Far from the typical Girona sights captured on postcards and from the Stendhal Syndrome that its awe-inspiring art can induce, you should seek out new spaces, discover beauty where at first you may think it doesn't exist. Here are (our) suggestions for the most beautiful Girona.
In Plaça de l'Assumpció, in the neighbourhood of Sant Narcís, this fishmonger's still retains the charm of traditional establishments, thanks to the friendliness and approachability of its staff, as well as the blue and white tiles and the marble counter where the preparation of fish that they do each day is like a gift from God.
Some people says it's the ugliest building in Girona. And of course, that's just where its interest lies – if you look at it closely, this strange edifice of iron and glass, which turns out to be partially protected as an asset of local cultural interest thanks to its façade and interior ramp shaped like a snail, actually has its own charm. The building dates from 1956 and is the work of architect Joan Maria de Ribot. If it was well restored it would be ideal for housing various businesses: a gym, a fast-food restaurant or a huge bar. It'll probably end up as a block of flats.
Located behind the special education centre of Mas Abella and the municipal centre for not-for-profit associations (called the 'hotel d'entitats'), there's a piece of forest that's ideal for a stroll, with paths and a peacefulness that's unusual to find just a few metres from busy roads.
Banks of the river Onyar
The upper side of the river Onyar heading upstream, in the eastern part of Girona, is a marvellous spot to go walking that, curiously, has been a little abandoned by the powers that be. A quality footbridge for crossing from one side of the river Onyar to the other would make it much easier to visit the area, and improve the life of residents in that area of the city.
Casa Dalmau and Casa Rigau
The street of Portal Nou is a narrow alley that, sometimes, doesn't let passers-by properly admire some of the architectural marvels that it houses. Such as the Dalmau and Rigau houses, the work of architect Joan Roca Pinet in his period of formal rationalism. The best way to observe these two houses, which are very close together, is perched on the city wall ('muralla') of Girona.
In the eastern part of Girona, in La Creueta, stands the H2O building of the ICRA (Institut Català de la Recerca de l'Aigüa; Catalan Institute for Water Research). We recommend you look at this peculiar construction carefully, surrounded as it is by a curious kind of skin made of wooden slats, which gives it a strange but fascinating appearance.
It's the contrasts found in the complex made up of Can Ninetes, an old stone farmhouse that's been converted into one of the most active civic centres in Girona, and just behind it La Marfà, a reconstructed industrial facility that is just as busy hosting rehearsals, classrooms and a small utility room, that creates the appeal of this spot.
The Coma Cros factory, which is currently a 'cultural factory', is one of the most impressive remains from the industrial past of Catalonia, specifically the textile industry. With its endless process of restoration and readjustment so that it can take on new functions, it's awe-inspiring to see the large spaces full of columns where the machines once sat. On the right, El Canal scenic arts centre stands out from the rest of the building thanks to its metallic thermoregulating covering.
In Sant Julià de Ramis, on the mountain of Sants Metges, you'll discover the vestiges of the very first Girona, which was called Kerunta, on an Iberian site that is less visited by Girona residents than it really should be. Go! The views of the city are spectacular and, what's more, you can discover the origins of the municipality's history.
Bridge over the Ter
Inaugurated in March 2015, this maligned infrastucture (due to its expense and superfluousness), which is the extension of Av. de Josep Tarradellas and connects the neighbourhoods of Sant Ponç and Pedret, combines concrete and steel in a harmonious way, managing to create a structure with shapes that are visually attractive and pure; the lighting at night does much to encourage these sensations.
You don't have to be a member of the GEiEG (Grup Excursionista i Esportiu Gironi; Girona Hiking and Sporting Group) to get into the stands of the only athletics stadium that there is in Girona on a day of competition. The setting is beautiful, in the middle of the forests of Palau, and the regular green of the central field of the track blends in with the multitoned greens in the woods all around. What's more from the stands you get a privileged view of the eastern part of the city and beyond, to Quart and Llambilles.
The diaphanous hall of café-theatre La Planeta is one of the most beautiful interior spaces in the city, With a restored ceiling of original Catalan vaulting, this building (before it welcomed one of the best theatres in the country) was a factory of Catalan espadrilles ('espardenyes') with ribbons for tying around the legs, and later was a garage for coach company Sarfa on the ground floor and a hostal for bullfighters who came to perform in Girona on the upper floor.
The neighbourhood of Pont Major, which is considered a 'passing-through' district by the majority of Giona residents, is also home to a number of architectural gems, among which are the Regàs i Gerunda distilleries. They're the work of architect Enric Catà (1878-1937) and have a clear modernista influence. It's worth stopping to contemplate the two façades with exposed tiles. And if you go in, it's also an experience.