Set in the valley of the Ter, at the confluence of four rivers, we find the city of Girona. One of them, the Onyar, divides the historic centre from the modern city.
The old centre of this catalan city preserves remains of its long history, from the time it was founded by the Romans in the 1st century B. C. To them we owe its original wall, whose remains stretch from the Archaeological Walk to the Wall Gardens.
Set in this walled enclosure (La Força Vella), stands the Cathedral. Its Romanesque origin is shown in its fortress-like appearance and strategic location, although the most outstanding aspect is an immense Gothic nave, the widest in Medieval European architecture. Inside, it preserves one of the textile jewels of Catalan Romanesque, the Creation Tapestry. Beside the entrance staircase to the cathedral is the Pia Alomoina, an old charitable institution in Gothic style.
Girona has other key pieces of religious architecture, like the Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants, a historic-artistic monument; or the church of Sant Nicolau. These are Romanesque churches whose apses and octagonal cupolas deserve a close look as they form key elements of the Catalan medieval style. The convent of Sant Doménech, built in Gothic style and clear example of the importance of the religious orders in the colonisation and repopulation of Catalonia during the Middle Ages, stands amid gardens.
Also to this historical period belong important displays of Arab and Jewish art, the result of these cultures living side-by-side with Christianity for centuries. So, you will discover the multitude of small streets making up El Call, the Jewish quarter of Girona. Calle Força is the heart of this district, which had a synagogue and centres of cabbalistic study. The Plaça del Oli and the Plaça del Vi maintain all their flavour; and, in them are some of the greatest jewels of medieval palace architecture, like the Fontana d’Or. The Call is currently one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in Spain.
Not far from here, a Capuchin convent houses the Arab Baths, where we should point out a pavilion built on eight fine columns and crowned by an octagonal cupola. Before crossing the river and walking towards modern Girona, you can climb up to the belltower of Sant Feliu or go to the Pont de Pedra (Stone Bridge) over the Onyar, where you can get overhead views of all the houses in the city and their façades painted in ochre, dark blues and copper. On the other side of the river you will find one of the most beautiful examples of Catalan Modernism, the work of Rafael Masó.
Outstanding buildings are the Teixidor Factory and the Punxa House, among others. The Hospital de Santa Caterina, a Baroque building from the 17th century, is also in this area. And, on the other side of the Passeig Devesa, is one of the recreational areas for the people of Girona, the Parc Devesa. This is an exotic forest area largest made up of plane trees, giving a strong contrast with the city's medieval architecture.