Catalonia (Catalunya, in Catalan; Catalonha, in Aranese), is regarded as an autonomous community and a historical nationality that is located northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. It occupies an area of about 32,000 km²; it borders on the north by France (Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon) and Andorra; on the east by the Mediterranean Sea along a coastal strip of about 580 kilometers; on the south by Castellón in the Autonomous region of Valencia; and on the west by Aragon (Huesca, Zaragoza and Teruel). This strategic location has led to a close relations to the territories of the Mediterranean and continental Europe. Catalonia comprises the provinces of Barcelona -Catalonia’s capital- Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. Currently, 7,504,881 people live in Catalonia; the population is distributed between 946 municipalities; 63 of which exceeds 20,000 inhabitants (wherein 70 percent of the population of Catalonia have their residency). Two thirds of the population live in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Catalonia is a very dense and highly industrialized area, and it has led the industry sector in the Iberian Peninsula since the nineteenth century, whereas its economy is the largest among the autonomous regions, as it generates 18.6% of Spanish GDP. And talking about the GDP per capita, it stands at the fourth position after the Basque Country, Madrid and Navarra. Catalonia’s history and language are, for many of its inhabitants, the foundation of their collective identity Etymology The etymology of Catalonia remains uncertain, although several possibilities have been taken into account. There is one theory that says that Catalunya derives from the term “land of castles”, so it evolved from the term castlà, which meant the ruler of a castle. Therefore it suggests that the names Catalunya and Castile have a common root. Also, it has been suggested that the name Catalunya (Latin Gathia Launia) derives from the name Gothia (or Gauthia), “Land of the Goths”, since the Marca Hispanica was first known as Gothia, from which Gothland > Gothlandia > Gothalania > Catalonia theoretically derived. During the Middle Ages, Byzantine chroniclers claimed that Catalania stemmed from the local medley of Goths with Alans. But still another theory suggests that the source of the name has a Celtic origin, and it refers to “chiefs of battle”. Although the area is not known to have been occupied by Celts, the Celtic culture was present in the central part of the Iberian peninsula during pre-Roman times. The toponym, as such, was first found in written form in Latin around 1179, as it can be seen in the Pisan poem Liber maiolichinus de gestis pisanorum illustribus. This text, which describes the heroic feats that the Pisans and the Catalans achieved for the conquest of Mallorca, contains several references to the Count Ramón Berenguer III (Dux Catalanensis, Rector Catalanicus hostes, Catalanicus hostes, Christicolas Catalanensesque), as well as the ethnic references, such as catalanenses or catalanensis and territory of Catalans, Catalania. Later on, the term in Catalonia appears in some donations that King Alfonso II gave to his wife in 1174; also the term Cathalonia appears several times in the king’s will, and as Catalonha in songs of many Occitan troubadours. It is again mentioned, in times of his son and successor Pedro the Catholic, in the Assembly on the Declaration on Peace and Truce in 1200, which defines the scope of application: “Haec est pax quam dominus Petrus (…) constituit per totam Cataloniam, videlicet a Salsis usque ad Ilerdum”. The first time when the text can be read in Catalan is in the book, Llibre dels fets by James I the Conqueror written in the second half of the thirteenth century. History Catalonia was, during the Middle Ages, one of the territories that made up the King of Aragon’s inheritance, which was later known by the historiography as the Crown of Aragon. After the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire, the County of Barcelona, which had, up to that time, been part of the Hispanic Empire, obtained a de facto independence in the late tenth century and gathered around it an important part of the current Catalonia thanks to family ties or allegiance oaths; mainly the counties of Gerona, Osona, Besalu, Cerdanya and Ampurias. The county of Barcelona and the kingdom of Aragon were dynastically united by the betrothal agreed between Ramiro II of Aragon, and Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona in 1137. A betrothal by which the Count of Barcelona would marry the future queen of Aragón, Petronila. It was in the fourteenth century when Catalonia, as a Principality, played an important economic role in the context of the Mediterranean trade. The decline of the Crown brought along the decline of Catalonia, which did not prosper again until the industrialization process. The Renaixença (renaissance in Catalan) flourished from the second third of the nineteenth century; it represented a cultural movement in the recovery process of the Catalan as a culture language. In the following decades, the political Catalan movement started to take shape, and gathered into groups, such as the Lliga Regionalista, which later on became Esquerra Republicana. After the first self-government projects, which gave rise, first to the Mancomunitat de Catalunya (Commonwealth of Catalonia) from 1913 to 1923, and later on the restoration of the Generalitat of Catalonia and the subsequent approval of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1932 during the Second Spanish Republic, Catalonia suffered during both the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1975) the annulment of political freedoms, and the economic exploitation that even within the context of the current Spanish Constitution is still in force. Catalonia recovered under the 1978 Constitution the Statute of Autonomy in 1979; a Statute that has been trimmed and limited by sentences pronounced by the Constitutional Court, whose members has been elected by the Spanish right-wing party PP. Climate Catalonia has a Mediterranean climate, although there are great variations as to the temperatures registered between the coastline —with a mild climate, which is warm in winter and very hot in summer— while the inland zone has a continental Mediterranean climate —with cold winters and hot summers. There are also mountainous areas near the Pyrenees that have a high mountain climate, with slightly low temperatures below zero and heavy snow in winter, and annual rainfall figures above 1,000 mm, as well as cooler summers. The Catalan coast line has rectilinear extension of more than 500 km in length, although its real length following its course is 754.8 km. The coast tends to be straight with no major geographical accidents. The only maritime changes are defined by the contact of the Pyrenees with the sea, where the the Cabo de Creus takes shape near the Golfo de Rosas. Further down lies Blanes, where the Costa Brava begins its sinuous course, which is characterized by small cliffs and hidden coves. (.) The Costa Brava is followed by a long line of beaches known as Maresme, which goes parallel to the coastal mountain range; these beaches are interspersed with various commercial and fishing ports. Barcelona’s coastline is characterized by artificial beaches and a large commercial port that covers more than nine kilometers. The southern part of the port was built on the Llobregat delta plain, and it is followed by a smooth coast line of over 18 km. Next, the Garraf massif articulates the coasts into remarkable cliffs on its way to Sitges, after which the coast becomes a straight line again (except for numerous new ports) that stretches southwards down to the port of Tarragona. This is the second largest port of Catalonia and extends for over 5 kilometers to arrive to the Cape of Salou. The beaches in this area are known, in their tourism version, as the Costa Dorada. To the south, the coast is a smooth line again and is characterized by a smaller human population. The last major geographical feature is determined by the Golf de San Jordi and the lowlands of the Ebro river Delta, which formed by islands and peninsulas, such as those known as the tips of Trafalgar, on the north, and La Banya, on the south; while this last is attached to the delta by the Trabucador beach. The sand of the Catalan beaches is usually golden, and tends to be grainy on the north and thinner on the south.
Barcelona is, as to size and population, the second largest city in the Iberian peninsula; it is located on the northeastern coast of the aforementioned mass of land and its shores are bathed by the Mediterranean sea. It is also the capital of Catalonia, and is tethered to the Spanish monarchy since September 11th of 1714.
There are two official languages spoken in Barcelona: Catalan, which is generally spoken in all of Catalonia, and the Castilian Spanish, which was imposed by Philip V of Spain. The city of Barcelona has a population of 1.510.000, although this number is much higher if we take into account the metropolitan area surrounding Barcelona. Barcelona is unequivocally a Mediterranean city, not only because of its geographic location but also because of its history, tradition and cultural influences. The documented history of the city dates back to the times when the Romans founded a colony on its soil in the second century B.C. Modern Barcelona has experienced, during the second half of the 19th century, an spectacular growth and an economic revival as a result of the industrialization era. The 1888 World’s Fair became a symbol of the city’s capacity for both hard work and the internationalization process that has made of this city a reference for many other peer cities in the Mediterranean basin. Both culture and arts have flourished in Barcelona as a consequence of the high level of intellectuality that is found in Catalonia; also, the splendor achieved by the Catalonian modernism is one of the most patent displays.
Barcelona is not a single city in itself, but a collection of multifaceted and diverse cities. Those visitors who are unfamiliar with the city’s history might be surprised to see that this modern and enterprising city still preserves its historic Gothic center almost intact; they will also feel surprised and amazed when walking or visiting the maze of narrow streets of “Ciutat Vell, el Barri Gòtic” (the old part of the city), and the grid-like layout of the Eixample, that is, the urban planning that included an “enlargement” projected by Cerdá at the end of the 19th century.
The Saint Josep Market (in Catalan Mercat de Sant Josep), popularly known as La Boqueria (La Boqueria in Catalan), is a market town located in the Rambla de Barcelona (Catalonia). This is the place where to buy fresh produce, although at present the market has become a tourist attraction appealing. It has an area of 2583 sqm and over 300 stalls that offer a variety of local and exotic produce for both private buyers and restaurant owners of the city. It is the largest market of Catalonia, the most diverse in food supply and the most visited by tourists. The market opened in 1836, but it originally was out in the open, just at the gates of the old city, in the forecourt of the Pla de la Boqueria, where street vendors and farmers from nearby villages and farmhouses set their stalls and sold their products, just before the city would extend out of its first walls. This market was held outside the city walls to save the tax on incoming goods. Before the market existed, there was the Sant Josep convent in the same place. In 1586 the Discalced Carmelites (called the Josepets as they were the diffusers of Saint Joseph’s dedication) founded the convent at the place where the market is today. As the Rambla was becoming an important urban promenade in the eighteenth century, it was regarded necessary to remove the butcher’s shops along its length and place them, even closer to the inside, next to the orchard of the San José convent, which extremists burned, together with other monasteries that were in the Rambla, on St. James’s Day in 1835 during a revolt.
After the destruction of the convent, a large construction was built, with columns surrounded by porches; a construction that would be the largest of Barcelona at that time. It was decided to move the market temporarily inside this place, but eventually it would be its final location. Roofing works began on St. Joseph’s Day, in 1840. Early in the nineteenth century, the Rambla had, from “Carrer del Carme” to “Carrer de lle Pexina”, the same street width that today has with reference to that opposite the Palace of the Virreina. The market was located in that place, between houses and trees, and divided into distinct sectors that varied according to the products being sold. Many sellers gave a flower as a present to those who bought any food product, and here we can find the origin of a popular and inseparable part of this promenade: the current florists of la Rambla. Later on, the sale of animals, birds in special, can also be seen.
The current metal cover was inaugurated in 1914. The last architectural change took place in 2000, and there are more changes to be done in a near future that will mainly affect the Gardunya square that is located behind the current market. Over the years, the market has become the most emblematic of all in Barcelona, all of which makes of this market place a must-see location for shoppers and tourists. There is increasing number of stalls run by immigrants who sell specialties from South America, Japan, Italy, Greece and Arab countries. Las Ramblas is a fantastic promenade that is right at the oldest part of Barcelona; there are so many things to see at day, at night, at any time. There are stalls where flowers are sold, street entertainers or simply people who walk up and down this beautiful avenue and make of this central sidewalk a tourist attraction where bar-terraces are the perfect place for having a drink and feeling the pulse of the city. Barcelona is a treasure trove of delights. Starting with the Gaudi features, his three buildings, Park Güell and all the artistic benches and lamps that line the pavements. There’s a castle on the Mountjuic mountain to which you can get access using a cableway car, and enjoy the fabulous views of the coast and dock areas at the same time. For football fans, the Camp Nou is a must-see location. Then right at the other end of Barcelona is Mount Tibidabo, where you’ll discover an amazing Chapel with a huge figurine of Jesus on top of the temple that reminds that of Brazil. The Sagrada Familia is another temple designed by Gaudí that is really worth visiting, and probably is one of the best religious constructions that can be visited in Europe.
Classic attractions Tourists love these for a reason – they’re iconic and photo-worthy. The Sagrada Familia is the famous Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi, and which is the symbol of Barcelona. Gaudi devoted his last years to project this temple, but less than a quarter of the project was complete when he died in 1926. Progress in the works has been ongoing for decades, while 2026 is the target-date. Today, both the already built part and the small Museu del Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família can be visited, and the museum exhibits scale models and drawings that show the construction process. The towers of the temple can be climbed up to the highest point where an incredible view of the city becomes a gift for the eyes.
The Guëll Palace was constructed by Gaudi in 1888; it was commissioned by a wealthy industrialist of the time. Now, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Works of Antoni Gaudi” The Catedral de la Santa Creu, also known as Barcelona’s Cathedral, dates back to the 11th century; it is surrounded by other remnants of Barcelona’s past —notably some Roman remains as well as various medieval structures. The Gothic structure of the cathedral contains gargoyles and a neo-Gothic façade that was added in the 19th century. The Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona was built in 1847. It is considered by many to be one of the finest opera houses in Europe; it tragically burnt to the ground in 1994. The new Liceu was re-opened in 2000, and, despite it keeps its original facade, the facilities inside the opera house are much larger than before the fire. Many of the finest operas of the international repertoire have been staged in the Liceu, and many great opera stars have performed in it; and among them, various Catalan opera artists, such as Montserrat Caballé, Josep Carreras and Jaume Aragall.
Art and culture Barcelona is home to a number of world-class museums. The Picasso Museum is the museum of choice to visit in Barcelona; not only for the art works exhibited in it, but also for the building itself; a building that is located in the Gothic Quarter —a district that contains five medieval palaces linked together. This museum is essential to understand the formative years of Pablo Picasso The Catalan National Art Museum (MNAC) is housed in the magnificent palace overlooking the Montjuic fountains. Catalan works of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art from the 11th to 18th century can be found there.
The Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona is the favorite destination of many visitors. Miró had a particular interest in the use of diverse materials, forms and colors. It led him to explore and experiment with different art forms, such as painting, sculpture, printing techniques, ceramics, theatre and tapestry For those who love contemporary art, the Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum, is a must-see location, as it exhibits the works from the second half of the 20th century. The building’s architectural style has strong references to Modernism.
Tarragona’s history According to legend, the god Jupiter left his mortal wife when he fell in love with the city of Tarragona. Through history, we know that Tarragona was, more than two thousand years ago, the residence of Augustus and the capital of the Roman Empire. Tarragona, retains in its splendor a large number of monuments that UNESCO has declared a World Heritage Site in 2000. Years later, during the Middle Ages, Tarragona was an important ecclesiastical center; the Cathedral and the Jewish Quarter are samples of the religious art and noble legacy of this period. And as to its Modernist period, the city offers visitors the works of architects, as for example, Gaudi, Domenech i Muntaner and Jujol.
The Roman Tarraco Publius Cornelius Scipio , called “the African” regarded this rich piece of land a unique place to set up a camp for the conquest of Hispania in 217 BC. And it was there where the Romans, aided by the Iberian settlement of Kese, raised the walls of the future city, a city that would be the oldest outside Italy.
Tarraco soon became a strategic point to become both a communication link and a very important base for the conquest of the peninsula; a conquest that lasted over 200 years. The importance of the city was such that in 27 BC the first Roman emperor Caesar Augustus lived there for two years during his official visit to the city to supervise the campaign. The city grew, as well as its port, its trade, the passage of the invincible Roman legions along the Via Augusta, the spectacularity of the gladiatorial games, the chariot races in the circus, the worship of their gods, their wine, their people, and it was thus how the wealth of the empire was reflected in the Tarraco Romana. A whole story that today is alive thanks to having been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its rich heritage that can be seen in Tarraco Romana, a city that contains so many secrets in the walls and stones of its streets and which will live eternally between the progress of a changing world and the wonderful and glorious history of this Iberian Roman city.
The Medieval Tarragona After the glorious Roman period, Tarragona also played an important role in the old medieval Europe, while at the same time it retained part of the urban heritage that the city received from the Romans; the city became a consolidated and powerful center of population. The Arabs occupied Tarraco in 711 until it was liberated by Ramón Berenguer III in the 1116 reconquest. A few years later the city became the Principality of Tarragona under the commandment of the Normans and thanks to a pact of allegiance controlled by the archbishop of Barcelona. The ancient Roman Pretorio’s tower served Robert Bordet as a fortress and from it the new phase of the city begin to take form. The importance of the city can be seen in the construction of the great cathedral in 1711, which occupies the top of the city and is today one of the most visited monuments, despite it doesn’t belong to the Roman Tarraco. Many centuries later, Tarragona survived both the European plague that brought down the number of people of the city, and the various military conflicts, from which the Catalan civil war in the fifteenth century is an example.
Modern Tarragona The conflicts continued between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, as for example the War of the Reapers, a conflict that pitted Catalans against French, or some time later the Succession War and the occupation of the city by King Philip V of Spain, a monarch who almost succeeded in destroying the Catalan culture, origins, and language. Also, pirate attacks were frequent and took place between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; watchtowers, such as Torre de la Mora, were indeed very helpful for defending the city against those sea robbers.
The Tarragona of nineteenth century On June 28, 1811, Tarragona was stormed by the French army and the city remained occupied for two long years; it was one of the most tragic episodes in the recent memory of this city. This memory is still alive in the monuments erected to the heroes of the war against the French army; monuments that occupy a privileged place in the Rambla Nova. But the economic and social recovery of Tarragona finally arrived, and with it the free trade with America, while all this brought along the urban expansion of the city outside those walls that were raised in 1896. New streets were projected and they now make up the main artery of trade and entertainment of the city of Tarragona, and they include the Ramblas, Calle Unión, as well as new areas, such as the so-called Parte Baja, or Marina, which over time has become the engine of an economy that is open to the sea. It was at this time when the process of saving the remains of the Roman Tarraco began, and it has served as the basis for the construction of the Archaeological Museum that is now a must-see.
The gray days of Tarragona The postwar years of the Franco regime were a very difficult time for Tarragona, as it struggled between rationing and the black market In the 50s, a new recovery stage began with the arrival of the first chemical companies in the city, an event that boosted the constructions of new quarters, such as Sant Pere i Sant Pau, Sant Salvador, Torreforta, Camp Clar, etc. Over time, the port has become both a strategic location for this new industrial city and an engine for its economy.
Today’s Tarragona Today, the industrial growth and the economic expansion that has taken place in Tarragona in recent decades coexists with leisure, culture, and especially the preservation and enhancement of its rich architectural and historical heritage. The beauty of its coastline and beaches becomes united to the rhythm of a strong economy that the port provides, and to the traditional trade that can be found in those streets on which the patricians used to walk on their way to the Roman Forum; in short, it’s a city steeped in history and culture that continues its pace through its glorious past. Culture in Tarragona All sort of cultural expressions can be found and lived to the fullest by visiting museums, going to the movies or attending a play, a concert, or any sporting events, among others. Festivals and traditions Tarragona offers visitors a variety of traditional festivals, where citizens show their most enthusiastic side during those days of community culture that can be felt and enjoyed in the streets and squares of the city. The festivities begin with the magic and charm of the Magi in January; Carnival arrives in February; April gives way to the traditional festival of Sant Jordi; in June, the night of San Juan announces the arrival of the summer solstice; in July the International Fireworks Contest of Tarragona opens its doors to the world; in August, Sant Magí, the town’s small festivity; in September, the festival of Santa Tecla. And on the first October Sunday, and in even years, the traditional competition of Castells (human towers) fills with delight the hearts of the numerous visitor who crowd the streets of the city with visitors.
Music All styles of music have a place in the city. If you want to enjoy the great classics of the best symphonic music and attend performances by singer-songwriters, you have to go to Palau de Congresos of Tarragona, or pay a visit to the Camp de Mart where the International Music Festival of Tarragona takes place. It’s also noteworthy to mention the International Dixieland Festival, as well as the Underground Festival of Blues Film and Theatre Tarragona offers a very interesting theater program at the Metropol Theatre, where all sort of plays are performed for all audiences. The Youth Theatre Festival and the International Theatre Festival are two good examples of the quality of the performances. The “Camp de Mart” also becomes an outdoor stage in both spring and summer.
Beaches The golden Mediterranean beaches and the natural beauty of the Tarragona’s natural settings, such as the wildlife reserve of Gaià, represent another attraction spot that we can find in the city. Tarragona also offers the possibility to practice all kinds of water sports. The Royal Yacht Club, has a large marina, while light-sail sports can be practiced at the Club de Vela Playa Larga. The so-called Playa de Miracles stands out of the rest of beaches and is part of the entire coastline of the city; also, the Playa de l ‘Arrabassada at 5 kilometers north of the city is ideal for practicing jogging on sand.
Lleida (in Catalan, the co-official language of Catalonia) is a city situated in the north-east of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, and is the capital of the homonymous province.
The city of Lleida has a population of 139,834 inhabitants and its metropolitan area contains 363.900 inhabitants. It is, after Barcelona, the second Catalan city in importance in number of inhabitants, its municipal area has 211.7 square kilometers and it is one of the most extensive zones in Catalonia. Lleida is also the capital of the region known as Segriá.
There are evidences of settlements in the city of Lleida since at least the Bronze Age. Lleida became the principal city of the Ilergets -a group of Iberian individuals who called the city Iltirta- from the sixth century BC and until the Roman conquest. The Romans called it Ilerda and in Emperor Augustus’ time the village received the status of municipality. In 716-719 the city was invaded by the Muslims and re-conquered by the troops of Ramon Berenguer IV and Ermengol VI in 1149. In 1150 it received the Charter of City.
Under the Romans, the city was integrated into the province known as Hispania Tarraconensis, and became a place of considerable importance, not only historically but also geographically. It stood upon a height on the right (west) bank of the river Sicoris (the modern Segre), which is the main tributary of the Ebre and at some distance above its confluence with the Cinga (modern Cinca); This led to a commanding position of it over the region between those rivers, and the great road that had it origin in Tarraco, the modern Tarragona.
In 1297, James II founded the Estudio General de Lleida, which would be the first University of Catalonia and of the former Crown of Aragon, and the second of Spain behind the University of Salamanca (whose history background can be traced back to the University of Palencia). During the following centuries, the town was damaged by several wars, such as the Reapers’ War in the 17th century and the Spanish Civil War in the 20th century. Since then, the city has undergone a constant urban, commercial and demographic growth.
Among the cultural assets located in the municipality two cathedrals, La Seu Vella and La Seu Nova, the palace of La Paeria or the Antiguo Hospital de Santa María are worth to be mentioned. As to cultural facilities, the new Diocesan Museum of the region, the Municipal Auditorium, Enric Granados, the Theatre “del Escorxador”, and the future Museum of Science and Climate are also remarkable .
Lleida is a major hub of services and is the city of reference as to hospital care, educational and cultural activities, and entertainment, etc., as it covers a wide area that includes some of the administrative divisions of the province of Lleida, as well as some of the Aragon province. The area of commercial influence of Lleida has, according to an economic study, 497 678 inhabitants.
The city’s economy is mainly based on the service sector, which employs 71.4% of the population, and is followed by the industry sector (13.1%), construction and agriculture (4.2% ). The Fira de Lleida (an annual trade exhibition) is already the second in importance behind the Fira de Barcelona. The aim of the aforementioned “Fira de Lleida” is to promote the commercial activity of the area s market and contribute to the progress of the so-called “conference tourism.” In 2010, Lleida presented the Llotja of Lleida, a new building that functions as both a conference hall and theater.
The city is well connected by road, motorways and highways. The A-2 and AP-2 connect Lleida with Madrid and Barcelona) and the A-22 and A-14 with Huesca and Viella, respectively. As to public transport, Lleida has an important railway station from which high-speed, long-distance, regional and a future commuter train depart every single day. Various trunk lines connect Lleida with virtually all towns and cities around it. As to internal mobility, Lleida has a network of 23 city bus lines. Since January 2010, Lleida has an airport that is located at 15 km from the city.
Girona is a city located in the northeast of Catalonia, and is the regional capital of the Girona province and of the administrative region known as Gironés. It is included, according to the General Terrirorial Plan of Catalonia, in the administrative region of Girona and in the Urban System, The city lies at the confluence of four rivers Ter, Onyar, Güell and Galligants, and at a height of 75 m above sea level. It limits on Sant Julia de Ramis to the north, on Sarria de Ter Celrà to the east, on both Juià and Quart to south-east, on Fornells de la Selva, Vilablareix and Salt to the south-west, and on St. Gregory to the west.
The city of Girona had 97,656 inhabitants in 2012. Its Historic city center, or Old Quarter, is one of the most evocative of Catalonia, with monumental elements that are unique in Europe. It is limited by the so-called Passeig de la Murallal, a night-watch road that encircles the ancient walls, which date from the Charlemagne period (IX century) and the Middle Ages (XIV and XV centuries). Its monuments include the Call (one of the best preserved old Jewish Quarters in Spain); as well as the famous and colorful Cases de l’Onyar; and a very large central nave in the Cathedral, which is the widest of the Gothic style.
Geography and climate
The climate of Girona is Mediterranean and within the limits of the fundamental characteristic of this type of climate -the summer drought is barely perceived some years in the Girona area, with an oscillation between cold winters and hot summers, with temperatures above 30ºC/86ºF; while frosts are common-between December and February, all of which determines a more extreme climate than that found in the coastline, although far from those extreme levels found in the continental interior regions of Catalonia.
Girona is within the temperate zone. Average temperatures range between 13ºC/55.4ºF and 17°C/62.6ºF. The province is colder compared to the North and the West, while warmer areas are located on the coast (as this is influenced by the warm sea water of the Mediterranean). Temperatures in the mountains are always lower than those measured in the plain, although they are warmer on the coast. Frosts are related to the low temperatures and they indeed represent a serious danger; nevertheless, only the coastal strip of Girona is almost exempt from this phenomenon. The frequency of rainfall is higher in the east and the mountains, and lower in the flat lands.
Foundation of Gerunda (The old Girona)
The first settlers were the Iberians, who belonged to the indiget tribes, and who were located at villages on the high areas surrounding the plains of Girona, such as the gorge where is found the current village known as Sant Julia de Ramis. During the wars of Sertorius (82-72 BC), around 77 BC Pompeu erected an oppidum (fortified stronghold) on the Via Heraclea (the future Via Augusta) in order to defend the city and fight against the seditious Sertorius, and against the popular factions that had, which had risen in arms in the Roman Hispania against Sulla, of the optimates faction, which controlled the power in Rome.
That is why, and for military needs, the Roman citizens of that time founded the original Girona, which was known at that time as Gerunda, the etymology of which has not yet been clarified, although it could mean “between Undarius “which was the name given to the current river Onyar.in the Iberian language.
The new city of Gerunda became home to the ancient inhabitants of the town of Sant Julia de Ramis, who apparently were forced to move to the Girona oppidum. The Roman Girona became the defensive bulwark erected at the entry of the Via Augusta towards Hispania, and became an important center of the region thanks to the establishment of a Roman military emplacement around the city of Girona. In summary, both units made up the cities of Girona, which was the basic and essential part of the territorial Roman organization. Although Gerunda was located in the inland and away from the coast, it had a good connection with the Roman port Empúries, which represented the first Roman stronghold in northeastern mainland that was colonized during the Second Punic War together with the Greek settlement, which in fact was already present at that time.