Girona by Pla

Josep Pla (Palafrugell March the 8th 1897- Llofriu April the 23rd 1981) writer and journalist, is considered one of the great references of Catalan literature. His original and extensive work covers in an almost uninterrupted way six decades and more than 30,000 pages collected in his Obra Completa (47 volumes) with an exquisite, clear, precise and sober prose, where he recreates in the description of his closest environment.

Pla is still one of the most read authors of Catalan Literature and he has been unanimously considered as its most important prose writer of the 20th Century. “Girona, un llibre de records” is part of this literary work and becomes a clear example of his prose, in this case an extraordinary memoirs piece from his youth, narrating and analyzing the town passionately when he discovered it for the very first time.

At the age of thirteen Pla left Palafrugell with a chariot and reached Girona. The first feeling was impressive. His experiences and memories were written in 1952 in a superb volume that is still nowadays a recommended reading for everyone who wishes to know the city guided by one of the most remarkable writers from the country.

The texts and the pictures chosen for this Guide can help the visitor to delve into the beginning of last Century Girona which Pla described brilliantly in his book.

Girona Josep Pla
Girona Josep Pla Llofriu

7 most important descriptions of Josep Pla

1. Palau del Vescomptat

The “Palau del Vescomptat” has a wonderful and wide arch that we crossed on foot leaving on our left the shining and golden staircase – with a bit of grass in the joint of the stones- on which there is the sitting of the Seminary church. On this church façade there is a huge stone relief representing St Martí riding his horse and cutting the layer to a poor man lying under the animal’s legs.

Girona Seminary church

2. Plaça del Vi

The Plaça del Vi is a divinely proportioned rectangular square, with arcades on the right and on the left and the Ciutadans Street at its end. In front of these arcades we understood that we were face to face with our forefather’s Magnus Opus, that our tradition dated back from the curves of those narrow streets, that Girona was the capital of our humanity and our maximum natural manners. When saw them we became engrossed in our thoughts and instinctively we went to touch the stones in the arcades and we placed our backs in the heavy slightly curved columns which supported them. Not to mention that the shape of our backs coincided with the curve of the column, and this perfect matching made us think that later, at death’s door, our bodies would also fit in this clement hospitable land.

Girona vi square

3. Pont de Pedra

With this the “Pont de Pedra” appeared on the scene, crowned by the anachronistic little fort of Alfons the XII emerging over the houses. Leaning on the bridge parapet, we gazed the majestic bell tower of the cathedral, the one of Sant Feliu, full of a proud and distant humility, the houses hanging over the cloudy water of the Onyar river.

Girona stone bridge

4. Nou street

We took Nou street. We stood with our mouths opened in front of the shop windows, we were impressed by the rows of balconies, the high houses, we saw some few ladies with a hat on, gentlemen and young ones wearing a hat, collar and tie. We had the impression to be in an important world.

Girona New Street

5. Rambla de la LLibertat

From the Plaça del Vi along Abreuadors street we reached the Plaça de les Cols (today Rambla de la LLibertat) where the domestic animals market takes place. Before getting there we began to hear the noise of the poultry and straws, in the wicker baskets. Under the skeletal trees the sun was shining and you could see all street market until the Argenteria. Among the hens, the chickens, the gooses, the ducks the rabbits and the eggs such a feverish mixing was produced of farmers, poulterers, spellbound ones, foreigners, maids, locals and strollers.

Girona freedom avenue

6. The arcades of Rosés

The arcades of Rosés are not as old as the ones in the Plaça de les Cols and the Plaça del Vi. They present also a more austere style and the surrounding houses do not seem to be made of materials as good as the others. Some of them have herbs in the cornices and in the walls, some moss and damp patches. The ceilings are not curved but they have whitened buckwheats covered by dust and spiderwebs. The extreme pillars are kept by strong buttress.

Girona arcades roses

7. Roofs on Girona

The roofs on Girona have a unique richness of color. Over a general shade ocher-colored, ripe apricots, silver grey, full of little mosses and cryptogrammic red, greenish, golden vegetation, the observer displays the fantasy of the opened or curved roofs, the eccentric grotesque gracefulness of the chimneys, the tower bells of the churches and the monasteries, the laundry white clothes hanged out, the trees in the reclosed gardens, the pronounced, sinuous incisions of streets and squares, the strange big cases of the pigeon lofts, the roof henhouses, the extravagant architectonic caprices that crown the houses.

Girona wall