A visit to Girona in the Mediterranean allows you to enjoy one of Spain’s most historic sites. The town is in the northeast of Catalonia, just 99 km from Barcelona. Over the decades, Girona has been influenced by many different cultures and religions. The city beckons visitors with its beautiful architecture in both the old and new town areas.
Girona airport sees more than 2.2 million passengers per year
Girona airport was built in 1965 when passenger traffic was quite modest. The early 2000s saw passenger numbers grow quite spectacularly after Ryanair chose Girona to be one of its premier European hubs. From 2002 to 2008 passenger numbers increased almost ten-fold, from just over 500,000 to more than 5.5 million. However, half the financial gain of this period was lost due to the economic crash. Over the next four years, 2.8 million passengers have used the airport. 2014 saw no less than 2.2 million passengers pass through.
The city airport is convenient for many of the resorts along the Costa Brava, such as Lloret de Mar, l’Estartit and Blanes. It is also an alternative option instead of using the Barcelona Airport. It is about a 40-minute drive to the French border, so many people use Girona Airport to get to the Pyrenees ski resorts and Andorra. Connections are also available to the Balearic islands.
The Romans built and named the citadel Gerunda before the Visigoths ruled Girona. The Moors then took it over in 715. Charlemagne reconquered in 785 AD making it one of the fourteen original counties of Catalonia. The Moors recaptured again in 793 AD, keeping it until the Christians finally drove them out. The city repeatedly changed hands between the Moors and their adversaries. After all the fighting, Wilfred the Hairy incorporated Girona into the County of Barcelona in 878 AD. Title to the City would pass around many times over the years. Princess Leonor of Asturias currently carries the title to the City.
During the 12th-century, Girona’s Jewish community flourished, having one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in Europe. The presence of Jewish people in Girona came to an end in 1492, when the Catholic Monarchs outlawed Judaism throughout Spain. Jews had no choice. They had to either convert to the Catholic faith or face exile. Today, the Jewish quarter is one of the best-preserved in all of Europe and is a major tourist attraction.
Seven months of siege
Girona endured twenty-five sieges and many conquests over the last few centuries. In May 1809, it was besieged by 35,000 French Napoleonic troops under Vergier, Augereau and St. Cyr. The city held out and resisted the siege thanks to the leadership of Alvarez. Still, disease and famine compelled Girona’s inhabitants to surrender on the 12th December, having held out for seven months.
The city walls became severely damaged during the battle for the French conquest. Since then, the missing parts of the walls on the city’s eastern side have undergone reconstruction. Named ¨Passeig de la Muralla¨, this now forms a tourist route around the city’s old part.