EMPORDA and surroundings


Albons Bellcaire d’Empordà Foixà Fontclara La Bisbal d’Empordà
Canapost Casavells Corçà Clots de Sant Julià Canet Cruïlles Marenyà Matajudaïca Monells Palau-Sator Parlavà Pals Peratallada La Pera Púbol Rupià Sant Iscle d’Empordà Sant Julià de Boada Sant Sadurní de l’Heura La Tallada d’Empordà Tor Ullastret Ultramort Verges Vulpellac

Agullana Castell Sant Ferran fortress Dali's Museum Figueres Maçanet de Cabrenys Lladó Llers L'Escala Les Escaules Peralada Pont de Molins Riumors Sant Miquel de Fluvià Sant Tomàs de Fluvià La Vajol Vilabertran Viladamat Vilanova de la Muga Ventalló

Besalú Porqueres Banyoles Cervià de Ter Le Boulou Maureilles Céret Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines


Dali's spiritual home in Spain

To understand many of Dalí’s paintings and his fixation with his beloved corner of northeast Spain, it is essential to visit this unspoilt area, one of the most beautiful in Europe. The white-peaked Pyrenees sweep down to a fertile green plain that fringes the azure Mediterranean with hills and craggy inlets.

The Upper Empordà of Catalonia is steeped in the mythology that Dalí enthusiastically embraced. Here the often fierce tramuntana wind blows from the mountains and weathers the tortured rocks of the Cap de Creus headland.

The Dalí triangle takes in the artist’s Theatre Museum in his birthplace Figueres, his home at Portlligat, on the coast near Cadaqués, and Gala’s Púbol Castle to the south in Lower Empordà.
Pilgrimages should be made by car and prolonged to enjoy the surrounding area with its host of attractions, including lovely Costa Brava beaches and coves, medieval villages, outstanding gastronomy, great hotels and spas, walking and cycling routes and golf courses.
Figueres is just 24km (15 miles) on the motorway from the French border, or 38km from Gerona, the regional capital and its airport.
Figueres offers a short walking route to see where Dalí was born and other sights connected to him, such as the fascinating Toy Museum, home to his teddy bear, Don Osito Marquina.

From Figueres take the road to Cadaqués via the hilltop monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes and the fishing port of El Port de la Selva. On the way up there are great views of the Pyrenees and Mount Canigó (2,784m), which Dalí called the home to the Gods.
The monastery at Sant Pere (St Peter’s remains were said to have been hidden there) dates from the 10th century and, at a height of 520m, commands a stunning view up the coast to France and down to Cap de Creus, with El Port de la Selva nestling below. Dalí loved this area, with its history of pilgrim routes, military castles and raiding Berber pirates. The road twists down to Selva and onwards to the isolated inlet and bay of Cadaqués.
The old fishing village is dominated by its white church and a steep hill on its southern side, with a jumble of white houses, some with colourful shutters, in cobbled alleyways around the little beach and harbour. Dalí’s family holiday home was by the shore on the south side. The brilliance of the light dancing on the water illustrates why Cadaqués drew artists and poets.

It is a short drive or coastal walk to Portlligat to visit Dalí’s house and studio in the peaceful sheltered bay. Then it is essential to carry on to see Cap de Creus, which Dalí accurately described as “geological delirium”. All the elements in this distorted rockscape, the most eastern part of mainland Spain, inspired Dalí.

Down the coast, Empuriabrava is both the largest marina in Spain and the main skydiving centre. Fine Greek and Roman remains can be found near Sant Martí d’Empúries and the mainly medieval town of Torroella de Montgrí is dominated by a castle with spectacular views. Nearby are the Illes Medes, with a protected marine park.

In the Lower Empordà around Púbol, are several medieval villages well worth exploring: Pals, Peratallada Monells and Madremanya. Like Púbol, these rustic villages are reached through rolling green countryside and sweet jasmine perfumes their cobbled streets. If you are after ceramics, the long main street of La Bisbal d’Empordà, offers the lot. The nearby Hotel Castell d’Empordà, in an old castle, provides great views — and the Battle of Waterloo in miniature.

Edward Owen
June 5 2007
Times on Line

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