain, this city has increased its popularity during the last year. Why? A big part of the sixth season of Game of Thrones has been recorded here. Before this happened, there weren’t many tourists in the city. Since then, you can easily be stopped by a tourist asking you “where is the cathedral of Game of Thrones”. This event has had a huge impact in the city. However, Girona is more than Game of Thrones. Let me show you why.
With around 100.000 inhabitants, Girona is not that big. In my opinion, this makes it even more beautiful. It is not a bustling city and you can go everywhere walking, allowing you to enjoy the cobbled streets (it is not recommended to wear heels!). The city is divided in two parts by the river Onyar. On one side of the river, there is the new part of the city where you can go shopping. On the other side of the river, there is the ancient part of the city called “Barri Vell”. This is the most beautiful part of Girona. The cobbled streets, the picturesque and unique shops, the terraced cafés and restaurants… There is nothing better than having a walk through those streets with the smell of coffee.
I believe the best way to get to know Girona is walking without any map. In this way, you will enjoy more the city. For me, the monuments that everyone should visit are:
- The cathedral. The main monument of the town. Its construction begun in Romanesque style and continued in the 13th century in Gothic style. It is the tallest point in the city and it is preceded by a large staircase.
- The Jewish quarter, one of the best maintained in the whole Europe.
- The Arab Baths, inspired by Roman Baths.
These are the places that everyone visits. But now I will tell you my favourite place in Girona: Els Jardins dels Alemanys or The German Gardens! Located in the heart of the Old Town, these gardens are like a piece of peace in the middle of the city. If you want to have time for yourself, you need to go there. It is awesome going there on a Sunday afternoon, just yourself and a good book.
There are many places where you would find breath-taking views. For example, if you are walking through the wall that crosses the whole Old Town, you will enjoy a stunning view of the whole city.
Moreover, to cross the river by its bridges is quite magnificent. The most beautiful ones are the Stone Bridge and the Iron Bridge, the last one built by the well-known architect Gustave Eiffel. There you will find the perfect sunset picture.
Influenced by Mediterranean culture, the gastronomy in Girona is quite important. There are a lot of different restaurants, with a large variety of dishes and prices. For me, the most particular ones are:
- El Celler de Can Roca: operated by the Roca brothers, it got the “Best Restaurant Award” in 2013 and 2015. They serve traditional Catalan cuisine combined with the creativity that makes it the best restaurant in the world nowadays. Of course, not everybody can afford eating there (the waiting list is quite large too), so there is also the possibility to eat at Can Roca restaurant (operated by the parents) where for a reasonable price you can enjoy the food of Roca’s family.
- Related to Roca’s family we have Rocambolesc, their ice cream shop. There you can find delicious home-made ice creams with really particular flavours and toppings.
- El Bistrot. The special fact of this restaurant is its location. Its terrace is situated in a tiny square, in one of the streets with stairs in the ancient part of the city. For its location, this terrace was named “the most romantic place” in Spain years ago. So it’s a good place to enjoy with your partner on Valentine’s Day.
- Crepdequè. This place may not be the most famous, but for me they make the best pancakes in the city!
It is impossible to name it all, but also there are a lot of picturesque bars, cafés and restaurants where you can have a great time while enjoying a wonderful view of the river.
As every city, Girona has its own legends and traditions. We have a really funny tradition that you should know in case you come here! There is a place called El cul de la lleona (it means, literally, the female lion’s butt), where you can find a small statue of a female lion. The tradition says that when you visit Girona for the first time you have to go there and kiss the lion’s butt. If you do it, it means that you will come back!
One of the most important events in Girona is Girona Temps de Flors. For more than sixty years, each May the city is all covered up by flowers. The monuments, the streets… everything is covered up by flowers. It is a special event where everybody gets involved with it: restaurants elaborate special menus with flowers, shops decorate their store window and kids make manual arts. During the whole week everything is about flowers.
In a nutshell
There are plenty of activities to do in Girona the whole year. Also, we are close to Costa Brava’s beaches, perfect for the summer time. To conclude, I would say that Girona is something else than the city where Game of Thrones was recorded. For me, it is a city easy to fell in love with, because as we say: Girona m’enamora!