As you stroll over the uneven bridge with broad archways that allow the force of the river to pass seamlessly beneath your feet, you enter the historic town of Besalu. Situated in the countryside outside of Girona, there is nothing in Catalonia that is comparable to this dainty town, full of history and perfectly preserved character. A dusty car park lies at the end of the bridge implying that the journey into Besalu must be completed by foot, ensuring that your visit won’t be ruined by tour buses.
The first impressions as you enter this town of the past resemble that of a fortress with only one path in and out. The narrow windy cobbled streets spiral off in all directions, allowing you to meander through and get to grips with everything Besalu has to offer. Vibrant hanging baskets fall from terraced cottages injecting colour into the shaded streets, similar to how a street lamp operates. Amenities that are associated with a modern town have been implemented into Besalu, but preserved in rustic charm. Delicious bakeries, a butchers, and small boutiques are sprinkled asymmetrically, occupying many of the fronted shops.
The cobbled streets have an eventual meeting point, as the sun sheltered paths open out into a large square, known as a ‘placa’ to the locals. Restaurants and bars occupy the periphery of the square, offering a great choice of local culinary experiences including ‘calçotada’, which is a traditional Catalonian dish of long spring onions coated in a special glaze and barbecued. These lengthy sweet onions are dangled from a height when attempting to devour, making for a humorous spectacle and a great social eating experience. Washed down with a refreshing ‘Clara’ this essentially is a Spanish shandy; a mixture of Estrella beer and lemon and lime soda; a light beverage perfect for when the sun is searing down.
If you prefer a more natural setting for a spot of lunch, the plains on either side of theFluviaRiverare the perfect setting for a picnic or afternoon siesta. Wade through the mountain fresh water, walk along the levees, or even join the locals in fly fishing yourself a catch for your evening meal. The tranquil setting down by the river, overshadowed by the towering presence of Besalu is the ideal place to spend a lazy afternoon listening to the trickling flow of the water as it passes downstream.
Besalu represents everything a historic town should be, not bombarded by touristy gimmicks allows its charm to shine through, and lets you explore the streets and sights at your own pace. The combination of the old town and pristine countryside visually encapsulates an essence of the past, making it the perfect daytrip to experience history in these relaxed and mystical surroundings.
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Category: History and culture