Today we bring you the opportunity to discover one of the most charming villages in the province of Girona: Besalú. It’s a municipality in the region of La Garrotxa in northern Catalonia, with an incredible history and medieval architecture.
If you’d like to visit its medieval corners and want to make the most of a weekend break in Besalú, you can’t miss our recommendations.
The origin of Besalú
The origin of Besalú dates back to the Middle Ages (10th century). Its name means a fort on a mountain between two rivers: the Fluvià and the Capellades.
For centuries Jews and Christians had an idyllic and peaceful cohabitation; the Jews were craftsmen, bankers and doctors, while the latter were busy working the land. Unfortunately, then came the black plague, which affected the Christian population significantly and it took them no time to blame the Jews.
In 1966, the town was declared a National Historic-Artistic Site because of its great architectural value. Nowadays, diverse social and tourist projects are carried out in the historic center. There are excavations works at the moment looking for more archaeological finds.
A weekend in Besalú: What to see
The medieval bridge of Besalú
Without a doubt, the fortified bridge is the town’s most significant feature and although it has been rebuilt several times, it continues to maintain a medieval aesthetic that makes all its visitors fall in love with it. This stone bridge was built around the 11th century, with a Romanesque style.
Its columns rest directly on the river, which makes it a perfect landscape to walk around or take a picture on the bridge. In addition, this famous bridge is the first welcoming item upon arrival and appears in most of the postcards of the town, and even of Catalonia.
The old Jewish quarter and the Jewish mikvé
In the town of Besalú, ancient Jewish baths of the 12th century, known as mikvé, were used for the purification of the body. After analyzing the historical situation, it was discovered that, in addition to the famous mikvé, there had also been a synagogue with a school, a courtyard and a prayer hall. Moreover, it is the only medieval Jewish mikvé preserved in Spain.
In its surroundings, we can find the old Jewish quarter, located just outside the medieval bridge. This part of the town is one of the most visited for its unique alleys that look like a maze. In the middle of the Jewish quarter, we find the Plaza de la Llibertat, where Christians and Jews had their disputes.
The monastery of Sant Pere
In the Plaza Mayor, there is the famous Monastery of Sant Pere, a gigantic temple with a firm and sober facade built in 1160.
Inside the Monastery we can find a beautiful circular ambulatory with an unusual apse, typical in this type of monuments. It also contains the relics of San Primo and San Feliciano, one of the reasons why the town became a place of pilgrimage for many believers.
The church of Sant Vicenç
This is the original parish of Besalú, one of the jewels of Catalan Romanesque. Located in the old town of Besalú, the church of Sant Vicenç was mentioned in the 10th century. Although the current architecture dates back to the 13th century, the outer apse maintains its Romanesque style.
In one of the chapels, the Vera Cruz relic is preserved, where Jesus was crucified, another reason why the town was a place of pilgrimage.
The museum of miniatures
If you like curios or travel with children, you can’t miss the incredible museum of miniatures, next to the church. It has two rooms where you can discover miniature and microminiature artistic works, which can be observed through microscopes or magnifiers.
Would you like to discover Besalú and enjoy an incredible weekend?
If you wish to have more great experiences, find out about the three most charming villages in the Catalan Pyrenees… Go ahead and visit them!