Empuriabrava, Girona counties, Catalonia, Spain

Empuriabrava is an entity of population of the municipality of Castellón de Ampurias, in the region of the Alto Ampurdán, province of Gerona (Spain). It is located in the heart of the Gulf of Roses, surrounded by the Marismas del Ampurdán natural park, and constitutes the most important residential marina in Europe, with some 24 km of navigable channels. The urbanization is a residential marina built near the beach of the Graells and around an extensive network of artificial channels to the image of the existing ones in the coast of France (Port-Grimaud) and Florida (the United States), a model inspired by Venice, and which repeats what had been developed since 1960 in the neighboring Santa Margarida (Roses).

Empuriabrava is located in the northern part of the Costa Brava and the Gulf of Roses, in the coastal sector of the municipality of Castelló d’Empúries, between Roses and Sant Pere Pescador. The urbanized area, along the coast to the east, is bounded on the south by the final section and the mouth of the Muga, channeled in this sector, and on the north by those of the Salins canal, while on the west on the C-260 road (formerly C-68). The C-260 road connects it with the county seat, Figueres (18 km), where the N-II road and the AP-7 motorway pass, and with the town of Roses. A regular bus line connects the urbanization with the municipalities of this county axis.

Empuriabrava is one of the most unusual towns along the Costa Brava. Sporting nearly 24 kilometers (15 miles)1 of canals, and 5,000 private jetties, Empuriabrava is the largest residential marina in the world. Reminiscent of Venice or Miami Beach, Empuriabrava is a major, upmarket tourist destination. It is particularly popular with Germans and the French, and — to a much lesser extent — Dutch and British visitors as well. There’s a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, discos, and a range of restaurants — the latter mostly aimed at foreigners eager to enjoy familiar food.

It is surrounded by Parque Natural de las Marismas del Ampurdán, better known by its name in Catalan “Parc dels Aiguamollsde L’Empordà” and the Golfo de Rosas. This population is also known as the Marina of Empuriabrava. It has 23km of navigable canals, a flying club and 5000 berths, being considered the largest residential marina in Europe. In the Marina de Empuriabrava, you will find a wide range of activities to do, as all kinds of water sports, diving, fishing, hiking, biking, golf, horse riding, helicopter flights and even flying in the wind tunnel for the more daring ones, endless options of activitieson land, sea or air for you.

The area currently occupied by Empuriabrava was dedicated, before the construction of the urbanization, to agricultural and livestock exploitation, especially in the form of pastures, and, to a much lesser degree, by the sea, some wetland areas were free.. There were five large farmhouses (“cortals”, in the local denomination), called Llebrer, Modaguer, Moixó, Vell and Torre Ribota, with farmland and, closed by drainage ditches, pasture plots), which belonged to two large owners. The central and NE sector, closer to the sea, known as the Tribanes, was occupied by a large number of small elongated plots (“pieces”), originated by the confiscation of communal lands in the mid-nineteenth century,.

The project to build a large urbanization on the north coast of the Costa Brava was promoted in 1964 by the company Eurobrava SA (later Ampuriabrava SA), formed by Antoni de Moxó i Güell, Marquis of Sant Mori, owner of four of the five farmhouses, and by the businessmen Miquel Arpa i Batlle and Ferran de Vilallonga i Rossell, with the intention of creating an international aeroclub with a related residential area. The project was presented to Castellón City Council in 1965, where it met with opposition from many small agricultural owners. After overcoming the resistance, the partial plan was approved in 1967, when the canals and streets had already been built without any permission, and the construction of the houses began, all with the formula of residential marina, then original in Europe, which achieved great success, especially among German tourism. In 1975, the second phase of the project began, which the economic crisis and the popular opposition did not allow to culminate.

The chosen place, despite an important agricultural and livestock occupation, was part of the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, a marshy area of the coast of great ecological value, which at the time did not enjoy any kind of protection. The strong impact of the intervention motivated the opposition of the incipient ecological movement that, from the Spanish democratic transition, managed to limit the initially planned area (up to 600 ha) and make forget some elements of the 1967 plan, such as the construction of a navigable canal to Figueres.

In 1980, with the project in crisis (especially with regard to the aerodrome and the yacht club), the ownership of the residential marina passed from the hands of the original developers to those of the town of Castelló d’Empúries, which launched an improvement. general of basic services and infrastructures, initially very neglected, and revitalized the urbanization, which has caused an important economic growth in the municipality.

It is a first-rate tourist destination in Europe, highlighting German, Dutch, French and Russian tourism, in that order, Apart from the marina, the Skydive Empuriabrava private sports aerodrome and the Windoor wind tunnel, the urbanization has a very solid commercial fabric established for the most part in the Els Arcs area, while the large stores and a good part of the nightlife establishments are located in the northern area near the C-68 road.

Empuriabrava was built with an urban structure consisting of navigable canals, to which is added a marina and an aerodrome. It currently has about 24 km of inland canals, making it the largest residential marina in the world. Currently, Empuriabrava has a real estate park of 14,000 houses and apartments of very different condition and 5,000 private jetties. In summer the actual population is about 75,000. The private sports aerodrome of Skydive Empuriabrava —along with its sports skydiving activities, the wind tunnel, the nightlife establishments and the extensive beach (called Els Graells or Empuriabrava) 1.5 km from 300 m wide — makes Empuriabrava a well-known tourist destination throughout Europe. The main tourists of Empuriabrava are usually of German, French and, to a lesser extent, English and Dutch origin. In recent times, homeowners Catalan, Spanish and Russian are growing in number.

The commercial and service area is at the entrance of the urbanization, near the C-260 road, where the aerodrome is also located. In front of the sea there is another commercial area, known as Els Arcs. The port of the sailboats is in the center of the urbanization, on the main canal, and has a characteristic watchtower and a yacht club. The main festival is celebrated by the Virgen del Carmen, on 16 July. Since 1988, there has been a second-hand boat fair, which is organized every year during Holy Week. In Empuriabrava you can practice many nautical activities (sailing, water skiing, ski skiing, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, etc.). It has two diving schools and a skydiving school. Tourist circuits along the canals are also offered.

Historical heritage

Public Laundry
The Public Laundry is an attractive 19th century building that incorporates elements of the defunct convent of Sant Francesc, erected in 1264 near this place. The Tuscan columns (16th or 17th centuries) that must have been part of the cloister stand out. They are integrated into the porticoed galleries surrounding the laundry room, which has a fountain in the middle.

Ancient synagogue
In this building on Carrer dels Jueus, in the Puig de l’Era Mala, in the primitive nucleus of the medieval call, there was the first synagogue or school of the Jewish community of Castellón. In 1442 it regained its function, which it maintained until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

Jewish community
The important Jewish community of Castelló d’empúries has been documented since the middle of the 13th century. It enjoyed privileges granted by the counts and came to have about 300 inhabitants. It was practically extinguished with the decree of expulsion of the Catholic Monarchs of 1492. The old Call included the area of the streets of the Wall, the Jews, the Call, the Calabró, Peixateries Velles, Plaça de la Llana… It still maintains the irregular plot of medieval times.

Curia and Prison
Gothic building built around 1336 that integrated two functions of the medieval town: the Curia, seat of the court of justice, and the prison where the convicts entered. In the Curia, at noon, the façade facing Plaça Jaume I (former Plaça del Gra) stands out, with Gothic windows that have been restored; inside remarkable carved brackets. The Prison, to the north, has a voussoir portal and two barred windows on the façade. Inside, small cells are distributed around the courtyard. Curious graffiti made by prisoners at different times has been preserved.

Convent of San Agustín
The Augustinian monks settled outside the walls of Castellón in the 13th century and moved into the town due to the wars of the 17th century. The church (above some basements) is engraved in 1749 on the cover and has a prominent bell tower. It has been privately owned since the confiscation of the 19th century, along with the convent building (Torrecabota house).

Convent of Sant Domènec and Palau Comtal
The Dominicans founded their convent in 1317 near the wall (the “Force of Preachers”). In the second half of the 14th century, the count’s palace was built, which Count Pere II ceded to the monks in 1401. The reconstruction of the convent in the 17th and 18th centuries incorporated a tower of the wall and other parts of the building medieval, such as the “Gothic room”. The façade of the church is in the classicist Baroque style, dating from 1701. Next to it is the cloister, a kind of porticoed courtyard, where some old, decorative and epigraphic pieces are exhibited. Today, the outbuildings around it house the Casa de la Vila and various municipal services.

Council House – Llotja de Mar
The House of the Municipal Council of Castellón or Llotja de Mar medieval, later continued as the seat of the City Council. It retains the structure of the late fourteenth century (1393), with reforms of the eighteenth century. It is necessary to emphasize the facade with the great shield in relief, the inner space with vault of gothic cruise that has the emblem of the town in the key and the lateral openings with columns and capitals.

Convent of Santa Clara
The convent of nuns of Castellón was founded outside the town in 1260. It was moved to the town at the end of the seventeenth century due to the disastrous effects of the wars. The large building complex, built around 1683, consists of the church with a single nave, next to the south, and an austere cloister with galleries of semicircular arches, around which the outbuildings were organized. monastic.

Basilica of Santa Maria
“The Gothic parish church of Santa Maria has a structure and dimensions typical of a cathedral, a dignity that it did not achieve despite the various attempts, in this sense, by the counts of Empúries. It is one of the most interesting examples of Gothic religious architecture in Catalonia. The work, which began in the 13th century, continued throughout the 14th century and ended at the beginning of the 15th, when the façade was built with the beautiful marble portal.

The interior space, paradigm of the Mediterranean Gothic, contains the unique baptismal fonts of the fourteenth century, the very remarkable major alabaster altarpiece of the fifteenth century, two Gothic sarcophagi and a Gothic stained glass, the altarpiece of the Sorrows of the eighteenth century, the organ of the nineteenth century and many other elements of interest. The bell tower, with Gothic decoration, it still follows the architectural composition of the Romanesque bell towers of Lombard influence. It probably belongs to the 13th century. The Parish Museum exhibits, among other things, images, objects of goldsmithing, liturgical ornaments and archaeological pieces of various chronologies.

Wayside cross
Gothic cross from the 15th century, remarkably sculpted. Originally it was on the outskirts of the town and for a long time it was in the cemetery, from where it was moved in 1963 to the place it now occupies. On one side of the cross is the crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. John at the ends, the pelican, alluding to the compassion and love of Christ, above, and the resurrection of Adam, which symbolizes redemption, at the feet. On the reverse, we see the Virgin Mary with the Son, accompanied by the Tetramorph: the symbols of the evangelists. In the knot or octagonal capital, small images of eight apostles under canopies.

Gothic Contracting room
Set of Gothic arches, partly rebuilt, often called “La Llotja”. It can belong to the medieval customs of Castellón, or to the rooms of the Hospital Major or the poor of the town that was founded in 1252 in this place.

Walls of Castellón (Portal de la Gallarda)
the Portal de la Gallarda, at the base of a rectangular tower or Gothic tower-portal, was the entrance to the fortified enclosure of Castellón on the east side. It is located on the Molí irrigation canal, which takes advantage of the old moat in the even more preserved sector of the town’s wall, forming part of the early medieval layout, which was renovated in the 13th and 14th centuries. Outside the walls you can see this section of fortification, next to the apse of the cathedral.

Big house
Residential building of the Castellón nobility of the Late Middle Ages, a piece that stands out from the town’s historical-artistic heritage. Its façade, quite austere, with the voussoir portal and the two slender coronal windows, defines this house as a very remarkable example of Catalan civil Gothic (14th or 15th centuries).

Convent of Sant Bartomeu or La Mercè
The convent of Sant Bartomeu de frares mercedaris was founded by Sant Pere Nolasc in 1238 on the outskirts of the town, near the “Pont de la Mercè” of the Molí canal, in the time of Count Ponç Hug III. In the 18th century it was moved inside the walls, next to the portal of the Virgin Mary where it survived until the confiscation of the 19th century. In the courtyard of the Casa Nouvilas there are two galleries of the Renaissance-influenced cloister, with lowered arches and Tuscan columns. It is an important and little known monument of the cultural heritage of Castellón.

Asylum Toribi Duran
The Asil Duran was inaugurated in 1989 thanks to the legacy of the Castellón philanthropist Toribi Duran i Garrigolas (1814-1888), an industrialist who made a fortune in America and who also founded the Asil Duran in Barcelona. The large eclectic building, which incorporates a chapel, is very characteristic of its time; the project has been attributed to the Barcelona architect Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia. Today, properly restored and updated, it continues in its care function.

Old Bridge
The “Pont Vell”, on the river La Muga, near the old quarter of Sant Marc, was originally called Pont Major or Pont Nou, as there was another older one, which had disappeared. This medieval bridge with seven uneven eyes, seems to have been built in the fourteenth century in the time of Count Peter I. It has been repaired at different times for having suffered damage caused by wars and floods.

Carlina Tower
The tower or strong rifle was built at the entrance to Castellón by the river, in the second half of the 19th century, by the “Regiment of Toledo”, intended to renovate the town’s defensive fortifications against the Carlists. It is a cylindrical and flat tower, with loopholes and battlements. in November 1874, the “Fire of Castellón” took place, a bloody battle in favor of General Savalls’ Carlist forces. It is rumored that half the population was ruined and burned.

Cultural heritage


Ecomuseum-Flour Mill
The Ecomuseum-Flour Mill stands on the old mill in the middle, one of the three mills that existed in the medieval town of Castelló d’Empúries. Its current appearance, a large three-storey building, and the machinery it contains, are the result of the process of industrialization that, around the 1860s, involved the technical and construction of the old mill, which was convert into factory. Currently, its excellent state of preservation allows to show the whole process of making flour. Since 1997, the Ecomuseum-Flour Mill has been one of the museums that form the network of the System of the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia, a group of spaces that redefine the process of industrialization in Catalonia.

The EmpordàNA’T space offers you a taste of the four great protected areas of the Empordà, a walk to be seduced by its natural, cultural and intangible heritage, and discover how to enjoy it. Montgrí Natural Park, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter. Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park. Cap de Creus Natural Park. Albera Natural Park of National Interest. The Empordà is an extraordinary territory in terms of natural heritage because it concentrates four cataloged natural spaces that are of great interest for their biodiversity and geology. A unique natural place where the imprint of man has also left an extraordinary cultural heritage.

Treasure Museum of the Basilica of Santa Maria
In the Museum-Treasure of the Basilica of Santa Maria, located in the new sacristy and the adjacent rooms, you can find the valuable collection of religious jewelry that preserves the Basilica. Distributed in three rooms, the Museum offers significant pieces such as a processional cross of gilded silver and Plateresque style of the sixteenth century, adorned with precious pieces and two medallions, representing the Virgin and St. John. You can also see the image of the Immaculate Virgin, silver and Plateresque style of the seventeenth century, a collection of liturgical clothing from different eras, valuable copies of Gregorian chant books, paintings with religious motifs, among others. You can also visit the Balcony of the Basilica, which is actually a real viewpoint, from where you can see the whole area of the town’s orchards, the Molí irrigation canal and the general landscape. In addition, an original matzeva (Hebrew tombstone) belonging to the old Jewish cemetery of Castelló d’Empúries is on display in the viewpoint.

Museum of Medieval History of the Curia-Prison
The Museum of Medieval History of Castelló d’Empúries, located in the historic building of the Curia-Prison, is one of the most emblematic medieval spaces in the town. This museum facility is the point of reference for those interested and lovers of the history of the town and the County of Empúries during the Middle Ages, and the thematic sections of the museum include spaces dedicated to the Jewish Quarter, the Castelló d’Empúries medieval, to the convents of the town, to the Troubadours and to the relevance that had the County of Empúries and the Counts of Empúries.

Puig Mercadal Synagogue
In the building known as Casa Forns, later Can Comas, in Carrer de les Peixateries Velles, on Puig del Mercadal, the new school or synagogue of the Castellón Jewish community was founded. It is documented from the end of the 13th century. The portal to the left of the façade was the access to the place of prayer.

Bay of Roses
The municipality of Castelló d’Empúries – Empuriabrava has belonged, since 2011, to the club of the most beautiful bays in the world, together with Roses, Sant Pere Pescador and L’Escala. The Bay of Roses offers more than 45 kms of beaches and 15 kms of coves. These beaches are characterized by shallow waters, ideal for families and to enjoy sailing sports. The coves, calm and with transparent waters, with cliffs that fit with the smoothest coast of the Costa Brava. The Bay is bounded on the north by the Cap de Creus Natural Park, on the south by the Montgrí Natural Park and in the center by the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park.

Fairs and festivals

Terra de Trobadors Medieval Festival
The Terra de Trobadors Festival in Castelló d’Empúries is one of the first historical cultural festivals in Catalonia and is the most important cultural and festive event in Castellón of the year. It is a multidisciplinary leisure and cultural space in which the people of Castellón relive their past and the splendor of the Middle Ages with enthusiasm and an open spirit at the festival. Counts, counties, musicians, monks, knights, comedians and visitors, mingle in the streets of the town during the weekend of the Festival.

The Festival begins on Friday night with the inauguration made by all the entities of the town and is celebrated in front of the imposing Basilica of Santa Maria. Next, the counts of Empúries preside over the great dinner that takes place in the Patio of the Palau Comtal. More than two hours of dinner-show, where all kinds of characters liven up the event. (Prior reservation required to attend the Dinner).

During the days of Saturday and Sunday an endless program of events takes place throughout the day and part of the night. Horseback riding tournaments, theater and street music, knights’ fights, medieval music concerts, conferences, etc., transport the visitor to the most important period of the town, when Castelló d’Empúries was the capital of the whole county.

Indoor flight competition held at the Windoor Empuriabrava, the state’s first flight simulator.

Gastronomic party where you can taste dishes of local cuisine and, in addition, family space, live music and Chill Out area.

MusicSummer: Musical performances and concerts in squares, bars and restaurants in the municipality.

ART route
Different renowned artists exhibit their works in the most emblematic buildings of the Historic Center of Castelló d’Empúries. The Art Route is an itinerary marked by the medieval intertwining of the streets of the historic center. It invites the visitor to walk, to contemplate, to look and to reflect through a selection of works of current artists of renown located in public and private spaces of the population.

Via Crucis
Representation of the Passion of Christ through the streets of the Historic Center of Castelló d’Empúries.

Festival Sons del Món – Vi & Music
July and August in Castelló d’Empúries-Empuriabrava and Roses

Natural space

Empordà and Costa Brava
Almost a third of the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees are protected natural areas. Eight natural parks, with spectacular contrasts, from snow-capped peaks to the most charming beaches and coves in the Mediterranean in just a few kilometers. And at such a short distance, there is room for fishing villages and high mountain cottages. For Romanesque monasteries and churches. For remains of Iberians, Greco-Roman ruins, Jewish quarters and medieval fortifications. For the whole surrealist legacy of Salvador Dalí. There is also room to enjoy a thousand different ways. Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, golf or taking advantage of the relaxing effects of the thermal waters in a spa. And there is always a place to sit at the table and live a unique gastronomic experience, which will leave you with the best taste in our regions.

Bay of Roses
The municipality of Castelló d’Empúries – Empuriabrava has belonged, since 2011, to the club of the most beautiful bays in the world, together with Roses, Sant Pere Pescador and L’Escala. The Bay of Roses offers more than 45 kms of beaches and 15 kms of coves. These beaches are characterized by shallow waters, ideal for families and to enjoy sailing sports. The coves, calm and with transparent waters, with cliffs that fit with the smoothest coast of the Costa Brava. The Bay is bounded on the north by the Cap de Creus Natural Park, on the south by the Montgrí Natural Park and in the center by the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park.

Canals and beaches
To visit the canals of the Marina d’Empuriabrava, you can rent small boats that do not require a skipper’s permit.

Empuriabrava beach
Empuriabrava beach is located in a completely urban context and is bordered on the north by the Salins canal and on the south by the Muga estuary.

La Rubina beach
It is a beach of natural character, located to the north of the municipal term, between the estuary of the Degree and the urbanization of Empuriabrava. It is located in the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park, which is why it is the subject of numerous ecosystem restoration programs – dunes, redundancies… – as well as its structure and landscape composition. The dunes are protected by a perimeter fence that must be respected and that allows the regeneration of the species of this type of community and the protection of the fauna that nests in these areas, such as the camanegre path (Charadrius alexandrinus).

Can Comas beach
Beach included for the most part in the Integral Natural Reserve of Les Llaunes in the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park. It emphasizes its dune system and the series of lagoons that preside over the place, especially interesting by its vegetation and the communities of birds. Because it is a beach included within the limits of the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park, both the beach and its surroundings are the subject of the design of natural routes that are explained in the information leaflets that are distributed among visitors to the zone. The beach remains closed to the public during the nesting season of species such as the mallard (Charadrius alexandrinus).

Wetlands of the Empordà
The wetlands of the Empordà are the most important set of seas in Catalonia, after the Ebro delta. The current protected area is the rest of an extensive area that formerly occupied much of the Emporda coast and is the Natural Park of the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà. This set of marshes has been generated by the final course of the Muga and the Fluvià, in the Alt Empordà; and the Ter and the Daró, in the Baix Empordà. The wetlands formerly occupied the entire coastal plainof the Gulf of Roses and the lower Ter, but they were disappearing due to the expansion of agriculture and livestock with drying channels, the canalization of the Muga and the construction of the reservoirs of Boadella, Sau, Susqueda and El Pasteral. Six small lagoons and the large lagoon or lake of Castellón disappeared.

In ancient times, rice had been grown, a practice that has been reintroduced. They comprise 4,824 ha formed by dunes, brackish and sweet lagoons, floodplains and cultivated areas.

In the second half of the twentieth century, the urbanization of the area, especially with projects such as Empuriabrava, endangered the area. In 1976, the campaign The last Empordà wetlands in danger, promoted by the Empordà Wetlands Defense Group, alerted public opinion. On October 13, 1983, the Parliament of Catalonia approved the Law on the declaration of natural places of national interest and integral reserves, and the wetlands of the Alt Empordà were protected. They have subsequently been reclassified as a Natural Park. The wetlands of the Baix Empordà, excluded from the law of1983, are protected by the Plan of Areas of Natural Interest (PEIN).

327 species of birds have been observed, including storks (or gloves, as they are known in the Empordà), mallards, kingfishers and coots. Currently, the otter can also be seen there, thanks to the project to reintroduce this species to the Empordà.

Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park
A space of coexistence between water, land, humans and nature. The Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park belongs, coincides with the remains of the old lake of Castellón. Formed by different freshwater ponds and dunes you can discover a reserve with an abundance of migratory bird species, close to 330 species, and a flora characteristic of the area.

The watchtowers strategically arranged so as not to disturb the animals, allow the visitor a direct approach to the intimacy and daily temperament of all kinds of birds and mammals that throughout the year have found this their best habitat.

Butterfly Park
Stroll through the paths of the tropical garden and discover the fascinating world of butterflies, parrots and other exotic animals.

Leisure and sports activities
Skydiving, wind tunnel flying, golf, windsurfing, kitesurfing, walking, biking, horseback riding, running, karting, tennis, paddle… and all the most classic sports. Empuriabrava, due to its geographical location, is one of the most important elite sports centers in the state. It has the best facilities in Europe for skydiving and, together with it, the Wind Tunnel, which allows both fans and sports professionals to fly as well as anyone who wants to experience the dream of humanity. The magnificent Bay of Roses, one of the most beautiful bays in the world, is ideal for any sport of sailing and the steep coast of Cap de Creus is ideal for diving, snorkelling and kayaking routes.