Monday, August 11, 2014

Girona, Spain, Part I

We visited Girona during the family wedding trip to Spain. A walking tour was arranged and we went for half the walk. J and L ran out of stamina, so we admired the cathedral before going to an early (by Spanish reckoning) lunch.

Our walk started with finding parking, which was a little tricky. We drove over to the free lots but they were full, so we used an underground lot. Emerging into the daylight, we crossed a bridge where the walk started.

A sun-dominated picture of the bridge to old town Girona

The Onyar River

Across the river is the Esglesia de Sant Feliu, a church begun in the 14th century and a popular pilgrimage spot since it has the tombs of St. Felix (whom it is named after) and St. Narcissus. They are both patrons of the city. The stairs are full of flowers because Girona's flower festival (a ten-day affair) would start the next day. So this post will have lots of flowers in it.

St. Feliu

Flower-drenched stairs

Our guide pointed out a statue of a lioness on a column across the plaza. The popular tradition is that visitors have to kiss the lioness's rear end if they want to come back. Originally, the column was free-standing, making it challenging. Now there are some steps to help out future tourism.

That lady is blocking the steps!

Not sure I want to come back that badly!

We meandered through various streets, seeing neat architecture in different places. The guide said that many of the buildings were restricted on changing their appearance. Old window frames and blinds had to be kept or imitated to preserve the "old world" feeling of the place.

Traditional colors and windows

A fortified street

More nice architecture

Nearby we saw the church of St. Peter of the Cock Crows or Esglesia de Sant Pere de Galligants. It was a monastery but has become the town's archeological museum.

Archeology Museum (former church)

Down the street is a small church that was dedicated to St. Joseph, but is now used by Roman re-enactors to store their stuff. Like other places, flowers were starting to dominate the interior.

St. Joseph's exterior

St. Joseph's interior

This building segued nicely to our next discovery, the ancient Roman gate of the city. The Via Augusta, that ran from Rome to Tarragona, went through here. On the inside of the gate is a little Madonna and Child. Convicts on their way to execution (which happened outside town) would stop here to pray for their souls.

The Roman Gate

Inside the Roman Gate

Detail from the archway

The road lead us to the plaza below the town's Cathedral. Like the Sant Feliu church, the steps of the cathedral were given over to flowers.

Cathedral with flowers

View from the cathedral

The cathedral is quite ornate on the outside. It has nice statues of Saints Peter and Paul, as well as a fabulous side entrance.


St. Paul

Side entrance!

We broke off from the tour here and visited the cathedral, which did not allow pictures inside. The interior of the nave has the widest span of any Gothic cathedral in Europe. Behind the main altar is a throne called "Charlemagne's chair," named after the famous emperor who captured Girona in 785. Many amazing gilded altar pieces make this cathedral worth a visit.

From the cathedral we headed off for lunch. L wanted to go down one street that was especially decorated for the festival.

A random Madonna and Child on the streets (and the lions at the bottom spout potable water!)

Street with flowers and balloons and bells

L touches a balloon and rings a bell

The next blog will cover lunch and our after-lunch adventure of walking on the walls of the city!

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