Last Wednesday I made my first trip out of town this year, to Girona, a major Catalunyan city 99km (62 miles), north-east of Barcelona. I'd checked the weather forecast which predicted clear skies all day, so I hopped on a train from Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona & arrived at lunchtime, greeted by glorious sunshine which drenched me all day.
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Girona is, like most cities of the Catalunyan region, ancient, with a rich & lengthy recorded history going back at least a couple of thousand years. It has changed hands between warring factions countless times, but there still remains some very old architecture & ruins, dating back to at least medieval times.
I made my way quickly through the more modern urban area surrounding the station towards an older part of the city where the cathedral sits. I arrived within a few minutes at the banks of the Riu Onyar, with its colourful housing & shallow, slow flowing current.
I took a few photographs from three different bridges & found myself entering an area of vacant narrow alley ways & back streets, with high walled deteriorating old houses. The pungent odour of urine wafting up through the still atmosphere of the alley ways was punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter & conversation high up from the terraced roof tops, where people lunched. I felt a sudden comfort in the cool seclusion, hidden from the hubbub of street life & the mechanisations of the modern world. These shady & empty corridors are perfect detours for lovers to stall for a few intimate moments unseen & undetected by the eyes of the cities occupants.
Within minutes I had re-emerged into an area which opened out to offer a view over the city, near some old ruins. I realised I had ascended a little from the banks of the river & was now not far from the cathedral.
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The current Cathedral of Girona is of Catalan Gothic style & built upon a site used for at least a thousand years as a place of religious worship. It is built on high ground overlooking Girona & to the north east of the city centre.
I was a little surprised, but more than happy, that there were so few visitors or natives inhabiting this beautiful part of the city, the streets being virtually empty of bodies. Bodies are useful sometimes for placing in composition, but more often just get in the way & clutter up a good shot.
After leaving the cathedral area I circumnavigated the building, reaching around the back through the gardens to some old fortification ruins.
The old buildings in this area I believe are inhabited & kept in superb condition, built from beautiful stone. The gardens are well kept too, & some of the foliage topiaried, complimenting well the varied architecture of the fortified structures surrounding the cathedral.
The garden path I followed lead to small courtyard centrally occupied by a small tree, with steps reaching up shortly to a peak, which offered some views of the forested area nearby & the snow topped mountains to the north.
I wandered around the ruins, which I believe date back at least 500 years, & decided to walk atop the old city wall which would eventually bring me back full circle to the Riu Onyar, only a few minutes walk from the station. The wall is punctuated by lookout towers at several points along its length, these offering excellent views over the city.
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