Girona has a deep, rich history that isn't necessarily visible from the surface. These museums and historical locations can help to understand what shaped Girona, its culture and its people.
If you love Romanic and Gothic art, make a beeline for Girona's Art Museum. The centre, which was founded in 1976 in the former Palau Epsicopal (Episcopal Palace) of Girona, houses one of Catalonia's largest collections of art from those two periods. In addition, you can view Girona art from different movements: Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Realism, Modernisme and 'Noucentisme' (turn-of-the-century). Still want more? At the Museu d'Art you'll also find rooms dedicated to ceramics, glass, art belonging to the Catholic liturgy, and temporary exhibitions. You should also take advantage of seeing the unique features of the Palau itself: the Throne Room, Episcopal Prison, Bishop's Chapel and the Viewpoint, which offers one of the best views of Girona.
This is paradise for cinephiles. The Cinema Museum in Girona invites you to discover the gadgets that stunned our grandparents and, at the same time, take a tour through the history of cinema: from shadow theatre to the magic lantern, from photography to the cinematography of the Lumière brothers, from Mèliés to TV via Griffith and the peerless Charlie Chaplin. Opened in 1998 in the former Casa de les Aigües, the Museu del Cinema organises a wide range of courses, activities and exhibitions: film screenings, specialised courses, workshops for children... And, of course, you can always lose yourself in the Tomàs Mallol collection, containing some 20,000 cinema-related items gathered by the late Catalan director.
As many people are aware, Girona once housed one of the most important Jewish communities in the Western world, and, still today, it contains one of Europe's most important Jewish neighbourhoods ('Call' in Catalan). The Jewish History Museum, located in the Bonastruc ça Porta centre, seeks to explain the history of Catalonia's Jewish communities. The Museum has 11 different rooms that take visitors on a tour of the daily lives, culture and history of Jewish communities around the region and in Girona itself during the medieval period. The building, coincidentally, is situated in the space in the Call that was once occupied by the synagogue and its outbuildings in the 15th century.
La Fontana d'Or, a Gothic and Romanic palace created at the start of the 12th century and declared a National Historic Monument in 1921. is currently the headquarters of CaixaForum in Girona. The civil architecture building covers four floors - basement, ground floor and two upper floors. Located on C/Ciutadans, L'Obra Social LaCaixa offers a wide range of social, cultural and educational activities: workshops, classical music concerts, debates, exhibitions, theatre and even courses on such diverse topics as art, music, thought, science and theatrical arts, as well as family activities.
The Girona Archaeology Museum (Museu d'Arqueologia de Girona or MAC), located in the Monestir de Sant Pere Galligants, houses archaeological material found during various digs around Girona, material whose dates range from prehistory to the Middle Ages: remains from Empúries, headstones and sculptures from the Roman settlement of Gerunda and medieval inscriptions, to name but a few. The building itself is also well worth a visit: the Sant Pere Galligants Monastery is one of the most notable examples of Catalan Romanesque architecture from the 12th century. Until 1975, when Girona's Museu d'Art was created, the MAC also hosted art collections in its role as the Belles Arts Museum.
The 'House of Culture', situated in the very heart of the city, is a private cultural foundation promoted by the Diputació of Girona, with the goal of making both the management of the centre and cultural initiatives undertaken around the province more efficient. You can enjoy temporary art exhibitions, courses on a range of subjects such as the humanities, psychology and languages, seasons, and music concerts.
The German Gardens, in the heart of the Old Town, are full of history: you can still see the remains of the old barracks that were the residence for German soldiers of fortune who had been sent to Girona during the 19th-century Peninsular War. In the gardens you'll also find the Lightning Tower - if you climb up it (there´s a staircase to get to the wall), don't forget your camera because the views of Girona are amazing. And while the park is ideal for a walk, it also hosts lots of musical activities and historical reenactments from the Peninsular War.
The Benedictine Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants is one of the most important Catalan Romanic landmarks. It was built close to the northern wall of the city, on the left bank of the Galligants rivers. Even though the foundation date of the monastery isn't known, there is documentation about it that dates from the end of the 10th century. It's also known that in 1131, Ramón Berenguer the Great (who was Count of Barcelona) made an important donation to the cost of the construction work. It has a basilica with three naves, the middle of which is covered with barrel vault and the other two with quadrant vaults. The layout of the apse on the north side and the archaic portal - which are both quite unusual - has given rise to the belief that they come from a different building that was previously on the site. It's been the headquarters of the Archaeology Museum since 1857.