The medieval town of Besalú is located in the Comarca area known as Garrotxa in Catalonia. It is just a 40 minute drive north of the city of Girona through the pleasant pastures and small villages of Banyoles, Serinya and Cornella del Teri.
Besalú baths in the foothills of the Catalonian Pyrenees and is one of the regions most stunning Medieval towns.
It is one of those special places that from the moment you are greeted by the impressive Romanesque Bridge leading into the town, you are hooked, well I certainly was anyway.
The History of Besalú
Besalú has a long history and at one point was one of the most important and influential towns in Catalonia.
The town is located on the banks of the River Fluvia which has signs of settlements since the Roman era.
It is also thought there was an ancient castle which stood on the hills of Besalú since the 10th Century. The Jewish community lived in Besalú until the early 15th Century before they were allowed to leave peacefully.
There are visible signs of the Jewish communities past throughout the town.
Things To Do and See in Besalú
The impressive Puente de Besalú Roman bridge which guards the entrance to the town is the most well-known feature.
The medieval Bridge is supported by seven arches and two towers and for its age is extremely well preserved.
The original town walls date back to the 12th Century and contain numerous gateways into the town.
As well as the medieval bridge there are a number of other important historic sites that are well worth visiting.
- Collegiata de Santa Maria: A primitive chapel that was once one of the most important temples at the time.
- Sant Llorenc de Sous Monastery: An ancient religious sanctuary.
- Miqve: A Jewish religious bath situated below the old synagogue used for purification purposes.
- Casa Cornella de Besalú: Are well preserved civil Romanic buildings dating back to the 12th Century.
- Sant Pere Church: Consecrated in 1003 is hosted many pilgrims of the time.
- Curia Real: A Gothic room and noble building now used as a cultural space for visitors.
- Sant Vicenc Church: A Romanic Church with Gothic additions.
- Sant Julia de Besalú: A 12th century hospital where the pilgrims would have stayed and boasts an impressive façade of arcs.
Where to eat
Following in the Catalonian traditions of producing exceptional food, Besalú boasts a number of quality restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.
These eateries are well worth trying
The Pont Vell
Opened in 1981 the Pont Vell offers the best dining views overlooking the Romanesque bridge. Enjoy an authentic dining experience as they serve high quality gourmet food paired with a great selection of wines. They even grow their own fruit and vegetables and produce quality olive oil which you can buy for just €10 a bottle.
Another top-notch eatery you should try. Has a unique style and décor that includes an old movie projector and arches with colourful hand cut tiles. Serves quality dishes, delicious food and desserts, Try the tasty Gazpacho soup, a real treat.
A beautiful restaurant reminiscent of a French bistro with spectacular panoramic views over the river Fluvia and the Romanesque Bridge. Serves an eclectic mix of modern and traditional dishes. Offers a seasonal menu for around £25 pp. The Salmon and Beetroot Tartare along with the slow cooked Iberian Pork Shoulder were a triumph.
How to get there
Unfortunately there is no train service to Besalú so the best way is either by car or bus.
- Local/Regional Bus Service: http://www.teisa-bus.com/en/index.html
- Tourism Information Centre: http://www.besalu.cat/
- Parking: There is a free car parking area located right by the tourism information office which is situated just before the Besalú Medieval Bridge.
A family run hotel the Casa Marcial offers adult only accommodation and is just a short walk from the Placa Llibertat and Pont Fortificat.
However if you are a family then I would recommend booking the spacious 2-bed apartments they also offer.
Casa Marcial offers an ideal location within a few minutes walk from all of the top sites, clean modern rooms and a delightful full Spanish breakfast. The owners are super friendly and easy going, there is even a pool for the hotter months and an all hours honesty bar where you can grad a few out of hours drinks. Check out their 5.0 excellent reviews on Trip Advisor.
Guest Post by: Matt at Spainguides.com – A complete travel guide to Spain.