Just under two hours outside of Barcelona, you will find one of the most precious medieval villages tucked away in the countryside: the ancient town of Besalú. If you are in search of a breath of fresh air from the cosmopolitan Barcelona, or just a little getaway, search no more. This little town is constructed of narrow streets made of cobblestone, medieval stone houses and churches, and a picturesque landscape accompanied by a small river. Besalú is one of the most charming and quaint towns in the province of Girona, and although it is possible to see the whole town in an afternoon, it is the ideal day trip or weekend getaway.
4 Main Points of Interest
After asking multiple locals, it came out to be a general consensus that the main point of attraction is the 11th Century Romanesque Bridge over the Fluviá River. This bridge grants you access and entry into the historic medieval village, and is the ultimate spot for picture taking because you can see the whole town and countryside from this viewpoint.
After the bridge, the town is most famous for the Jewish baths and synagogue called the Miqve. Although both were closed on Sunday when I went, you can get a walking tour of the baths through the tourism office.
The third point of interest is the Monestir de Sant Pere, or the Monastery of Saint Pierre. This church was built in 977 by Bishop, and was restored in the early 11th century. This is the main church of the town, and is connected to an incredible and spacious plaza where you can find delicious Catalan cuisine on the terraces at any of the plaza restaurants. Also tucked away in the plaza, you will find a curious little museum that has fame throughout the town: The museum of miniatures, Micromundi.
Micromundi is a museum that requires you to look through a magnifying glass in order to see the miniature works of art. It is unique, interesting, and very cheap to take a tour of (3,90 for students!). Their current exhibition requires you to look through the eye of a needle given upon entry, and see how 12 camels pass through it.
What to Bring Back
For all the tea fanatics out there, there is the 10 del Pont, which serves homemade teas, coffees herbal remedies, honey, chocolates and kitchenware. Underneath of this pleasant teashop is where I stopped to have my afternoon tea on their terrace, completely undisturbed by tourists, sitting tranquilly listening to the sound of the river, and looking at the bridge. One of the owners, Ramon, was kind enough to tell me about his teas, give me directions to the and Plaza, and even tell me about Ratafia, the homemade liquor made with aromatic herbs that Besalú is famous for.
You can take walks through the local’s gardens to discover which spices and herbs they use to flavor their homemade Ratafia. There are a few shops that specify in this delicacy where you can buy a bottle to bring home (try El Sac de Besalú). If you decide to indulge a in this distinct liquor, there is the Martana Hotel to accommodate you for the night.
Where to Stay and How to Get There
The keeper of the Martana Hotel, Kisku, was kind enough to give me a tour of the idyllic hotel. The price for a room suitable for two is 85 per night, and includes a traditional, homemade Catalan breakfast, which you can enjoy on the terrace or in the gardens, accompanied by incredible views of the countryside.
On the second floor is where I fell in love with the hotel: the terrace and the library. The enchanting library has beautiful hand-carved wooden shelves, filled with classics, complete with a fireplace and leather couches. On top of a wonderful place to stay, the service provided by Kisku and Anna, the owner, will make you feel like you’re right at home.
Although it is not the easiest place to get to, there are two options for transportation to Besalú from Barcelona:
By car: take the AP7/E15 and arrive in 1:45.
By bus: take the Teisa (C/ Pau Claris 117is where the Teisa office is located)