Cape of Creus is the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, located at the northern end of the Costa Brava, at the end of a small peninsula that goes into the Mediterranean Sea that separates the Gulf of Roses, to the south, from the Gulf of León, to the north. This head is the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. The Cape area belongs to the municipality of Cadaqués and is part of the Cap de Creus Natural Park. In the region, it is also known as the Devil’s Head, and the N and S sectors of the sea that the head separates, such as the Upper Sea and the Lower Sea, respectively. On the promontory closest to the tip, at 87 meters above sea level, there is a lighthouse built on the foundations of a Roman signal tower, which in the late Middle Ages also served as a watchtower.
From a geological point of view, the Cap de Creus massif is the eastern extension of the Pyrenees. The Sun, observed from the cliff of the lighthouse of Cap de Creus, appears on the horizon of the sea at an earlier hour than from any other point in the Iberian Peninsula. Certainly this fact in itself can justify witnessing a dawn from the lighthouse, although there are more attractions: the surroundings of the lighthouse are cliffs of rocks shaped by the Tramuntana for tens of thousands of years, barely distinguishable vestiges of civilization in everything that encompasses the view except the lighthouse itself and a hostel restaurant that looks like another accident of the tortured and rough geography of the earth’s crust where the Pyrenees sink into the Mediterranean. Another gift for the senses is the breath of the sea, salt, humidity and wind, which invades everything, there in the navel of the world according to Salvador Dalí.
The terrestrial marine environment of the C. de Creus has been protected by the figure of the Natural Park since 1998. When the ancient Neolithic settlers erected dolmens and menhirs in the area there was arboreal vegetation unknown today in these places. Of those times the megalithic constructions have lasted; fire, agriculture and livestock have replaced that original forest of cork, oak, raspberry and oak, with low scrub of broom and argoma, thyme and rosemary.
During the late Middle Ages, the people of the Cap de Creus Massif cultivated vineyards on terraces delimited by stone walls that stretched along the slopes of the mountains. Its raison d’être was to combat the erosion of deforested land, and to make better use of water from the scarce rains. This agricultural practice spread around the villages and lasted for centuries until at the end of the 19th century a plague from France, phylloxera, annihilated the centuries-old vineyards. Today, like the stone megaliths, terraces are the silent witness of the passage of time: cultures that arrive, flourish, invent, build and then, are transformed, leaving behind traces of stone. And certainly, the Cap de Creus massif is a huge natural stone museum, and one of its jewels is the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, which for almost a thousand years gathered the religious, civil and criminal power it exercised over the inhabitants of this area. The plagues, the pirates and finally the war with the French at the beginning of the 19th century left the walls of this Catalan Romanesque landmark empty.
The weather dresses the stone of orange and greenish gray colors, it does not matter that it is a Neolithic dolmen, terrace of medieval culture or tower of monastery, in her finds viable substrate the lichens there where the sun gives them hours of light and the morning moisture takes longer to fade. In all the navel stones in the world, there is one that, due to its color and shapes, has been the object of greed, exploitation and trade, it is the living stone of the skeleton of the red coral. It is shaped like a shrub and grows about two millimeters a year on dark walls and holes from twelve meters deep. If you ever look at it in its environment, don’t tear it up, you think nature has invested more than two billion years in crafting it.
Cape Creus Peninsula
It is a steep and rocky promontory, 672 m high, which rises above the Mediterranean forming a small mountainous peninsula, cut by numerous notches, in the form of small coves, oriented according to the structure of the slate.. From a geological and morphological point of view, it is part of the foothills of the eastern Pyrenees, which sink into the sea through the Cap de Creus massif. On granitic soils and laminar structure of the Ordovician (Paleozoic).
It is influenced by the waves, caused mainly by the north wind, a name given to a cold wind blowing from the north and northwest, and by east winds. In this area annual precipitations are registered that go between the 500 and 800 mm; it is, therefore, a humid Mediterranean climate, characterized by thermal mildness and moderate rainfall.
It has a dominant vegetation of bushes and shrub formations.
Peninsula in the north of the Costa Brava that rests on geological levels of more than 450 million years and that since 1984 is considered a protected natural area with the category of natural park.
It includes the municipalities of El Port de la Selva, La Selva de Mar, Llançà, Cadaqués, Palau-saverdera, Pau, Roses and Vilajuïga. It forms an extremely steep, deep-water coastline, with abundant islets, very high cliffs, rocky outcrops eroded by wind and wind, meadows and forests inland, and hidden coves of clear water, often only accessible from the sea. As the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, it is an important point for the flow of migratory birds.
The particular note is the uniqueness of some rocks associated with animal shapes that, over time, have become mythical; this is the case of the eagle of Pla de Tudela and the lion of Cap Gros, or that of the rock of the island of Culleró, located in front of the cove of the same name and in which it seems that Salvador Dalí was inspired to create the play.
There are remains of the population of this area already during the prehistoric period. The area is dotted with several dolmen remains. During antiquity the Rhodes founded near the isthmus, Roses. Further north we find Cadaqués in the middle of Cap de Creus and further north there is, at the end of the cap, the Port de la Selva. During the medieval period, the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes was founded. Well into the twentieth century, the Cap de Creus Natural Park was created
At the top of the Pení are the facilities of a radar station (Air Surveillance Squadron number 4, EVA-4) that belongs to the Spanish Air Force, built by the United States in 1959.
The area is now a Natural Park. The peninsula has an area of 190 square kilometres (73 sq mi) of an extraordinary landscape value; a windbeaten very rocky dry region, with almost no trees, in contrast with a seaside rich in minuscule creeks of deep blue sea to anchor.
The world-famous “fishing village”, with approximately 1900 permanent residents, is considered one of the most visited towns on the northern Costa Brava. The bay of Cadaqués is home to the largest natural port in Catalonia. In summer, boats and ships of all sizes moor there. Anyone wishing to set foot on land, however, will need a zodiac or will have to throw themselves into the water and get there by swimming. The main beach is stony and too narrow to accommodate many people, in addition to the multitude of boats that we will find anchored in the bay but.. who visits Cadaqués in summer only to go to the beach or practice- are there water sport.
During the 1950s, tourism was established here as in many other coastal towns, but no other place in the world of similar size has hosted as many famous artists as the ‘ Dalí village’ has done: Matisse, Picasso, Duchamps, Man Ray, Max Ernst, André Derain, to name a few. The church of Cadaqués was built in the 17th century. It is located in the center and is surrounded by many narrow streets that lead to the beach and give Cadaqués its picturesque charm. In the old town there are a large number of galleries, workshops and craft shops. During the winter some of these shops may open on weekends. From Easter Cadaqués is full of tourists and then most shops are open permanently inviting visitors to make a purchase.
In high season you come to Cadaqués to see and be seen. Beach cafes and bars have a constant activity; the nightlife is also very lively. Excellent restaurants with absolutely acceptable prices make the competition. The house of Salvador Dalí, several museums and the different art galleries, make Cadaqués an ideal place for a cultural holiday. The City Council also organizes numerous cultural activities. Infinity of walks and the Natural Park of the Cap Creus with its restaurant create in addition ideal conditions for the enthusiasts of the nature.
Local agencies offer accommodation in hotels and guesthouses of various categories and classes. There is also the possibility of staying in private houses or flats, and there is even a campsite. In all cases, advance booking is recommended. We find restaurants of various categories, some open all year round. The price here is a bit higher than, for example, in Llançà, although perfectly acceptable. Some of the features you’ll enjoy are mini golf, horse riding, bicycle rental, windsurfing. There are no rental boats. The climate is mild as in all around Cap Creus and does not get too hot in summer. During the winter, on strong north wind days, the effect of the wind can become quite annoying. However, Cadaqués is less exposed to northerly winds compared to other neighboring places. Many visitors come for just one day, to visit the museums and enjoy the international atmosphere. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid the high season or busy weekends.
Castle of Empúries
Castelló d’Empúries is a strategic enclave for those who want to know the region. Located in a central and well-connected point you can easily make excursions to Roses, Figueres, Perelada, Cadaqués, the Aigüamolls Natural Park, Les Ruïnes d’Empúries etc.… This small medieval town is located at an equidistant point between Figueres and Roses, approximately 4 kilometers from the Gulf of Roses. The river Muga, one of the most important in the region, borders the south of the town watering fields and vineyards until it empties into the beach near the Aigüamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park. There are numerous paths and paths that are not very frequented that will delight the naturalist hiker…
The old town retains its medieval charm and strongly shows its important historical influence in the region. The county of Empúries embraced the whole valley of the Muga encompassing under its dominion up to 7 convents and enclaves as important as St.Martí d’Empúries. Currently the most important economic sector is tourism. Concentrated a few kilometers from Castellón, in the large urbanization of Empuriabrava, it is one of the most important tourist destinations in northern Catalonia.
Castelló d’Empúries has the most important Gothic church in the Empordà. Known as the cathedral, the church of Santa Maria de Castellón is a 14th-century building with a Romanesque bell tower and a Gothic façade. Of three ships, it owns a cover in which it is represented carved to the twelve apostles next to other subjects. The high altar is a masterpiece by Vicenç Borràs (1485) of stone and alabaster that narrates the life of Jesus. It also houses one of the most important organs in Catalonia built in the eighteenth century by Juan Pedro Cavaillé in the French style, capable of sounding 59 different registers distributed on 4 keyboards is currently being restored. Other notable architectural elements are the Gothic-style Town Hall (15th century) and a Gothic bridge over the Muga River.
The great medieval festival “Land of Troubadours” is held every September 11 and its subsequent weekend, during which you can admire the performances of knight tournaments, crafts, and different medieval trades. The market that is organized every Sunday morning in the new neighborhood called “Castellón Nou” is also popular in the region.
Castelló d’Empúries is a strategic enclave for those who want to know the region. Located in a central and well-connected point you can easily make excursions to Roses, Figueres, Perelada, Cadaqués, the Aigüamolls Natural Park, Les Ruïnes d’Empúries etc.…. There is accommodation of all categories and the village is generally quiet enough.
Far from the hotel crowds and the urbanizations of the tourist boom of the 80s, in Colera we will find a lot of tranquility and direct contact with nature. The tourist development of the Costa Brava went almost unnoticed for the small coastal town of Colera. Those looking for tranquility by the sea and surrounded by a natural environment will not be disappointed. You can find several beaches and small coves around the town. Most of them can be reached by car or on foot, although others are only accessible by sea. The main beach of Colera. Even in high season, you can take a swim on the beaches of Colera without suffering congestion. Colera has a small marina with rental moorings for boats up to 12m. Those traveling by train are in luck, as Colera has its own station.
From Colera we can take walks towards the head to Cap de Creus, and visit a series of small coves all with their charm. It should be borne in mind that in high season, ie the first 3 weeks of August, the influx of visitors and tourists is quite high. The people of Colera gather in the “Plaza Mayor” with its “Tree of Freedom” (a large tree that shades almost the entire square). Road communications are good until you reach Llançà. From there to the border in Portbou, the road is quite curved but is offset by the views and landscapes over the sea. Due to the proximity to the border, Colera village is very visited by French tourists. Visit natural places and many historical sites of the megalithic and medieval era with the occasional dolmen. Be sure to visit the exhibitions at the “Horizon” art gallery.
Empuriabrava covers an area of 503 hectares, of which about 10% are canals or ports, which has given it a lot of popularity. They are all here, from the tiniest boat to the cruise yacht. They call it “the largest Navy in the world.” They say it has more waterways than Venice, full of private moorings in front of houses. Accommodation in pensions and hotels of all categories and classes, as well as houses or apartments. These are offered through local agencies. There are numerous shops that facilitate the acquisition of all kinds of souvenirs. There 80,000 people who visit Empuriabrava every summer enjoy other advantages, such as being able to practice all water sports. The place is built primarily for holiday needs. Over the years many houses and apartments were built, even away from the canals.
The direct view of the sea and the bay of Empuriabrava, with its large and sandy beach, can be enjoyed only from the seafront. Those looking for typical Catalan life can find it in the surrounding villages. The other coastal towns of Cap de Creus and the interior of the region can be reached comfortably by car. There are also regular buses to Roses, Figueres and Cadaqués. The Nautical Club, with its characteristic tower, is considered the most significant point of the Navy. There is also an aerodrome where it is possible to practice aviation or parachute.
Accommodation in pensions and hotels of all categories and classes, as well as houses or apartments. These are offered through agencies, there are also rentals without intermediaries. There are numerous shops that facilitate the acquisition of all kinds of souvenirs. The other coastal towns of Cap de Creus and the interior of the region can be easily reached by car. There are also regular buses to Roses, Figueres and Cadaqués.
The city, with more than 45,000 inhabitants, is the economic center of the Alt Empordà. In the city center are the Rambla, the old town and the new business center. The Rambla was built between 1831 and 1840 on a stream, after having expropriated the existing mill. In 1864, the 26 bananas that still exist today were planted.
In 1918, a monument was erected at the end of the Rambla to an illustrious son of the city: Narcís Monturiol, the inventor of the submarine. The city, however, became world famous thanks to another from Figueres: Salvador Dalí. The notary’s son installed the Dalí Theater Museum in the heart of the city. The museum is located in the old theater of Figueres and is one of the most visited museums in the world. Figueres offers its visitors other smaller, but also interesting museums: the Empordà Museum, with ethnic and contemporary art or the toy museum. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday is market day and many shoppers from across the county flock to the city. To the right of the Rambla, near the Dalí Museum, is a pedestrian area with various shops, businesses and restaurants.
Short history of Figueres: In the 10th century it was under the influence of the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. To the 12th century depended on the monastery of Santa Maria de Vilabertran. In 1267 James I granted Figueres the right to be an independent municipality. In the second half of the s. XVIII Figueres becomes the capital of the Alt Empordà. 1753-1766 the castle and military base of Sant Ferran are built, giving rise to an economic boom and an increase in population. 1808-1814 the city is occupied by Napoleon’s troops. In 1877 the railway station was inaugurated. In 1894 the bullring is inaugurated.
Accommodation in hotels of various categories, some located in the city center. Possibilities of purchases for practically all the needs: in the neighborhoods big surfaces have been constructed in the last years. Coastal towns can be reached comfortably and quickly by car. Train to Llançà; from there, by bus, connections to Port de la Selva and Cadaqués. Bus to Roses, Empuriabrava and Cadaqués.
L’Escala has managed to preserve not only a natural space and urbanism typical of the Costa Brava, but also traditions and popular festivals strongly rooted among its inhabitants. “Many things have changed in the last forty years” – the mayor commented not long ago – “L’Escala has grown, it is bigger, agriculture and fishing have given way to tourism and services, the beach has seen replace boats with tourists, cafes are now bars and terraces overlooking the sea,… But not everything has changed, the character and uniqueness of our town continues to live… ”.
The municipality covers the area between the south of the Gulf of Roses and Cala Montgó. Traditionally dedicated to fishing, in particular anchovies and sardines, it currently focuses its activity on tourism. L’Escala has managed to preserve not only natural spaces and urbanism typical of the Costa Brava, but have also been able to maintain traditions and popular festivals that are far from being used as a tourist pretext and are strongly rooted among its inhabitants.. A good example of this is the Feast of Ntra. Mrs. del Carme patron saint of fishermen, which is celebrated on July 16 and which represents a tribute to old age where the visitor can enjoy and participate in the procession that leads the Virgin to the church of Sant Pere. Or its Festa Major from 2 to 6 September where the Sardana is lived with special passion.
Other interesting festivities, although of a more tourist nature, are the Salt Festival, usually in October, where the visitor is shown the traditional trades related to fishing, in which the population also participates, and the Anchovy Festival where he can taste the internationally known anchovies of the scale. During the summer months every Wednesday at 10 pm an orchestra (cobla) plays sardanas on the beach, and spontaneously groups are organized where everyone is invited to participate.
We cannot present the municipality of L’Escala without mentioning the Ruins of Empúries, located just two kilometers from St.Martí Empúries and which receive thousands of visits every year not only for those interested in archeology, but for anyone who wants to enjoy of an outdoor walk in a setting of great beauty. Much less well known is the tiny village of Cinc Claus, outside the tourist routes, unpaved and surrounded by fields, located near Viladamat has one of the most important Romanesque hermitages in the area.
L’Escala offers all the necessary infrastructure related to tourism, being of great importance the gastronomic offer especially the traditional cuisine where there will never be a lack of fish. The visitor can go on boat trips along the Costa Brava, practice sports such as sailing or diving, make cultural visits or simply enjoy the fine sandy beaches of St. Martin.
We recommend that you taste the best anchovies from L’Escala in Salaons Solés. Due to the limited hotel offer, L’Escala is characterized by a quiet and very familiar tourism. If you want to spend your holidays there, you can find Holiday Rentals of apartments and houses in the Zona Comunitària agency. The offer of campsites is also very wide, both in Montgó and on the so-called ‘camping road’ that goes to Sant Pere Pescador. There is even a small one next to the old town of L’Escala. The fruit and vegetable market is on Thursdays and Sundays in Plaça Víctor Català (where the library is located, very close to the church). On Sundays we will also find the typical ‘mercadillo’ of clothes on the promenade, next to Riells and Plaça del Petit Príncipe.
A mild climate in winter and warm in summer, and a varied natural, historical and cultural heritage, make L’Estartit a place to enjoy all year round. Bounded by the Montgrí massif on the one hand, and by the Mediterranean Sea and the Medes Islands on the other, in an incomparable natural setting, L’Estartit is one of the towns on the Costa Brava with the most tourist attractions.
The sports offer is wide: walking or cycling routes, sailing, diving, golf… Depending administratively on Torroella de Montgrí, the cultural offer is also varied: festivals, concerts, theater, cinema… Nature lovers will be able to enjoy the birds and plants while making a route through the wetlands of the Ter and La Gola. A must-see is the Montgrí Castle, with a privileged view from the top of any of its towers. All this without forgetting the fine sandy beaches and boat trips with the glass bottom to admire the richness of the marine world.
Within the municipality of Llançà there are numerous forest areas and beaches of various sizes and conditions: from familiar sandy or gravel beaches, to tiny coves, which can generally be accessed on foot. The small coastal village of Llançà is located 15 kilometers from the French border, and has two clearly differentiated areas: the village of Llançà and the Port of Llançà. In the village, built around its main square, is the historic center. The port has been developed throughout this century. The port and the village together have approx. 4000 inhabitants. During the holiday period this number rises considerably, especially from the 1st of August to the 15th of August; however, Llançà can be described as a fairly reserved and quiet place. Most visitors come from Catalonia or France, Belgium and Germany.
Within the municipality of Llançà there are numerous green areas and beaches of various sizes and conditions: from the family sandy or gravel beach, to the smaller bays, which can be reached, generally, on foot. The sea water is, as in the whole CapCreus area, exceptionally clear. The climate is mild and moderate. In summer the Tramuntana brings a cool breeze. The same wind in winter brings atmospheric conditions, sometimes harsh. In the marina of Llançà there are moorings up to 12 m. There are enough moorings for rent and transit. Llançà was already officially named “Lancio mansion” in the 10th century. Until after the civil war, fishermen still lived in the village and used the port only for their work.
Historical summary of Llançà: In 974: first mention of Llançà in documents. In the 17th century, it was frequently visited by pirates. In 1691 the port chapel of the Virgin was built. In 1726 the last pirate ship was seen in the bay of Llançà. In 1759 the current border was set in the Pyrenees. In the eighteenth century there was an economic boom in the production and export of olive oil and wine. The first houses were built in the port of Llançà. Until the twentieth century. approx. 200 people lived there. In the nineteenth century phylloxera destroyed the wine harvest and therefore. the economy, hitherto flourishing, of wine. In 1870 the tree of freedom that is currently in the center of the main square was planted. In 1887 the first train arrived in Llançà. Between 1909 and 1913 the roads to Colera and Vilajuïga were built.
Accommodation in hotels and boarding houses of a family nature or in holiday homes and flats. These are mostly rented through local or private agencies. Numerous restaurants of various categories are open all year round. There are many cycling trails as well as mountain bike circuits. You can also play tennis, as well as all water sports; Diving center available. Nightlife with nightclubs and pubs is lively in the summer months, but never rises to an excessive noise level. Public safety is excellent. The surrounding area can be reached comfortably and quickly by car or taxi. Train to Figueres, by bus connections to Port de la Selva, Cadaqués, Roses and Empuriabrava.
Maçanet de Cabrenys
From Darnius and the Boadella swamp there is a small road surrounded by leafy trees. After 20 minutes of pleasant driving we will find a sign indicating ‘Font d’en Carmé’, it is a source of crystal clear water where you can stop and rest in the shade of the lush forest. After passing the Pantà, we are already told of one of the most beautiful villages in the Alt Empordà mountains: Maçanet de Cabrenys. At the entrance of the town, on the left, new signs indicate the path to take to the Font d’en Coll and the hotels and restaurants of Maçanet, and if we continue straight we would reach the peculiar town of Tapis which is even higher and administratively belongs to Maçanet de Cabrenys.
Once inside the village of Maçanet we find a path that will take us to the hermitage of ‘La Mare de Déu de les Salines’. Although the trail has a considerable slope and is difficult to climb, it is a very popular excursion for the villagers. Next to the hermitage we will find a refuge where hikers can spend the night and enjoy fabulous views. Maçanet with its old houses surrounding the church of Sant Martí and its many orchards watered by the crystal clear waters of the river Arnera and the fresh air of the mountains that surround it, will quickly captivate us. The municipality covers 67.46 square kilometers, making it one of the largest in the Alt Empordà. The mountains that surround it reach imposing heights. ‘Roc de la Campana’ (1398 m), ‘Roc de Frausa’ (1450 m) and ‘Puig de les Salines’ (1331m)
It is difficult to imagine that a village so surrounded by high mountains in the nineteenth century still had about 2,000 inhabitants. But since then its inhabitants have lived well on agriculture, livestock, olive trees and especially cork and mining. Currently the mining activity has disappeared, the collection of cork remains to exist large cork forests that continue to provide good income to their owners. Mountain tourism is slowly changing the economy of a village that now has about 700 regular residents. Maçanet de Cabrenys currently receives many visits, especially on weekends, from people who go in search of the best mushrooms in the region, to hunt wild boar, very abundant or to practice river fishing very popular in the area. However, we will never find large crowds and can enjoy a natural and romantic and clearly exceptional in the Empordà.
Peralada Medieval Village
Peralada is known in part thanks to its golf course, and its exceptional casino and also thanks to its wineries where the prestigious Catalan Cava is tasted. To the northeast of Figueres, the small medieval town of Peralada is located in the middle of a region dedicated to viticulture. In front of the village, on the southern side, the river Llobregat flows, which joins further with the Muga. On the other hand, its rich cultural heritage as a county and center of an old jurisdiction, brings additional appeal to the visit.
A must visit to the Doménec Cultural Center located in the Cloister of Sant Domeneç, a Romanesque monument from the 13th century, is the only vestige left of an Augustinian convent founded in the second half of the 11th century. The great attraction of the Cloister are a series of capitals decorated with biblical and profane scenes. The symbol of Peralada is the Castle of Peralada, with two very remarkable towers and a battlement and gardens with centuries-old trees. This old residence of the counts of Peralada was built in the 14th century, and at the end of the 16th century it was transformed into a palace owned by Francesc Jofre de Rocaberti after receiving the title of count of Peralada from Felipe III. Today, the property is private and cannot be visited in its entirety. However, in one part of the castle is the elegant casino, and the gardens remain open in July and August on the occasion of the “International Music Festival of Peralada”. The Palace is connected by a walkway to the Gothic convent, located across the street.
Across the street is the entrance to the Convent del Carme with the Peralada Castle Museum. In this convent, which was built in the 14th century in Gothic style, the Suqué – Mateu collection is exhibited, one of the most important Catalan art collections. The visit to the museum begins with the impressive library where 80,000 volumes have been archived, from valuable incunabula to the most recent editions, among other things you can see a collection of 1000 different editions of Don Quixote. Afterwards, he continues to the Gothic convent of the monastery, which has an important collection of sculptures, mainly from the monasteries of Sant Pere de Rodes and Besalù. The “Museum of Glass” is also very interesting, a dream of 2,500 works of glass art, presented in shop windows. The walls are decorated with approximately 1000 Spanish ceramics, mainly dishes from the 14th to the 19th century.
The Wine Museum closes the visit to the medieval wine cellar. It would also be worth visiting Vilabertran (in the direction of Figueres). This small village houses the old Augustinian convent of Santa Maria de Vilabertràn, one of the best preserved Romanesque convents in Catalonia.
Port de la Selva
Many of its inhabitants make a living from tourism, but fishing still represents an important sector of the local economy. Its fishing port is one of the most important in the province. In all the towns in Cap de Creus, Port de la Selva is the strongest candidate to win the title of “small fishing village”. The white houses are so close to each other that they seem to seek the shelter of the Tramuntana together.
In 1725, the first church is built. At that time the Port de la Selva still belonged to the municipality of Selva de Mar. Near the beach there were only a few huts where fishermen kept their nets and other effects. The Port de la Selva becomes independent of Selva de Mar by a decree of King Charles III. Economic boom in the nineteenth century for the production of wine and olive oil. The number of inhabitants increases. At the end of the century phylloxera destroyed most of the vineyards. The number of inhabitants is declining again. After the civil war, 70% of the buildings in the Port de la Selva were destroyed. In the 60’s there is a new economic boom thanks to tourism. The number of inhabitants stabilizes around 800. New houses and apartments are built preserving the old town.
The bay of Port de la Selva forms a natural port and is relatively sheltered from the north winds by the surrounding mountains. The beach is big enough and offers enough space, even in high season. This beach is especially popular with windsurfers. Cala Tamariu beach is located relatively close to the town center and can be reached by car. Other smaller coves, towards Cap de Creus, are worth visiting even if a walk is necessary.
After the tourist boom of the 1960s, more national tourism has been established here. This picturesque place is very popular especially for the people of Barcelona. In the high season, between 1 and 20 August, the occupation in the Port de la Selva is total, but it is still pleasant. Due to the proximity of the border, this village is visited by many French tourists. The number of tourists from the EEC and Scandinavia is similar. The environment invites you to visit places where nature is pure and many historical sites of the megalithic and medieval era.
Accommodation in pensions and family hotels, also in campsites or in holiday homes and apartments that are usually rented by agencies or individuals. There are several restaurants. There are three campsites, two of them directly on the beach. There are enough shopping possibilities. The level of prices here is slightly higher than in Llançà and comparable to that of Cadaqués. It is also possible to practice sports such as cycling, tennis and all water sports. At the marina, moorings are rented or sold. There is a dive center.
When the first tourists from northern Europe arrived in Catalonia, in the late 1950s, the first town beyond the Pyrenees to be found was the border town of Portbou. Those crossing the French border by car were impressed by the winding road that runs along this steep coast. However Portbou owes part of its popularity to its train station, key to communications between Spain and the rest of Europe. The waiting time that occurred due to the change in track width between the two countries has allowed many passengers to take a pleasant walk through this town, finding a hospitable population, quiet and beautiful. natural.
Times have changed, but hospitality is still evident in Portbou: along the beach promenade cafes and restaurants attract a large number of tourists during the day. The border with France is very close and visitors can still enjoy some products at advantageous prices between France and Spain. In the town there are numerous shops that provide the products that are particularly sought after by those who cross the border: Alcohol and tobacco and, in addition, leather and clothing are clearly cheaper than “there” in France. Friday is market day.
But Portbou is not just for the day visitor. If one is planning a longer stay away from the popular tourism areas, Portbou should be considered a good choice. The special situation of the village is based on its location in a valley, which has slowed down excessive construction. Thus, Portbou is still small and surrounded by nature.
The main beach in front of the port remains quiet all year round even during the high season, during July and August. On the beach you can see the classic Catalan boats, formerly used for fishing, which today go out for a walk manned by summer visitors. The new harbor is a remodeled construction in 2001, which will provide a safe anchorage for fishing boats and sports boats from the small yacht to the larger sailboats.
By boat you can easily reach countless coves (small and beautiful entrances to the coast) characteristic of this coast, which are also, although more difficult, accessible on foot. Clapé Beach is a good example, but in general it is almost impossible not to find a small, almost private paradise in some retreat on the nearby coast.
Border posts often have a special history, and Portbou is no exception. In 1940 the last battle of the Spanish civil war took place very close to the town. The same year the German philosopher and art historian Walter Benjamin died. Benjamin’s death on September 27, 1940 at the Hotel de Portbou in France remains a mystery. After his death the Walter Benjamin Society was created in Frankfurt in memory of one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century.
There is a memorial in Portbou, the work of the prestigious artist Dani Karavan – as a Benjamin of Jewish faith – who, using abstract forms and in close relationship with the harsh nature of the Catalan Pyrenees, inserts a symbol into the landscape that allows us to approach the situation of existential threat experienced by migrants in the twentieth century and which in turn leads to a future cry for tolerance and understanding across borders.
From less bitter times, visitors must visit the neo-Gothic church of the parish built by Joan Martorell. Other buildings in the town testify to a strong middle-class infrastructure.
Five relatively small hotels and guesthouses are open all year round. There are also a good number of apartments and holiday homes for rent; but most are rented during the high season to regular and loyal customers. Twelve restaurants and 10 bars or cafes, shops that offer everything for everyday life as well as an abundant selection of souvenirs. Two doctors and a pharmacy look after the health of the village; in the local center is post office and four banks.
True to its origins, it has one of the most important fishing ports in Catalonia and is one of the favorite destinations of European tourism for its wide range of natural, cultural and leisure. Located at the end of the gulf to which it gives its name, it is the coastal town with the largest tourist infrastructure on the northern Costa Brava. True to its origins, it also has one of the most important fishing ports in Catalonia and is one of the favorite destinations of European tourism for its wide range of natural, cultural and leisure. In summer, the number of inhabitants easily reaches 90,000, which contrasts with the approximately 15,000 residents in low season – among them, many foreigners who are professionally active -. The tourism that visits Roses comes in search of beach but also of leisure.
The leisure possibilities offered by Roses will satisfy all tastes. The visitor will be able to practice all the nautical sports, to look for the tranquility in the small coves or to realize cultural excursions to few kilometers between which are the Dalí Museum of Figueres, the Monastery of St.Pere de Rodes, the citadel of century XVI with the monastery of Santa Maria de Roses, or, much older, the Dolmen of the “Cross in Cobertella”.
Whoever is looking for more night fun on their vacation, will be in the perfect place. The City Council and many private companies organize parties and numerous events such as the Jazz Festival, Classical Music and Sardanas. In Roses there is always something to have fun with.
Many companies, restaurants, hotels and other businesses are open all year round thanks to an almost permanent influx of tourism, something uncommon in the rest of the coastal towns of the Costa Brava. Especially popular and frequented is the Sunday morning market. Numerous restaurants, for all tastes and pockets, compete. Nightclubs, small bars and wineries provide an exciting nightlife. Accommodation: In pensions and hotels of all categories and classes, as well as houses or apartments. These are offered through local agencies. One has to make sure what type of accommodation they book and choose the area carefully. There are numerous shops that facilitate the acquisition of all kinds of souvenirs. There is a wide and varied offer of houses and villas for rent with sea views.
Sant Pere Pescador
Surrounded by natural spaces of great scenic and natural interest, St.Pere is located in the middle of the Gulf of Roses, one of the most attractive bays in the Western Mediterranean. It is a municipality of accused personality. Surrounded by natural spaces of great landscape and natural interest and crossed by the river Fluvià, St.Pere is located in the middle of the Gulf of Roses, one of the most attractive bays in the Western Mediterranean. The Conjunction in the same landscape of large expanses of fruit fields and a wide beach of fine sand called “Les Dunes”, about 7 kilometers, makes this town an emblematic and very characteristic of the coast of the Costa Brava.
The first historical reference to Sant Pere Pescador dates back to 974 when it was still in the possession of the monastery of St. Pere de Rodes, forming part of the county of Empúries. The castle of Sant Pere from the 14th century is the most important medieval building in the town. The desiccation of nearby marshy areas during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries caused a considerable increase in population. The economy has traditionally been based on agriculture and fishing, and in recent years also on tourism. The large production of apples makes Sant Pere an important point of reception for immigration.
One of the tourist attractions of Sant Pere is the more than 7 kilometers of uninterrupted beach where it is common to practice all kinds of sailing. The Gulf and in particular St.Pere is appreciated all over the world by all lovers of this sport. Not in vain has more than one World Windsurfing event been held on its beaches. Moderate thermal winds allow both the initiation and the extreme practice of this sport. Fishing lovers cannot choose a better destination on the Costa Brava. Countless fans are on the banks of the river or on the beach, with Sunday being the busiest day. There are specialized shops where you can find all kinds of accessories for fishing. The banks of the Fluvià also welcome kayaking enthusiasts and water skiing enthusiasts.
Sant Pere Pescador offers all kinds of accommodation, small hotels, rooms, but especially Campings, because it has more than half a dozen of them, most of the highest category. Almost all are located at the foot of the beach which makes St.Pere again the ideal place for those looking for sun and beach without overwhelm.
On June 29 the town celebrates its main festival. Wednesday is market day. You will find mainly fresh fruit and vegetables grown in the nearby orchards. From your accommodation you can visit in less than 30 minutes by car, Figueres, Castelló d’Empúries, Les Ruïnes d’Empúries or the Aigüamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park. In Sant Pere Pescador you will feel at ease, surrounded by especially welcoming and friendly people and you will be able to enjoy all the necessary elements to spend a restful and at the same time full of attractions stay.
Selva de Mar
Well protected from pirate attacks from the insecure coast, the first inhabitants of Selva de Mar planted vineyards and olive groves imported by the first Roman settlers. For all those who know the Costa Brava it is well known that beyond the well-deserved clichés that describe our exceptional coast, its coves and its fishing villages, there is a genuine Empordà alien to sun and beach tourism. Selva de Mar is a clear representative of this inland Empordà. Located just 2 kilometers from Port de la Selva, it is a place chosen by people from the region, and weekend Barcelonans, who, aware of its privileged location, choose this beautiful town as their second home.
The paved access to Selva de Mar passes next to the “Riera de la Selva” that borders the valley and remains dry during the summer. At the end of the path that crosses the village we will find the famous “Font dels Lledoners” to which Jaume Quintana, former mayor and renowned poet, dedicates some of his verses. The truth is that the waters of this spring are much appreciated by the villagers and occasional visitors who do not miss the opportunity to take a sip or even to fill a few bottles of this exceptionally fresh water and natural in the shade of large bananas. An absolutely natural water from the valley.
As far as the history of the village is concerned, we only know what the oral tradition has transmitted from parents to children. Much of the local archives were destroyed during the civil war, the oldest being preserved, a letter from the Count of Empúries addressed to the monastery of St. Pere de Rodes in which mention is made of a chapel that was in the current location of the village and was built in the seventh century, a time when the forest covered the hills and the surrounding valley which would give the name of jungle to the village.
Agriculture developed under the influence of the monks of Sant Pere de Rodes. Well protected from pirate attacks from the insecure coast, the first inhabitants of Selva de Mar planted vineyards and olive groves imported by the first Roman settlers. Fishing was a primary livelihood in those days, however, it was not until much later that Port de la Selva would become an independent population. Until then, the beach of this well-known town housed the huts and fishing equipment of the inhabitants of Selva de Mar, as well as a watchtower that is still preserved today. Thus, as in many cases along the Costa Brava, Port de la Selva was born as a fishing port in a town located slightly inland. In the nineteenth century agriculture was the most important economic activity. With the discovery of electricity and the mechanization of the mills, Selva de Mar acquired great renown for its oil production until in 1956 the frosts drastically reduced production. Today we can visit the small museum testament to the important agricultural activity of the town.
Unlike Port de la Selva, Selva de Mar has been forgotten by the tourist boom. However, during the high summer season and on weekends a large number of summer visitors come here, who, like their residents, have been able to restore their homes with good judgment. Today the town’s economy is focused on tourism, trade and construction, the latter fortunately carried out on a small scale, with respect and sensitivity.
The tourist generally only knows the coast of the Alt Empordà. But he would certainly leave with a very partial view if he did not visit the small villages inland. These towns admired by nature lovers, offer the tranquility and the discreet charm of what is authentic. There are peoples of all sizes, peoples who, having fallen short of the course of history, will surprise us with their past activity. Villages that fit in with the green landscape in a way that reminds us of Tuscany, in north-central Italy. A particularly idyllic village, well-located and 169 meters high, is Vilamaniscle, just 3.5 kilometers from Garriguella under the Albera mountains. If one visits it today, one can easily imagine how in the second half of the 18th century about 420 inhabitants coexisted with great activity.
In prehistoric times people probably already lived here, as evidenced by the three-meter-high menhir ‘Pedra Dreta’ which is very close to Vilamaniscle. The other witnesses of the past, about 6000 years ago, can be easily found in the mountains of the Albera. Vilamaniscle is today the home of about 120 inhabitants. Its inhabitants have to work outside the village, usually in Figueres. The villagers include a teacher, the owner of a printing press and some other artisans, among others. There are also still some people engaged in local agricultural endeavors: they cultivate vineyards, maintain olive groves and send the harvest to the village cooperative. Although the production is not large, Vilamaniscle wine enjoys a good reputation in the region. Most of the inhabitants of Vilamaniscle are Catalan, but also some foreigners live here, attracted by the serenity and low prices, they have bought old houses and restored them; Belgians, Germans, French are among the population of non-Catalans…
The village is a varied picture of some restored houses, others in the process of restoration and still others awaiting renovation. Most of the houses were built between the 17th and 19th centuries. Vilamaniscle also has an official town hall, where Mayor Alfons Vila i Quadrat has served in this office for many years, supported by volunteers who work in a selfless way. Vilamaniscle is dominated by the ‘Castle’, a three-level building not restored whose temporary origin is difficult to know. The building has little in common with a castle except for the name ‘Castle’. There is also a water fountain in the center of Vilamaniscle. The water, of excellent quality comes from the mountains and has nothing to do with the local water supply
To take an excursion to Vilamaniscle in the summer, one should consider leaving around 7pm. The afternoon sun plunges into the landscape with wonderful light and a feeling of being in connection with the countryside. If you come from Llançà, Vilamaniscle is 11 kilometers away: The way to get there is to take the road towards Figueres, take the first crossing towards Garriguella, and there Vilamaniscle is already indicated. Coming from Roses or Cadaqués you can reach Vilamaniscle by the road to Vilajuïga which continues directly to Garriguella and Vilamaniscle. There is also a harder path recommended for adventurous travelers, it starts immediately behind Llançà (look for the wooden sign ‘Vilamaniscle’ near the river bed) and leads along 7 kilometers of dirt roads to Vilamaniscle. This tour is a mini-adventure for vehicles. But don’t try it with low sports cars. If you go this route you will be rewarded with wonderful views along the way.
Vilamaniscle is also a very good starting point for nature excursions. The monastery St. Quirze de Colera is especially popular and can be reached by car in about 20 minutes on forest tracks that are in generally good condition. Or, on foot the walk will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes. The excursion is worthwhile because of the cultural-historical importance of the monastery, but also because of the beautiful and impressive landscape along the way. After the first 500 meters of the path you can also visit the menhir (Right Stone), about 20 meters to the right of the forest path. Other excursions to the Albera mountains can also start in Vilamaniscle. If you do not want to spend a lot of energy visit the church St. Gil (16th-18th century) built very close to the village.
If you have succumbed to the charm of Vilamaniscle or want to spend some particularly unusual holidays, it will offer you an absolutely interesting alternative for a holiday outside the resorts. The beaches and infrastructure of coastal cities are just a 10 to 15 minute drive away. You can find contemplation and rest in an area not invaded by tourism. In the last two years the small holiday resort ‘EL Penell’ has been established in the previous restaurant and hostel of the same name. The visitor who seeks absolute tranquility and escapes the hectic life on the coast of the Alt Empordà will feel very lucky to spend time in Vilamaniscle.
Cap de Creus, source of inspiration
The strength of the landscape and the people of the Cap de Creus region has been a source of inspiration for different artistic expressions. The great masturbator, by Salvador Dalí is inspired, apparently, by a rock in Cala Cullaré. In his extensive collection of poems Somni de Cap de Creus (‘Dream of Cabo de Creus’), by the poet Carles Fages de Climent, published posthumously (2003), he recreates the transition from diffuse paganism of Greco-Latin Ampurdán to Christianity that builds churches on the foundations of the ancient pagan temples. Eugenio d’Ors, JV Foix, Josep Maria de Sagarra or Josep Pla They also fell under the influence of the fascination of the mineral landscape of the cape, populated with fantastic forms produced by the erosion of the sea and the wind.
It has also been a source of inspiration for music with authors and works such as: Jorge Alfredo Sarraute Sánchez: El faroner del Cap de Creus (‘The lighthouse keeper of Cabo de Creus’, 1989), Música per a cor (‘Music for choir’), Rafael Cabrisas (lyrics) and Joaquim Gay (music): Cap de Creus (sardana), Manel Rius: Cap de Creus (sardana), Dacosta: Cap de Creus (popular).
The place was one of the settings for the film The Light at the Edge of the World directed by Kevin Billington in 1971 and starring Yul Brynner and Kirk Douglas, an adaptation of the novel Le phare du bout du monde, by Jules Verne. At the end of the cape, beyond the lighthouse, a tower was built that had to represent the lighthouse called the End of the World, in the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego (Chile and Argentina), inspiration for the novel, and which was demolished ago few years to restore the landscape to its original appearance.
In addition to the pages dedicated to him by authors such as Eugeni d’Ors, JV Foix, Josep Maria de Sagarra and Josep Pla, the extensive poem Somni de Cap de Creus, by Carles Fages de Climent, published posthumously (2003) stands out.
The central motif of the oil “El gran masturbador “, painted by Salvador Dalí in 1929 (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid) is apparently inspired by a rock on the island of Culleró, located in front of the cove. Culleró (west of Culip cove). Dalí spent the summer in Cadaqués and, from 1930, in Portlligat, which became his permanent residence until 1982.
Jorge Alfredo Sarraute Sanchez, the lighthouse keeper of the Cross, 1989 (music for choir)
Rafael Cabrisas (music) and Joaquim Gay (lyrics), Cap de Creus (sardana)
Manel Rius, Cap de Creus (sardana)
Dacosta, Cap de Creus (pop)
The setting was one of the scenes in the 1971 film The Light at the Edge of the World, directed by Kevin Billington and starring Yul Brynner and Kirk Douglas, an adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel Le phare du bout du monde. At the end of the head, beyond the lighthouse, a tower was built that was to represent the lighthouse called the End of the World, in the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), the inspiration for the novel, and that it was demolished a few years ago to restore the landscape to its original appearance.