On this route we will discover some small medieval towns in the interior and little by little we will get closer to the Costa Brava. We will find places full of history and stories, a part of Salvador Dalí's life and we will end with the beautiful views of the sea.
We start our adventure in Juià, a small but welcoming town that has been dedicated its entire life to cultivating the land and working in the Les Gavarres forest. We found the first documents in the 9th century, specifically in the Castle of Juià, which served as a surveillance point and was owned by the bishopric of Girona, a city located just behind the mountainous complex that embraces our small town.
The Church of Juià, which has an unfinished bell tower, has a Renaissance style from the 17th century, although it very possibly had a Gothic origin.
It is worth highlighting the fact that the town's cemetery, located just across the old town, was designed by the most prominent person in Girona's modernist architecture, Rafel Masó.
Sant Martí Vell was born in medieval times in the simplest way: around the fortified house of the Martí family and the parish temple, with an original property of Cruïlles, a town was built that gave rise to this circular shape around of the Church so characteristic of many towns and cities of the time.
Although there are no remains of the small castle of Sant Martí, it is believed that it was located right in front of the church, where we will find a construction that still preserves a large voussoir portal and of which the church, originally, would have been the chapel.
With a small old town but full of life and authenticity, Sant Martí Vell fell in love with the prestigious model and jewelry designer at Tiffany born in Florence, Elsa Peretty who, after succeeding as an artist in the most important cities of the world, decided that This small town was the place where he was happy, and he decided to renovate the church of the municipality and found the Ecoccivi vineyard, which now gives us fantastic wines born at the foot of the Gavarres. A good place to visit and enjoy a unique setting. But Elsa was not the only artist who fell in love here, in front of the church, in the town hall, one of the most precious treasures of the inhabitants of the town is kept: the wedding document between Salvador Dalí and Gala, who got married in the Sanctuary of Els Àngels, which we will talk about at the next point on this route.
Despite being a town that quickly draws attention due to the way in which its medieval past has been preserved, several Neolithic discoveries suggest an origin in Roman times. This is due to the fact that we are located on an old secondary road that connected the Via Augusta and Empuries with the city of Girona, thus connecting small towns in the Baix Empordà and Les Gavarres with formerly important cities.
If we explore the town, we will find a very well preserved old town, which allows us to see not only its buildings, also the remains of the walled enclosure that protected them. Already in the heart of the old town, we find the Church of Sant Esteve, built around the 14th century in a late Romanesque style and fortified over the next two centuries.
At the entrance of the town, we will see the Santuari dels Àngels indicated, which with a journey of a few minutes by car allows us to see, not only beautiful views of the Baix Empordà and the Costa Brava, but also the temple where Salvador Dalí and Gala were married.
In what was formerly known as Mulnels in texts from between the years 800 and 900, it was considered a very important population in medieval times, with a castle that, despite being in ruins today, was very important due to the fact to be on the border between the county of Empuries and the possessions of the bishops in Girona and the Baix Empordà.
With a church, known by the name of Sant Genís, of which we find the first documents in 1019, despite being older, it belonged to a noble family that adapted the name of the place as a surname and was the seat of the most important market of the region, until in the middle of the 13th century it became dependent on the County of Empuries, to be occupied years later by the royal forces and, subsequently, sold.
In 1484 the castle was attacked and controlled by the revolt of the Remensas, a subject in which we will delve more deeply in the itinerary through the Llémena Valley, the cradle of this popular revolt that took place in this area of Catalonia.
About the famous market of Monells, little by little it faded as it was overshadowed by the new role that La Bisbal de Empordà began to have.
Today Monells is an authentic sideboard to try to imagine how people lived in medieval times. Its square is in itself a journey through time, a space that has inspired books, short films and films.
Despite being a small town, the lords of Cruilles played an important role in history. The first documents are found in the year 891, but the fact that in 1259 its lords had to use the Castle to pay a debt stands out. Gilabert III of Cruilles and his son Bernat of Cruilles helped the King Pere II to defend the region against the invasion of French troops. Thus, in 1315 towns such as Peratallada, Cruilles or Torroella de Montgrí, among others, belonged to the lords of Cruilles.
But this family played a role beyond the defense of the Catalan counties, also participating alongside the king in the attack on the island of Sardinia.
From those times, today we can find the homage tower, which was formerly part of the castle, now in ruins.
Regarding the church of Sant Miquel, it dates from the year 904, although it is believed that it was built on an even older one of Roman origin. We must take into account from this temple works of art of great importance for the history of art of the region and that today we can find in the Girona Art Museum.
We are therefore in a town that, despite being small and a bit inhospitable, played a very important role in medieval times both due to its strategic location and the fundamental role played by the lineage that managed it.
Pubol, Salvador Dalí's most special gift to his beloved Gala. We find the first documents of this town in the year 1017. With a very small old town that automatically takes you back to medieval times. We must especially highlight the castle, originally from the 11th century, and the church of Sant Pere, a 14th-century Gothic-style temple with a single nave, covered with a propped arch and finished with a polygonal apse. This church was one of the most prominent in the region until around 1963, during the Spanish civil war, a large part of its works were destroyed.
But Pubol is known around the world as the place where Salvador Dalí decided to live and marry Elena Ivanovana, Gala. Pubol Castle was Dalí's gift to his beloved, and where they lived between the most groundbreaking surrealism and the more leisurely Empordà. In this castle, today transformed into a house-museum that is recommended to visit, Dalí established his workshop in his last stage. Here they lived happily until the end of their days and it was here where Dalí had always said that he would like to rest, together with his beloved, who today can be visited in the crypt of the house-museum.
With a name with an origin closely connected to the stone (Pedra taiata), we find the first documents with this name in the year 1065, when it served as the limit of Pals and its castle.
Although it is believed to have a Roman origin, it is also speculated on a previous origin, linked to the site located at the next point on our route. The Peratallada lineage was the most important in the entire Baix Empordà, until throughout the 13th century Ponç de Peratallada died without having descent, and his sister married Gilabert de Cruilles, uniting the two houses and thus linking the territory that now we tread with the stories that we have read in Cruilles.
In Peratallada we found a castle-palace that had been abandoned and sold by the descendants of the Cruilles-Peratallada, until the current owners, the counts of Torroella de Montgrí, rehabilitated it in 1965. If we pay attention, we will distinguish two structures with functions clearly different: one had a defensive function, the other served as a palace. The shape of the castle is the typical one used in high-medieval times, although part of it was rebuilt years later with other styles.
The Church of the town is dedicated to Sant Esteve. It is a Romanesque temple with two naves with a semicircular apse. At the entrance we find a voussoir semicircular arch that invites us to intuit that formerly there was a more ornate access.
Ullastret has a very small old town. It is important to mention the church of Sant Pere, built in the 11th century. This small temple is formed by a basilical plant with three naves and three apses, externally decorated with Lombard arches. Around the town we find a walled complex that has withstood the passing of the years very well and, right next to it, on Mount Sant Andreu we find the most important area of the town: The Iberian town of Ullastret is one of the largest deposits on the Iberian Peninsula. We can thus discover the ruins of this important point both for the cultivation of the land and livestock as well as for trade from a prism centered on a more past time, in which the arrival of the Greeks in Empuries meant a whole revolution in crops and commerce.
With a medieval past focused on the defense and control of the coastal areas, Pals presents a very well preserved old town, full of details that recall its past and with vestiges of the old fortress that presided over it, such as the keep, with a Romanesque style and circular plan, built between the 11th and 13th centuries. We find the first documents where Pals appears in the 9th century, referring to the old castle.
If we go up to the top of the hill on which the town is built, we will see the plain that surrounds it and that, years ago, was formed by shallow swamps.
In the old town it is also important to take into account the church of Sant Pere, with a predominance of the Romanesque style, as well as the walled complex that can still be seen today, with four square towers from the 12th century.
With an origin very similar to Pals, Begur had the function of control and defense of the sea. With a castle located at the highest point of the town, it had always focused its economy on fishing, the search and commercialization of coral and the cultivation of the land. However, Begur would not have gone from being just a defensive point, like so many others that we find in these lands, if it were not for the inhabitants who marched to Cuba at the end of the 19th century to improve their economy and who after returning enriched invested in eccentric homes that sought to demonstrate the success of their exodus. Today, these Indian houses and the old town form together a picturesque setting that gives to the visitor a unique and different walk at each step, adorned with the blue background of the Mediterranean Sea.
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