Weekend away: Girona


Girona is just over an hour’s train ride from Barcelona.  Much of the city is untouched by time; in fact, its streets were used to recreate the atmosphere of a small 18th century French town in the film ‘Perfume’. If you are a good walker, and not put off by alleys so hilly they sometimes turn into flights of stairs, this is an unforgettable weekend destination.



The Onyar River neatly separates modern Girona from the mediaeval section. You can cross from one to the other on a bridge designed by Eiffel, admiring the multi coloured facades reflecting in the water. Gerona’s own Rambla, lined with interesting shops and little restaurants, runs parallel to the river in the old town. From here, a network of steep cobbled streets leads to the huge Gothic-Romanesque cathedral brooding over the city, and boasting the widest nave in the world.Sleepy as the city seems now, it is nonetheless the capital of the province and the site of a university founded in 1446. Situated at the foot of the Los Angeles Mountains, on the coastal route from Gaul to the Iberian Peninsular, it was fought over in turn by Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and Franks.

A legacy of its troubled history is the great wall surrounding the city. The Iberians built the first walls in the 4th and 5th centuries BC. The Romans and Visigoths added to them. You can walk along the top of a stretch of this wall, a route once reserved for soldiers, for a splendid view of the city.

While you’re there: On Saturdays, between 10am and 2pm, the 18th century pharmacy of the Hospital de Santa Caterina is open to the public. A notable collection of apothecary instruments is housed under the Baroque vaulted and painted ceilings.

On the ‘new’ side of the river, the Museu del Cinema offers a fascinating journey through 500 years of the history of images and has a useful gift shop. Closed Mondays except holidays. Tel: 972 412 777;

Staying there:

Hotel Historic, a small luxury hotel in an ancient building in the Old Quarter. Tel: +34 972 22 3583; email:;



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