Located on the Costa Brava just east of the city of Girona is the incredible Village Medieval de Pals. Beautifully situated on a hill that overlooks a rice field, this restored and well-preserved medieval village offers stunning 360-degree views of Sierra de l'Albera, Canigo, Montgri Massif and the Medes Islands. The perfect day trip for those vacationing in Barcelona and the surrounding area, Village Medieval de Pals is filled with historical sites and many wonderful things to see and do.
A Bit of History
Village Medieval de Pals is made up of the castle, the surrounding town and the fortified walls, and the castle was first referred to as Castellarum Montis Rough. It most likely existed long before it was officially documented in 889 when the records indicate that its name was changed to Mont-Aspre Castle after France's King Odon I provided funds for its upkeep. In 994, historical records show that Barcelona Counts Ramon Borell and Ermessenda gave up power of both the Tower of Pals and the San Pere Church to the Bishop of Girona, and things had changed again by the end of the century to place the property under the private ownership of the Gausfred Vidal family.
Barcelona once again captured the lordship of Pals in 1065. Unfortunately, many battles were fought in the area during the War of Remesas, which ran from 1380 to 1482. Those activities, which were led by revolting peasants, ultimately led to the Catalan Civil War against Juan II, and the castle was left in ruins. In an effort to recover from the war, stones from the fallen castle were used to rebuild the walls and the San Pere Church. Only the castle's nearly 50-foot circular Tower of Hours was left standing.
Thanks to the efforts of a local doctor, Village Medieval de Pals was restored over a period of some 30 years. It was declared a Site of Historical Interest in 1973 and has been welcoming visitors since that time.
Village Medieval de Pals Highlights
Visitors are advised to bring their walking shoes for comfort while exploring Village Medieval de Pals. Most begin by taking a stroll from the village up to the the area where the great castle once stood, and four massive towers, including the Tower of Hours, stand linked by the impressive ramparts. Just above this area is the Sant Pere Church, which has been around for more than 1,000 years. The church is a wonderful mix of history, and visitors will find an 18th-century bell tower and a Romanesque base with touches of both Gothic and Baroque elements. At the highest point of Village Medieval de Pals is the mirador Joep Pla,which offers the best views in the entire village.
The fortified museum, Museu-Casa de Cultura Ca La Pruna, is a popular stopping point. Construction of the structure began in the 15th century and was finished by the 16th century, and it houses some 500 objects that include an exhibition of Catalan wines, rooms in an early Catalan farmhouse, early farming tools, weights and measures and a replica of a pharmacy from the 18th century. The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is also housed at this location, and it contains many displays, which include an English warship that was sank in 1802 during the siege of the Roses.
The village itself also offers something wonderful at every turn. There are lovely Gothic touches throughout the village that include pointed arches on the windows and doorways, many turrets and narrow, winding cobblestone paths. Several shops are open, and most offer unique Catalan pottery that is made right in town. Visitors are also welcome to enjoy a meal from one of the many restaurants, and several of these offer outdoor seating. There are a few excellent art galleries in the village that are definitely worth a visit as well.
Just below the village is the popular Playa de Pals Beach, which offers nearly 8,000 feet of gorgeous coastline, is beautifully surrounded by rocky cliffs and boasts crystal-clear water. Be advised that this beach requires a rather steep climb down to the water. Just south of this beach is another that is more suited to those traveling with children or elderly family members. Grau Beach offers more shallow waters that are also calmer, and many water activities are available that include snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding with equipment rentals available onsite. As an added bonus, a stunning golf course is also located near these beaches.
Ways to Explore
Because Village Medieval de Pals has been carefully restored, most all of the areas have been built for easy access by foot and are suitable for both wheelchairs and strollers. Visitors are more than welcome to come explore the area on their own, and there are several local tour companies that offer guided tours as well.