Sant Feliu is a town of about 20,000 people situated on the most interesting part of the Costa Brava with small rocky coves and sandy beaches only 20 mins drive from Girona. It is the perfect place to head to for a gentle stroll along the wide promenade or to sit at one of the many cafes and restaurants savouring the fresh shellfish with views of beach and fishing port.
This has been a resort town ever since the railway arrived in 1890 and many wealthy families built their second homes here, some in the Modernist style that are still looking good today. The old Casino building on the promenade is a good example although slightly gaudy for my personal taste. Always look up when you walk around these towns as then you can spot some wonderful tilework, sometimes under the eaves of the roof, ornate balconies and interesting windows and balconies. So whether to sit on the beach or wander around the small shaded squares or the pedestrianised shopping area looking for select foods or boutiques, Sant Feliu has something for everyone.
Off the beaten path for most visitors to Barcelona is an area with
lots of interesting architecture set on a hillside with good views- we
are talking about a cemetery.
The Montjuïc hill which dominates the southern side of the city was
first used and named after the Jews that used it as a burial ground
and about a third of it still is, although now a christian site.
When Catalonia and Barcelona started to flourish economically at the
end of the 19th century the cemetery was one of the main beneficiaries
with all sorts of exotic and new forms and materials used to create
the final resting places for the main families.
Wandering up the steep hillside under the tall cypress trees looking
at some of the best elements of Expressionist or what the Catalans
called Modernist art forms is really quite fun. This is characterized
by themes of natural romantic phenomena such as caves and rock
formations and utilises the creative potential of artisan
craftsmanship which you see all around you in the different shapes and
materials used in the crypts and graves.
All the best architects and craftsmen of their day were involved here
and several parts were designed by the ubiquitous Antoni Gaudí as well
as Lluis Domenech i Montaner, the two biggest stars of their day.
Sabadell is a town of 200,000 people just to the north of Barcelona and less than an hours drive from Girona. It has been an important industrial centre ever since the late 19th century specialising in textiles, metalwork and other building materials like bricks, tiles and glass. To show off their new wealth architects were commissioned to build both residential and industrial projects which reflected the Catalan penchant for Modernism.
There are some truly spectacular buildings dotted around the centre of town, and many small details like window shapes or coloured tiles and wrought iron balconies which if you keep your head up you will discover easily. The local banks have done great restoration and preservation work for some of the larger factories which have been transformed into modern offices or exhibition spaces.
From water towers to park benches and lamp posts this urban architecture is still used and hopefully appreciated on a daily basis.
Both of these buildings are very close to each other just behind the main rail/bus station in Girona. One is the offices of “El Punt” one of the local daily papers and the other houses the Architects association of Girona. Neither allows visits to the interior without previous arrangements but most of the interesting features are clearly visible from the outside anyway. The “Punxa” building (the green tower) was hit by lightning a couple years ago and much damage was suffered but has been fully restored since. The Punt building was completely renovated before it became the offices of the paper and combines modern offices within the structure created by the original architect, Rafael Masó. The original building was a flour mill and some locals still refer to it as the Farinera (flour mill). The influence of Gaudí is clearly seen in the wrought-iron work, the glazed tiles and the soft curviliniar shapes. There are other Modernist buildings all over Girona Province especially in Blanes, Palafrugell and Figueras.