Girona is the hot little sister of Barcelona, situated north east in the Spanish province Catalunya, just an hour’s drive from Barcelona, and if you drive past it is only one more hour and you are in France. It is a small but mighty town, just around 100 000 citizens, and it is an extremely popular day trip destination for the Barcelonians. The town is known for the many excellent and award-winning restaurants, you will find a plethora of Michelin star restaurants, the famed El Celler de Can Roca has 3 stars and was voted best restaurant in the world in 2013! And we must not forget the epic gelato shop Rocambolesc where the ice creams could be made by Willy Wonka himself.
We came into Girona on a sweltering hot Spanish afternoon. We had already had a long day exploring the surrounding area of northern Spain, and Girona was our last stop before we were heading home to our hotel on the coast. It is never wise to walk around a city in 35 degrees Celsius heat, we know that, but we had to see Girona, we had been told that it was beautiful. The upside of walking around in the afternoon heat when only mad dogs and Norwegians dare venture out is that few others are around. The day trippers and tourists are gone, and the locals wisely stay indoors in air-conditioned heaven.
Girona blew us away from the first few yards from our car and over the Onyar river where we could look downriver at the very cool penjades-houses that hang precariously over the river like colourful Lego blocks. Over the bridge of Pont de Sant Feliu to the front of the Sant Feliu Basilica. Behind the basilica are the stunning Arab baths (built after the Arabs left), sadly they were closed for the day when we came.
The Carrer de la Forca, which runs south behind the basilica, is part of the Architectural Heritage Inventory of Catalunya for the uniqueness of the street and the buildings on it. It is like stepping back in time walking down the streets and the alleyways jotting off in all directions from the cobbled medieval street. We also found that Girona is full of small independent shops with great selections on everything from clothes to furniture and home décor. We ended up buying a very cool Arabian style carpet that still really ties one of our house rooms together.
We continued after purchasing another gelato to cool off down to Plaza de Catalunya where you can enter the Passeig de Muralla. The walk of the old city wall offers a glimpse of Girona from above and unobstructed views of the nearby Pyrenees Mountains. The route sits atop the eastern city walls, which the Romans first built, then reconstructed in the 14th century, tore down again at the end of the 19th century, and once again restored in recent years. We walked the whole wall and ended up in the neighbourhood behind the awesome cathedral of Girona. The Cathedral and Basilica of San Felix dominates the skyline of Girona. Built on a hilltop above the city, the cathedral boasts the widest Gothic nave in the world. The stairs leading up to the entrance are very cool and will test your stamina. At the bottom of the stairs there are some nice cafes where you can sit, have a drink, and look up at the imposing basilica and imagine being a part of the series Game of Thrones.
The Game of Thrones Connection
When we came to the cathedral, we had to have a little rest in the shade, just to stay on our feet, damn it was hot! We googled some info on the cathedral itself while we rested, and lo and behold, it was used in Game of Thrones! We are both massive fans of GoT, but we had not put two and two together and found out that both the front of the cathedral and the alleys behind had been used for epic scenes in series 6!
One of the most epic scenes from series 6 is when Jamie Lannister rides up the stairs of the Great Sept of Baelor in Kings Landing, and they used the stairs and front of Girona cathedral for those scenes.
If you walk behind the cathedral you are suddenly in Braavos. The corner where Arya Stark is a blind “no one” and begs for money while being attacked by the Waif is there. And the same alley is used for several scenes. Game of Thrones Spain has a great site for locations around Girona town.
This was without a doubt an unexpected highlight for us while in Girona. We walked down the hill from the cathedral and wandered in deserted old convent gardens just doing what we do best, getting a bit lost and finding small gems along the way.
We can really understand why Girona was used for GoT and other movies and series, the number of old buildings, narrow alleys, and sheer number of epic locations in Girona is just staggering. It is such a beautiful place.
We wish we had longer to explore Girona, but the few hours we spent in the heat were truly awesome. So many beautiful buildings, the ancient feel of the whole town, and we would of course like to explore some of the famous restaurants around town, so until next time Girona!