Sitges is pronounced “Sid-ges” in Catalan . It’s a town in the Spanish district of Barcelona, found in the region of Catalonia. This charming coastal town sits on the Mediterranean coast. 38 kilometres south of the provincial capital of Barcelona. Its population in 2017 was 28,527. The district of Sitges is located in the Garraf region.
References to the first inhabitants of Sitges go back to the pre-Neolithic era. However, documents show definite evidence that there was an Iberian settlement here, in the 4th-century BC.
Some studies confirm that by the 1st-century AD, the town had two small population centres. One centre was around the hill of La Punta and another towards the hermitage of Vinyet. Together with Olérdola Roman, Sitges served as a point of exchange for goods from the Penedes region and other area in the Roman Mediterranean.
The Middle Ages
In 188 AD, during the Middle Ages, a castle was built on top of the hill of Punta. This is where the town hall stands today.
In the 12th-century, Sitges fell under the control of a noble family, who adopted the name of the town as their surname. Documents show the lineage of the family from 1116 to 1308 when Agnes de Sitges sold their Castellanía rights to Bernat de Fonollar.
During recent centuries, inhabitants have organised life around the hill of Baluard. Three towers still exist on the hill at different points in the town, originating in 1303.
The 18th century
In the 18th-century, many Sitgetans established colonies on the western coast of the Gulf of Cádiz. This colonisation was because the best fishing conditions were found in that area. The region also had the best access to trade with America. Over time, the fishermen of Sitges contributed to the founding of the current Isla Cristina, together with others from Mataró and Canet de Mar. Even today, they still use Catalan words both in their vocabulary and the surnames of their descendants – Miravent, Giralt, Cabot, among others, still continue on.
The primary economic activity of the town was vineyards. The Malvasía variety of grape from this area is famous because it leads to the production of Malvasia wine. Also grown locally in the past were wheat, fruit, and carob. Additionally, palm hearts grew well here and this plant is the symbol of Garraf.
In 1345, Villafranca del Penedés asked for authorisation to create a port in Sitges. Subsequently, the town became the commercial outlet for the region’s trading activities.
During the Modern Age, the University of Sitges (City Hall) worked hard to free itself from the lordly domain of Pia Almoina. In 1814, Sitges was liberated definitively. However, the economic activity continued to thrive, especially fishing and the export of locally caught fish.
Port activity grew from the 18th-century as did direct trade with America. Trade with American colonies became established from the end of the 18th-century until the beginning of the 19th-century.
Port of Ginesta
Today the town has an extensive tourist infrastructure with three marinas, Port Ginesta, Garraf and Aiguadolç. Therefore Sitges claims to be the town with the most marinas in Spain. Port Ginesta is the largest marina in Europe. In addition to tourism, the population focuses its trade on fishing among other commercial activities.