At just over an hour from the Villa, a trip to the stunning city of Barcelona is a must. Whilst the city is both modern and cosmopolitan in nature, it has a rich history in architecture and the arts and is dominated by the exquisite Gaudi architecture that is found throughout the city.
Regardless of the many impressive works from the Romanesque and Renaissance periods, it is Gaudi’s Modernism which attracts millions of visitors to Barcelona. The magnificent works of Catalonia’s favourite son were created well before their time and you might consider dedicating much of your time in Barcelona to visiting a selection of Gaudi buildings including the unfinished Sagrada Família Cathedral, and Parc Güell in the north.
Slightly more unusual, but still a ‘must’, is a tour of FC Barcelona’s ‘Camp Nou’ Stadium. Your first view inside the stadium is likely to take your breath away – with a seating capacity of 99,354 it is the largest stadium in Spain and Europe and the second largest association football stadium in the world, in terms of capacity. On the 1st July 2009, U2 chose it as the opening venue for their ‘360° Tour’
Cadaques – Home of Salvador Dali
Situated right on the Cap de Creus peninsula, a short but highly memorable drive around from Roses, Cadaqués is one of the most symbolic places on the Gironese Costa Brava. Its rocky coast, fringed by beautiful beaches and quiet coves, forms one of its main attractions, together with the incredible landscape offered by the Cap de Creus Natural Park.
Salvador Dalí once said in 1920: “I have spent a delightful summer, as always, in the perfect and dreamy town of Cadaqués. There, alongside the Latin sea, I have been quenched by light and colour”. Facing the sea at the head of a crystal clear bay, Cadaqués was also a favourite of Pablo Picasso, who was likwise drawn to the area’s incredible light and sea breezes. Dalí often visited here in his childhood and later kept a home in Port Lligat, a small bay next to the village. Other notable artists are Mei Fren, who was the first artist to live in Cadaqués, together with Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Antoni Pitxot and Henri-François Rey. Melina Mercouri and Maurice Boitel also spent time here.
Today, Cadaqués remains a favourite spot for artists and is popular with weekenders from Barcelona and visitors from farther afield. The town has been developed carefully over the years and retains its charm. Most who discover it return for seconds. Why not combine a trip to Cadaqués with a visit to Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí at nearby Figueres.
Peratallada and Pals
Peratallada is a gorgeous medieval town set in the rolling fields of the Baix Empordà. Its name is derived from perda tallada, meaning ‘carved stone’ and many of the narrow streets and building foundations in this town are just that, literally carved right into the natural rock.
The town is beautifully kept and strolling around its cobbled streets you can admire a whole range of well-preserved buildings whose origins date back to pre-Roman times. In fact, there are some very ancient ‘Pompeii-looking’ cart ruts worn deep into one of the stone roadways. There is an excellent choice of restaurants particularly in the square, as well as a number of hidden gems dotted around the side streets.
Perched right on top of a hill, a few kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, lie the medieval streets of Pals, declared an Historic Artistic Site. In the Gothic quarter pretty cobbled streets flanked by aristocratic houses await you.
Pals beach completes a visit to either of these fascinating walled towns.