Bridges, steps, and flags: this gorgeous Catalan city is a hidden Spanish gem. Located in northern Catalonia, Spain, this city sits at the confluence of the Ter, Onyar, Galligants, and Güell rivers. It is a gorgeous place to spend a few days, with medieval walls, narrow winding city streets, and one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe. Although often overlooked because of its more glamourous neighbour, Barcelona, most people visit Girona on day trips. The city has a lot of things to recommend: many bridges to cross, plenty of stone steps of medieval staircases to climb; and plenty of photogenic streets marked by colourful flags draped from balconies or bedroom windows asserting the solid cultural, political, and sporting identity of residents. There are many reasons to visit Girona and here are some of the highlights.

River views are one of the best reasons to visit Girona

The Jewish Quarter, one of the main reasons to visit Girona

Settled by a Jewish community in the late 9th century, Girona has one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in the world. The area is called El Call and by the 10th century, the Gironan Jews had become a prosperous and influential sector of the city’s society. From the 13th century onwards, things took a turn for the bad, and the Jews there were ruthlessly persecuted. El Call became a target for racist attacks and it eventually became an isolated ghetto within which the residents lived virtually imprisoned, confined within neighbourhood limits, and banned from the rest of the city. This went on until 1492 when all the Jews were expelled from Spain. Today, El Call is an extremely photogenic place. It is a maze of narrow alleys, cobblestoned lanes, and secret courtyards. It is definitely one of the best reasons to visit Girona and not to mention, perhaps the most atmospheric too.

Jewish Quarter in Girona

Girona Cathedral

Another big reason to visit Girona is the city’s Gothic Cathedral. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it dates back to the 18th century and is the largest Gothic church in Spain. Founded in 1222, it is also the main church of the Archdiocese of Girona. Its construction began in 1298 and the cathedral was finished in 1324. The Girona Cathedral has the widest Gothic nave in the world. It also has a high vaulted ceiling that is supported by massive buttresses.

Girona Cathedral

The medieval walls of Girona

Also known as the Passeig de la Muralla, a walk along Girona´s medieval walls is one of the best things to do in the city. It is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best-preserved medieval city walls in Europe. Built in the 12th century to protect Girona from the Moors and the Aragonese, these ancient walls are 4.5 kilometers long. They encircle the eastern border of the old town the city and offer great spots for sunset strolls. The city views from the walls are simply breathtaking.

Forget Eiffel Tower, Girona has the Eiffel Bridge

Did you know that Gustav Eiffel of Paris´s Eiffel Tower fame had constructed a bridge in Girona? Known as Pont de les Peixateries Velles, this bridge was built just before the Eiffel Tower came into creation and is the most famous bridge in Girona. Eiffel Bridge spans the Onyar River and bears the quintessential Gustav trademark of open-lattice wrought iron. It is bright red in colour.

Exploring Game of Thrones filming sites is the biggest reason to visit Girona

Game of Thrones fans must visit Girona

Girona was a major filming location for Game of Thrones. Apart from the Girona Cathedral being used in Season 6 of Game of Thrones, the city provides the perfect backdrop for such an atmospheric TV series. There are plenty of Game of Thrones tours to show the iconic sites where the series was shot.

Girona Temps de Flors Festival

This annual flower festival is one of the most charming reasons to visit Girona. Held annually in May, this festival celebrates the city’s culture and history through an elaborate parade of flower-covered floats that wind their way through the streets of Girona.

Catalan food is awesome in Girona

The local food

The local cuisine of Girona is to die for. An interesting mix of French and Spanish influences, Girona has many Catalan dishes that are unique to the city. These are as follows: xató (a vegetable soup made with black beans), coca (the region’s version of pizza), fesols i naps (beans with garlic), and escalivada (roasted vegetables).

The diverse architecture of the city

Girona has many beautiful buildings in Gothic and Romanesque styles that are worth seeing. Some of them are historic sites like the Arab Baths, the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants, the Girona History Museum, Plaça Independencia or Independence Square, and the Museum of Cinema.

The Arab Baths

The perfect day trip from Barcelona

Located only 100 kilometers apart, the two cities are connected by a high-speed train. The journey takes about 38 minutes. Barcelona and Girona are connected with the new high-speed AVE trains and the TGV trains that continue on to Paris. In Barcelona, one can buy the tickets at the Estacio Sants Train and Bus Station. Trains leave approximately every 45 minutes.

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