Castello d’Empuries - Empuriabrava / Travel Guide - 21 things to do

From beaches to natural parks, and from a medieval village to what might possibly be the Costa Brava’s answer to Venice – the area of Castello d’Empúries-Empuriabrava is certainly somewhere with plenty of variety. The 7 km of sandy beaches may be enough reason alone to spend time in this area. However many visitors are attracted because of Empuriabrava, which contrasts dramatically with the original town and of course the medieval village. Read on to find out about this gorgeous area of the Costa Brava in our Castello d’Empuries-Empuriabrava Travel Guide.

In the town of Castello d’Empúries, there are some fine monuments to see, and it also has its own Jewish quarter. If you are someone who enjoys history and re-enactments, 2014 saw the 20th edition of the town’s medieval festival.

Within the municipality of Castello d’Empúries, which is located in the Alt Emporda, is the contrasting Empuriabrava. When you visit you may well find yourself asking – is this the Costa Brava’s answer to Venice? Empuriabrava is only 4 km from the town of Castello de Empuries and is a unique, beautiful area with 23 km of canals which you can navigate. It is Europe’s biggest residential Marina area.

The vast majority of the homes have a private mooring at the bottom of their gardens, and in total there’s around 5000 private jetties. Apartments and fine houses have been built intricately along the waterways, and are also “conveniently” close to some of the loveliest golden sandy beaches.

If you prefer to immerse yourself in the more historical part of a destination, then you may prefer to stay around the original town of Castello d’Empúries, but spend some time visiting the impressive wealthy residential Marina area of Empuriabrava. Depending on your taste, either stay in this area, or go there to have a drink or something to eat, and enjoy watching the lifestyle of those who have expensive yachts and houses. It’s a very important tourist destination, which is extremely popular with both the French and Germans, and also to some extent some British and Dutch.

1. Do One Or More Of These Super Day Trips

In terms of easy trips, Figueres is only 12 km away, which is where Salvador Dali was born and you can see the Dali-Theatre Museum. It’s around 25 km from Cadaques, which is also well worth a visit, but do be aware of the interesting road that leads in and out of it. Roses is also worth the trip, and this is around 10 km away. During the town which is really spectacular is around 50 km away.

If you’re interested in art and specifically Salvador Dali, you could consider doing the trip of the Dali Triangle. Two out of three of the destinations within a very easy reach, and the third place, Púbol, is a little under 40 km away.

Archaeological Civilisations
2. Ruins of Empuries

Depending on which route you take, the distance to the Ruins of Empuries is 24 to 28km. You can read information about them by clicking on Ruins of Empuries.

Architectural Interest
3. Portal de la Gallarda – The Gallarda Gate

C/Portal de la Gallarda, Castelló d’Empúries 17486

This was the entrance of the town’s fortified enclosure, from the higher side. The gate can be found at the base of the Gothic portal tower, and it sits above the mill’s irrigation channel. This would have been used as the town’s ancient moat. It was most likely renovated around the 13th to 14th centuries

4. La Gran Casa – The Grand House

C/Portal Nou, Castelló d’Empúries 17486

This is without a doubt the proud centre-piece of the artistic and historical heritage of the town. During the early Middle Ages it would have been used as a residence for nobility, and it is considered to be a wonderful example of civil architecture of the Catalan Gothic style, from the 14th to 15th centuries.

5. Rentador Public – Public Laundry

Carrer Marín

This is pretty impressive public laundry. It was constructed during the 19th century, and what gives it some very attractive features are parts that were incorporated from the former Franciscan monastery.

6. Llotja & Antiga Casa de l Vila – The Exchange & Old Town Hall

Plaça dels Homes, 1, Castelló d’Empúries 17486

Originally the Medieval Sea Exchange, but later to be the building of the Town Council, this exchange still preserves its structure that dates to around 1393. Some renovation was carried out during the 18th century. Like many of these type of exchange buildings, that you can see in some of the cities today, it is a fine structure . It has an embossed shield on its facade, and inside there are some Gothic features.

If these type abilities are of interest to you will like to check out the Valencia Silk Exchange which is actually classed as UNESCO World Heritage.

7. Castello d’Empúries-Empuriabrava Beaches

Within the 7 km or so of sandy beaches, there are three main beaches, each with their own charms. Two of them fall into the area of the Natural Park, one with the nickname of being the Wild Beach, and the third beach is a blue flag beach in Empuriabrava.

8. Platja Can Comes – Can Comes Beach

This beach is part of the Natural Park, and is around 3900 metres in length. There are some restrictions at certain times of the year in order to protect the wildlife, and there is also a doomed system, and a number of lakes. Of course it is particularly interesting because of its bird communities and vegetation, and it is close to the public during the nesting season.

9. Platja Empuriabrava – Empuriabrava Beach

Empuriabrava Beach is the blue flag beach of the residential marina area. As one might expect in this kind of an area, there are a very good range of services of all types, and proper access for those who may need it. There are also children’s parks, sporting areas, you can rent bicycles, and the Red Cross work there from 1st July until 31st August.

10. Platja La Rubina – La Rubina Beach

Around 1800 metres in length, this beach attracts those who like to kite surf, and has also authorised for dogs to be brought there to go swimming. It is also within the boundaries of the natural Park, it is commonly referred to as the wild beach and there is also a sailing school there.

11. La Torre Carlina – Carlina Tower

Carrer Calciners

During the second half of the 19th century, this tower was built in order to strengthen the town’s defences. Built by the Regiment of Toledo, it was specifically to defend the town from the Carlins forces. Unfortunately in November 1874, around half the town was burnt and destroyed, in a particularly bloody battle against General Savill’s Carlin forces – referred to as the “Fire of Castelló.”

12. Basílica de Santa Maria – Minor Basilica of Saint Maria of Castelló

Plaça Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer, Castelló d’Empúries 17486 – Phone: 972 158 019

Construction started during the 13th century, and the Santa Maria parish church is a fine example of Gothic Catalan religious architecture. It was around the beginning of the 15th century when it was built: This was the time when its facade was constructed, which has a particularly interesting marble porch. There’s also a Parish Museum which has gold and silver, archaeological pieces, and liturgical ornaments, images amongst other items. This museum is known as El Tresor (The Treasure).

Although the Counts tried on various occasions to get it the honour of being classed as a Cathedral, they weren’t successful. It does however have the dimensions and structure of one.

13. Convent de Sant Agustí – Saint Augustine Convent

Calabró, Castelló d’Empúries 17486

Originally the Augustinian Friars moved to the outskirts of the town sometime in the 13th century, but then because of the wars came into a more central part of town. The convent that you can see today has a particularly outstanding belfry, and on the entrance you can see the year 1749 is engraved. The convent has been privately owned since sometime during the 19th century.

14. Convent de Santa Clara – Saint Claire Convent

Carrer Carbonar, Castelló d’Empúries 17486

In 1260 convent was built for the St. Clare of Assisi nuns outside of the town itself. However in 1683 a new building was constructed, because the nuns needed to move into the town because of the horrendous effects of the wars.

15. Convent de Sant Domènech i Palau Comtal – Convent of Sant Domènech and County Palace

Plaça Joc de la Pilota, 1

In 1317, the convent was founded by the Dominicans. The counts would have had the Palace built sometime during the second part of the 14th century. In 1401 Count Peter II lent the palace to the friars. The convent itself was reconstructed between the 12th and 18th centuries, and has some elements such as the facade, which is classical Baroque, a Gothic room and other parts of medieval style and construction.

Natural Parks
16. Parc Natural Els Aiguamolls de l’Empordà – Natural Park of Emporda Marshes

With landscape which is magical and different to what you may have seen back home, fascinating flora and fauna, a visit to this Natural Park should be included in your trip. It’s definitely somewhere to go if you like nature, taking photographs and it’s got a large range of birds species, for those who like birdwatching. 

Medieval Routes
17. Vila Comtal – Medieval Village

For over four centuries Castilione was the capital of the Empuries county. This happened predominantly because of strategic reasons, and today by walking its streets you can still feel some of its former glory. Of course it has been somewhat dwarfed by the development of Empuriabrava.

18. Pont Vell – The Old Bridge

Carrer del Pont

This is a medieval bridge, most likely built during the time of Count Peter I, in the 14th century. It was originally called the New Bridge or Major Bridge, and it has 7 unequal eyes. These days it has the name of Old Bridge, because there isn’t an older one in the area these days. It has been damaged over the years by both floods and wars, so has been repaired on a variety of occasions.

19. El Call Jueu – The Jewish Quarter

The Jewish inhabitants of the town grew to a number of around 300 people, and the communities documented from mid 13th century. The 1492 decree pretty much wiped them out however. Today you can still see the medieval format of the streets of the Jewish quarter.

20. Primera Sinagoga – First Synagogue

Carrer dels Jueus

It is in this building that the first school or synagogue of the town’s Jewish community took place. In 1442 if corroborated this purpose, up until the expulsion of 1492.

21. Segunda Sinagoga – Second Synagogue

Carrer de les Peixateries Velles

The name of the street translates into Old Fishmonger Street, and this was the site of the second synagogue of the Jewish community of the town.

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