L’Escala is a town in the region of the Alt Emporda, in Girona, where the ruins of Empúries and the medieval village of Sant Martí d’Empúries. In 2018 it had 10,417 inhabitants. It is part of the Montgrí Natural Park, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter and the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park. He is registered with the Association of Municipalities for Independence.
L’Escala is a fishing village, which does not give up its roots as a fishing village and excellent anchovy salters. The sea is also one of our great tourist assets, as is the gastronomy and the large number of leisure and cultural activities that take place throughout the year.
L’Escala has grown a lot in recent decades, in which it has surpassed the barrier of 10,000 inhabitants and has been configured as a small town that radiates its services to its environment. L’Escala, through Empúries, was the gateway to Greek and Roman civilizations and the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia-Empúries is a reference to tell the history of our country.
The town of L’Escala is to the south of the Gulf of Roses, from the old Fluvià gorge to the Montgó hill. It borders the municipalities of Torroella de Montgrí, Albons and Bellcaire d’Empordà (Baix Empordà) with the municipalities of Sant Pere Pescador, Armentera, Ventalló and Viladamat (Alt Empordà).
The old town of L’Escala is located between the Mediterranean Sea and a set of hills in the last northern foothills of the Montgrí massif. Geologically, the terrain is eminently calcareous, with remnants of silt and more shallow clays. In its municipality, near the beach of Riells, is the Estany de la Poma.
L’Escala offers a privileged environment of great beauty, which has made it appear in various advertisements, video clips and films. It has recently come out in vehicle ads, a popular beer brand or the latest from a kite surfing and foil kite brand. It was also the main stage of the international film “Tasting Menu”, directed by Roger Gual. A spectacular coastline, the Greek and Roman ensemble of Empúries, the narrow streets of Sant Martí d’Empúries, the charm of the town will also seduce you.
L’Escala contains in its municipality the ruins of Empúries, gateway to Greco-Roman culture and civilizations in the Iberian Peninsula from the sixth century BC. The territory, inhabited since prehistory, received the impact of a superior culture that would transform its foundations.
Its first inhabitants arrived by sea and founded the ancient city of Empúries, which currently houses the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia.Apart from some scarce evidence dating back to the Neolithic era, the effective settlement of the area occurred around the 9th century BC. C., already in the Final Bronze. In the 4th century BC. C. a group of Greeks, coming from Phocea, establish the first colony of Ampurias (Ἐμπόριον, ‘Emporion’) in the current San Martín de Ampurias, then an island linked by a narrow isthmus to the mainland. This colony was later moved to the mainland and, around the 2nd century BC. The Romans established, a little to the west of the Greek city, a new city with a rectangular plan, much larger than the previous one, although they would eventually merge. The whole complex, except the Paleopolis (San Martín de Ampurias), was abandoned towards the end of the 3rd century, since, due to the decline of the Roman Empire, the population became rural and moved to more easily defensible places.
A century after the disappearance of the county house of Empúries -according to Pella and Porgas-, in the middle of the 15th century, and near what was the first capital, a small fishing village began to expand thanks to the impulse of maritime trade.
L’Escala began to appear in texts written from the 16th century onwards as a small fishing and cabotage port depending on the neighboring town of Empúries. Its use as a port, however, is much more remote. Its name – from the Latin Scala -, which was very common throughout the Mediterranean area, designates a port or pier, a common refuge for boats. The dependence on Empúries will be reversed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for the benefit of L’Escala. In 1680 the residents of the “Port de l’Escala of the town of Empúries” -which already form a district of 80 inhabitants- managed to have their own church, and in 1766 L’Escala became a town and head of municipality.
The main cause is the extraordinary population growth – from 390 inhabitants in 1718, to 1,383 in 1787 -, favored by a very high regional immigration, attracted by the jobs that generate the maritime customs – the Alfolí de la sal-, fishing, shipyards, salting of anchovies and sardines, the cultivation of rice and vines, the export of wine and the trades that are being created around industrial activity. This is what he will point out in his diary to the traveler Zamora in 1789: “His neighbors work in all fields, earn good wages and there are no poor.”
The census of 1806 gives 1,600 inhabitants. The one of 1857, 2,574, and the one of 1877, only 2,607 inhabitants, due to the mortality caused by the epidemics produced by the cultivation of rice and cholera. The economy will be maintained until well into the twentieth century, basically dedicated to fishing and the cultivation of the vineyard, with a population that will oscillate, until 1960, around 2,500 inhabitants. At the beginning of the century, a remarkable political and cultural activity began: it was the time of the Ateneu d’Art i Cultura, the Ateneu Víctor Català, the Center Joventut, that the theater and the sardana couples flourished., the Floral Games… The civil war will put an end to this whole movement and L’Escala will live one of the most tragic episodes in its history: the bombing of the town by fascist aircraft at the end of the war,
At the beginning of the 20th century, a notable political and cultural activity began, with the Athenaeum of Art and Culture, the Youth Center, the sardana groups, the floral games, etc. The civil war will mean a halt to all these movements, also resulting in the town being bombarded by Italian aviation. The economy was largely based on agriculture and fishing until the 1960s, when the tourism boom turned the economy around. Small companies disappeared in favor of construction, trade and the anchovy salting industry, which currently has a quality designation.
In the 60s a new phenomenon will turn the economy around: tourism. Small local industries will be disappearing and labor will fill the demands in construction, trade and an old industry relaunched from the creation of the quality denomination the anchovy salting. The population will increase to the current 10,000 inhabitants, except in the summer months, when it exceeds 50,000.
Initially, the village’s economy was based on fishing. L’Escala beach was used as a port and the lives of all the inhabitants revolved around it. More modernly, a fishing and marina was built in the Riells area. Currently, the economy is based on tourism, as can be seen by the large number of summer houses and hotels. Take full advantage of the natural landscapes of the town, and the ruins of Empúries.
The most characteristic product of L’Escala are anchovies with a designation of origin. Such is the popularity of this fish that many shops in the town are exclusively dedicated to it.
L’Escala is one of the most attractive and unique towns on the Costa Brava. The cultural itinerary route allows you to see the different buildings, monuments and significant spaces of L’Escala, as well as to know corners, characters and moments that speak of the history, life and values of this seafaring town.
With activity throughout the year, the old town deserves, without a doubt, to be one of the mandatory stopping points. With a wide range of services, there are many nooks and crannies that you will surely not forget. A walk by the sea, the Alfolí de la Sal building, the parish church of Sant Pere, the old seafaring cemetery… are highlights. The old town, especially around the beach is also the center where many of the most important events take place throughout the year.
In the port where we find the Maram, the Fish Interpretation Center, which allows us to get to know the daily life of fishermen and fishing gear, as well as make visits to the auction and the fish market. In the port of La Clota there are leisure, cruise and diving companies, as well as the Club Nàutic de l’Escala, with its sailing school.
Thanks to its shallow draft, Riells has always been an ideal bathing area for the whole family. It has a long pedestrian walkway full of shops, bars, restaurants and lots of second homes. Right next door you can find the current fishing and marina of L’Escala and, a little further on, the Planasses area.
Cala Montgó is located in the southernmost part of L’Escala. It is a cove of fine white sand from the limestone erosion of the Montgrí, protected by Punta Milà and Punta Montgó. It is an area where second homes are combined at one end, and at the other, the Montgrí Natural Park, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter. Between the municipalities of L’Escala and Torroella de Montgrí, in this area you will also find a good range of restaurants and bars.
Passeig d’Empúries, inaugurated in 1992 on the occasion of the Barcelona Olympic Games, connects Sant Martí d’Empúries with the town of L’Escala. It is a pedestrian and cyclist walk of about two kilometers, which runs along the coast of Empúries, passing through places as interesting as the Greco-Roman site of Empúries, the ancient Moll Grec or the spectacular viewpoint of the Caves, among other interesting corners.
Sant Martí d’Empúries
It is a neighborhood dependent on L’Escala, preserved as a medieval village. Long ago it had been a peninsula and welcomed the first inhabitants from the ninth century BC. Three centuries later, he established trade relations with Phoenicians, Punics and Phocian Massaliotes, which was the beginning of negotiations that made Empúries one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean. Since then, Sant Martí d’Empúries has been always inhabited continuously. Until 1064, Sant Martí was the seat of the county of Empúries. A good part of the medieval wall is preserved. The church of Sant Martí was built in 1538, on the pre-Romanesque temple of the year 926. In contrast to the medieval character of the town, in Sant Martí we find the Casa Forestal, of modernist style, currently home to the Iberia Graeca Foundation. Just in front are the remains of the old castle, which inspired Victor Mora, creator of the comic Captain Thunder, to be the home of the hero’s home.
It is worth walking through the narrow streets of Sant Martí. In the Plaza Mayor we find several restaurants that offer interesting gastronomic proposals. Once you have visited this town, it is also highly recommended to walk along Passeig d’Empúries, which connects Sant Martí with the town of L’Escala. They are a couple of kilometers that allow you to discover the beaches of Empúries, pass right by the Greco-Roman site of Empúries and see the ancient Greek Wharf.
Museums and Cultural Centers
L’Escala enjoys a large number of cultural spaces that allow us to better understand its history and traditions.
Anchovy and Salt Museum (MASLE)
Located in the old slaughterhouse (building from 1913), the Anchovy and Salt Museum immerses us in a unique time, heritage and knowledge. The permanent exhibition shows the history of fishing from the 16th century to the present day and, above all, the salting of anchovies, an industry that over the centuries has been the engine of the town and has made it famous throughout the world.
Fish Interpretation Center (MARAM)
The Peix de l’Escala interpretation center brings us closer to the world of fishing in a visual and interactive way. We will get to know the day-to-day life of the fisherman, boats, traditional fishing gear such as longline, cobweb, minor gear and fish auction.
The Vicenç Folgado collection is a collection of varied and curious objects that have been achieved during the years of a very intense sporting life around the world.
Alfolí de la Sal
L’Alfolí is one of the emblematic buildings of L’Escala. It consisted of the old salt trade center, although it had more functions since it was opened in the second half of the seventeenth century. It served as a warehouse, the point of redistribution and control of goods arriving by sea (salt, cereals and other products), and those exported (fish, salt and wine).
Museum of Archeology of Catalonia – Empúries (MAC)
Empúries was the gateway to Greek and Roman culture in the Iberian Peninsula. The first excavations of the site began in 1908, and since then a constant scientific recovery has been carried out. In this site are preserved the remains of a Greek city – the colonial enclave of Emporion – and a Roman city – the ancient Emporiae, created in the early first century BC on the structures of a military camp. Roman installed during the previous century. In the ruins of Empúries you can visit the Greek city, the Roman city and the archeological museum.The mosaics of the old stately homes, the sculpture of Asclepius or the imposing Roman Forum are a must-see. The MAC-Empúries organizes very interesting guided tours.
The gastronomic shows that take place throughout the year, and tasting the variety of dishes they offer is a good way to discover the particularities of our cuisine. Obviously, a visit to L’Escala cannot be complete without tasting the local cuisine and, especially, the famous anchovies of L’Escala. All the bars and restaurants in the town have this exquisite food on their menu, either in the most traditional way – accompanied by bread with tomato – or in creative tapas. Don’t miss the Anchovy Top Route if you’re in L’Escala at the end of September. We recommend that you visit one of the salted anchovy factories.
L’Escala has a varied commercial offer, of tradition, of knowing what to do, of proximity, in which the personalized and quality treatment is one of the added values. An open-air shopping center with more than three hundred shops, where you will find all kinds of food establishments, fashion, accessories, service to people, household items, gift items. A business that has adapted to the needs of the population and visitors by renewing and modernizing itself by offering a commercial offer adapted to demand.
L’Escala is a town with a long commercial tradition and well known for its markets. The weekly market takes place on Sunday mornings in the area of Plaça de l´Univers and Passeig del Mar. On Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays there is also a small fruit and vegetable market in Plaça Víctor Català (in the old town of L’Escala) with local products and Km 0. On Wednesdays you can find this same market in Plaça Universe of Riells. In summer, in the evenings, on Passeig de Riells, there is a night craft market.
At the end of the day, after enjoying the beach and the other options offered by L’Escala during the day, nightlife begins, with a wide range of leisure and leisure activities. leisure so you can enjoy your stay to the fullest. Discover the most attractive, modern and avant-garde places in the area. Sit by the sea, enjoying the spectacle and calm of the bay of Roses, have a drink and talk outdoors with live music, attend one of the concerts of the summer festival… The options are many and for all tastes.
Festivals and Traditions
L’Escala is a town that lives all year round, as evidenced by the nearly 600 activities that are scheduled annually, some of which have a long tradition.
Enjoy the Carnival in L’Escala, its floats and processions and the costumes that fill the streets with color. Carnival has become one of the most anticipated celebrations for everyone. A Carnival designed to be enjoyed as a family. The activities are varied and for all audiences. One of the peculiarities of the Carnaval de l’Escala is that the Farandola is danced, a dance that will surely not leave you indifferent if you look at it as spectators, and that will make you enjoy it if you take an active part in it.
The Salt Festival was born in 1997, to commemorate the third centenary of the construction of the Alfolí de la Sal, an old warehouse where salt arrived by sea, from the salt pans of Ibiza or Torrevieja and was distributed in the villages of the interior. It is a popular participation festival that recalls and pays homage to the fishing and salting origins of L’Escala, recreating what everyday life was like more than a hundred years ago. It includes a display of seafaring trades, scenes from the daily life of the time, traditional dances and songs, and seafood cuisine. Organized by the Historical Archive and the Anchovy and Salt Museum, it is a historical recreation in the incomparable setting of the beach of the old port of L’Escala and incorporates ancient elements of its intangible heritage such as the Ball of the Dragon and that of the Farandola. Since 2015 it has been officially included in the Catalog of Festive Heritage of Catalonia.
Anchovy Festival and Anchovy Top Route
Traditional festival that includes: a proclamation by a personality linked to the anchovy world; the delivery of the golden anchovy to a person / entity that has disseminated the L’Escala anchovy during the year; a habanera song on the beach and a popular tasting of anchovies from L’Escala. The previous weeks the Anchovy Top Route has been a great success. Dozens of locals in the municipality offer their tapas made with anchovies and you can stamp a “passport” as you go through each place, so you can access important prizes. A very advisable activity to do in a group, sharing a unique gastronomic experience.
The Festa del Carme is celebrated on July 16 and begins with the presentation of the salt carpet in front of the Church. Then there is a maritime procession with the image of the Virgin of Carmen that goes from the port to the beach, where the procession continues on land to reach the Church, with the participation of all those enrolled in the Tribute to Old Age (over 70 years). Sardanas, the brotherhood lunch and the end-of-party dance complete the program for this day.
It is one of the most outstanding habanera songs in the country. Organized by the Penya Blaugrana de l’Escala, it is held on the first Thursday in August on the beach.
Coinciding with Santa Màxima, patron saint of L’Escala, we celebrate the Festa Major, a few days full of festivities and activities.
The living Via Crucis is one of the local representations that have a greater participation on the part of the neighbors of the municipality, who become jumbled in the different pictures that stage the way of Jesus towards the Calvary. The cultural association El Rosetó is in charge of organizing this performance, which is held annually to coincide with Good Friday, at 22h.
Music Concerts and Festivals
Artists from around the world on a unique stage, l’Escala offers a wide range of concerts and music festivals with local and international proposals in the most idyllic and representative spaces.
One of the most defining features of L’Escala is that it is a town projected into the sea, with a great diversity of seascapes, as we find it from sandy beaches formed by dunes, to rocky massifs and steep coves. The natural interest, however, goes inside, with a green ring that can be configured through the union that occurs in L’Escala of the natural parks of Aiguamolls de l’Empordà and Montgrí, the Islands Medes and the Baix Ter. There are several hiking and cycling routes that allow you to get to know these spaces. Beyond the urban area, the municipality of L’Escala has corners that are well worth a visit. Most can be reached on foot or by bike via the local trails. Thus, you can get to know the remains of the old convent of Vilanera, the small town of Cinc Claus or the ruins of the church of Santa Magdalena (sV).
Les Planasses – Salpatx
Les Planasses is a spectacular natural space, included in the Montgrí Natural Park, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter. Different environments come together: dunes, pine forests and cliffs, combining interesting species of flora and a landscape that will not really leave you indifferent. There are also several pebble coves where you can take a dip and an interesting background for snorkeling and diving. Further east you will find the pointed tower Montgó, which had served as a surveillance against piracy. It is worth getting there, with good views of the Bay of Roses, the municipality and the beach of Cala Montgó.
Bay of Roses
Located on the Costa Brava, in Mediterranean Catalonia, the bay of Roses opens between Cap de Creus and the Montgrí Massif. Its climate is typically Mediterranean with mild winters and warm summers. Today, the Bay offers more than 45 km of beaches, 15 km of coves and 50 km of navigable canals. The coast offers from cliffs to small coves of calm and transparent waters that merge with the gentler coastline of the Costa Brava. The beaches of the Bay are characterized by shallow waters ideal for families and the practice of sailing sports.
L’Escala has an extensive coastline, about seven kilometers, and offers beaches for all tastes, from large expanses of fine sand to small coves of pebbles and from those located in an urban setting to the surroundings of the purest natural environment. In summer, a soak is essential. There are also some very interesting places to go snorkeling or scuba diving, among many other water sports that you will find at your disposal, such as sailing, kayaking or paddle surfing.
Hiking is a non-competitive sports activity that aims to bring people closer to the natural environment and knowledge of the area through heritage and ethnographic and cultural elements, preferably using traditional means of communication. Hiking in L’Escala It is a whole experience and allows you to get to know the town in a different way, enjoying the landscape and knowing corners and emblematic paths. We propose 6 different routes, each with its historical, landscape or natural resources and with a different level of difficulty and length., thus adapting to the specific needs of each person.
A walk along the coast
Both summer and winter, the coast of L’Escala always offers an attractive view. When the sea is calm and shows the blue and green colors of the transparency of the water; when easterly storms raise spectacular waves… any excuse is good to get close to shore. It is almost seven kilometers that, almost in its entirety, can be traveled on foot, discovering the promenades, the town, the viewpoint of the Caves, the cliffs of the Planasses and much more. An important part can also be cycled. And if after touring the coast, you still have time, go inland through the different hiking trailsand cycle tourism in the municipality.
Sunrise and sunset
Both sunrise and sunset often offer spectacular moments, with reddish or orange skies spreading their tones to the sea. The Punta area, the Ronda de l’Oberta path, Punta Montgó or the viewpoint of Les Coves are some of the points from which you can enjoy this natural spectacle, always different and linked to the weather conditions of the day.
The sea is a constant in our house and becomes an inexhaustible source of activities that allow us to test our expertise, during all the months of the year, you can find and choose the ones you like best. Family or individual activities, for all levels of experience and for all ages.
Boat rental: To get to know our coast, you can move in the air.
Kayak: Enjoy a kayak route and discover the coast of L’Escala.
Cruising sail: Sailing allows you to visit the coast from a privileged location, and reach corners only accessible by sea that otherwise can not be visited.
Skibus and Ringo: These are very exciting activities that guarantee high doses of adrenaline.
Diving: The seabed is very interesting for all lovers of this sport. The shallow waters of L’Escala mean that, only at a depth of 25 meters, a wide variety of species can be observed.
Snorkel: L’Escala is an ideal place to do this diving practice.
Paddle Surf: Rowing, an activity to enjoy excursions on our coast, perfect to share with the family.
Dinghy Sailing: Activity to sail with the force of the wind, whether you are an amateur or a professional.
Fishing: An activity to share in a very direct and personal way, the daily experience of the fisherman.
swimming: Swimming in the pool and open water
Windsurfing and Surfing: If you like windsurfing or surfing, in L’Escala, you will find all the related services to practice it.
Jet skis: If you like to have fun and take a walk by the sea, this is the ideal activity.
Kitesurfing: Get impressed, give it a try. an activity on a plate for the daring.