Location on the map of Barcelona & Catalonia (Spain)

Girona Spain and The medieval town of Besalu

While Spain’s southern and eastern coasts is popular with tourists and expats, there are many other hidden gems in many parts of Spain. Throughout all the regions of Spain, there are countless villages of immense beauty that ooze both charm and history.

This tour is a very good option if you want to see some nice Catalan medieval villages and a little bit of history. Luckily, the Spanish geography keeps many memories of the Middle Ages with its towns. These stand out for their impressive castles or the great walled enclosures or their beautiful cathedrals and monasteries.

MEDIEVAL TOWNS IN CATALONIA SPAIN

Barcelona is so wonderful, but there is a lot more to discover outside the city, especially in the wonderful medieval towns in Catalonia.

According to Devour Barcelona, these are the most beautiful medieval villages in Catalonia:

  • Peratallada

  • Pals

  • Besalú

  • Castellfollit de la Roca

  • Cadaqués

  • Siurana

  • Begur

  • Guimerá

Most of these medieval towns from Spain can be reached by car, because they are planted in the middle of the beautiful Catalan countryside. Besides, each can be fit into a day, so don’t doubt taking a day out to visit any of them!

Peratallada, medieval towns in Girona (Spain)

HOW TO GET FROM BARCELONA TO GIRONA BY TRAIN

Where is Girona?

Girona is a medieval city in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region, at about 100 km away from Barcelona. So often people make a trip to escape the crowds of the big city and it’s an especially popular pit stop for people traveling up to the scenic coastal region of Costa Brava. Girona is famous for its historic architecture and its well-preserved Jewish quarters.

There are no direct flights from Barcelona to Girona, so you can either get there by train (the fastest and most convenient way), by bus, or by driving.

The high-speed AVE train

The cheapest, fastest, and recommended way of transportation between Barcelona and Girona is to take the high-speed AVE train (the standard price is like $16). You can normally reserve a seat up to 90 days in advance.

Spain’s AVE trains travel all throughout the country at speeds of 193 miles (310 kilometers) per hour. This means that it takes about 37 minutes to get from Barcelona Sants – from which it departs every 38 minutes – to Girona’s main station.

Make sure you’re getting the AVE, because Renfe operates another train (Viajeros) that also goes to Girona, but takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.

KNOW THE MEDIEVAL SPAIN IN GIRONA: A CITY BETWEEN PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Nicknamed the City of a Thousand Sieges (due to all the invasions the city withstood), Girona is often passed over by travelers set on Barcelona or the coastal beaches.

Girona sits on the banks of the Onyar river, and is divided into an old and a new town area. The old town offers charm and history, while the new one shows cosmopolitan dining and shopping.

The Onyar river in Girona (Spain)
The Barri Vell, Girona’s historical center

Girona has a charm that wins one’s heart

The Barri Vell – Girona’s historical center – with its tiny streets climbing up the hill, is enchanting and holds in the main ancient monuments. There’s nothing better than wandering around, enjoying every corner, discovering unusual perspectives of the narrow alleys.

Girona is easily explored by foot and the Barri Vell (Old Quarter), also known as the Golden Triangle, is the best place to start your journey through time.

SEE THE ROMANESQUE AND GOTHICS STYLE BUILDINGS FROM GIRONA

Girona is well-known for its medieval history because it is one of the many medieval towns and cities in Costa Brava. But it also has a rich Roman past. The Força Vella Fortress was built by the Romans in the first century BC. It remained unchanged until the year 1.000, and today you can still see parts of the walled fortress.

The other fortified part is the Medieval Quarter, which was an extension of the Roman walls in the 14th and 15th centuries. With newer ramparts, you can see sections of them as you wander along the city’s walled walkways.

The Força Vella is Girona´s Cathedral

At the heart of the Força Vella is Girona´s Cathedral. Built between the 11th and 18th centuries, this place is unique because you can see a variety of different artistic styles. From the Romanesque tower and cloister to the baroque façade, the cathedral is a worthy visit to journey through the ages.

While in the Força Vella, a labyrinth of narrow streets will highlight your arrival in the Jewish Quarter of Girona. These alleys were home to Jews from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Still maintaining a lot of its medieval atmosphere, it is one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in the world and marks the importance of the culture in Girona.

Some staircases will lead you to the highest part of the city where you can enjoy the old city panoramas. Over time the city extended towards the river and a stroll across the water will transport you to the contemporary side of the city.

Enjoy the Jewish Quarter and Girona from Casa Cundaro

Casa Cundaro from Girona is the only Jewish House made for tourist accommodation. Located in the historical center of Girona, set in a traditional Jewish house, it features rooms and apartments with balconies. The Cundaro House is built around an attractive, interior garden.

Past, present and future join hands in this magnificent house full of history, magic and well-being.

Girona, the city medieval Spain

GAME OF THRONES TOUR IN GIRONA, SPAIN

Girona was chosen from among many other international candidates for the great conservation of its historical heritage and has become one of the privileged locations to host one of the most expensive series in the history of television: Game of Thrones.

In season six, viewers of the Game of Thrones series were transported to Girona’s medieval old town and this served as the major setting for the city of Braavos, where a blind Arya Stark was begging on the streets and was attacked by the orphan.

Romanesque and gothic buildings in Girona, Spain
Girona, Spain: Game of thrones tour
You can easily tour all of Game of Thrones Girona locations in a couple of hours or so. Guided by an expert, this tour will take your knowledge of the series to another level.

FROM BARCELONA TO BESALU: BEST ROUTE

How to get to Besalu?

The fastest way to travel to Besalu from Barcelona is by train, which requires on average 55 min of travel time. The distance is about 62 miles (100 km) from Barcelona to Besalu.

Cost of the journey

Before traveling from Barcelona to Besalu, it’s good to know what ticket you can purchase and how much it will cost. A train ticket for this journey costs on average $27 (€22) one way.

Online booking

But we recommend booking Barcelona to Besalu tickets online a few months before your planned travel date to score the best deals and save money on your trip.

BESALU DELVES YOU INTO MEDIEVAL TIMES

Besalu is a medieval town emerging charm, history and character. The wealth of the city can be seen in its Romanesque structures that are very elegant and beautiful.

Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Garrotxa region, the small town of Besalu is one of Catalonia’s most stunning medieval sites. Famous for its impressive Romanesque bridge and the vestiges of its Jewish past, Besalu’s rich history makes it a perfect day-trip destination which can be easily accessed from Girona or Barcelona.

There are traces of settlements in the area since the Roman era. The name Besalu itself is thought to derive from the Latin bisuldunum, meaning ‘fort on a mountain between two rivers’ and it refers to the ancient castle which is believed to have stood on the site in the 10th century.

Besalu is a medival town in Girona (Spain)

THE BESALU’S BRIDGE

The most emblematic of Besalu’s qualities is the large Romanesque bridge which guards the entrance to the old town. Supported by seven arcs and two towers, the bridge is very well preserved and a good example of Medieval architecture, although there has been a bridge there since the time of the first Roman settlements on the shores of the river Fluvià.

In the part of the town nearest to the bridge there are many narrow streets that belong to the ancient Jewish quarter. Here you will find the Miqvé, the purification baths, which date from c. XII, and demonstrate the presence of an important Jewish community.

The Romanesque bridge (widely known as “The Bridge of Besalu“) is a building that dates from the XIth or XIIth Century and has undergone several restorations over its history.

The current bridge is the result of several reconstructions and renovations made over the centuries. In 1939, during the Spanish civil war, two arches where destroyed and then in the 60s, it was reconstructed based on texts and illustrations on how it was originally.

Besalu (Girona), a medieval town

Girona, Besalu, Figueres, river Fluvia, Game of Thrones, Casa Cundaro… all these medieval, Romanesque and gothic places are part of Catalonia´s enchantment. Let yourself captivated by the beauty and the fascination these corners can bring and let us be part of the magic as you discover them. At Carameltrail we would be delighted to show you all of them. See you very soon!

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