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Catalonia, Valencia, and the Costa Blanca Travel Guide

  • Photo: Pepj / Shutterstock


At the confluence of four rivers, Girona (population: 96,000) keeps intact the magic of its historic past—with its brooding hilltop castle, soaring cathedral, and dreamy riverside setting, it resembles a vision from the Middle Ages. Today, as a university center, Girona combines past and vibrant present: art galleries, chic cafés, and trendy boutiques have set up shop in many of the

restored buildings of the Old Quarter, known as the Força Vella (Old Fortress), which is on the east side of the River Onya. Built on the side of the mountain, it presents a tightly packed labyrinth of medieval buildings and monuments on narrow cobblestone streets with connecting stairways. You can still see vestiges of the Iberian and Roman walls in the cathedral square and in the patio of the old university. In the centermost quarter is El Call, one of Europe's best-preserved ancient (12th- to 15th-century) Jewish communities and an important center of cabalistic studies.

The main street of the Old Quarter is Carrer de la Força, which follows the old Via Augusta, the Roman road that connected Rome with its provinces.

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