Girona’s history, legends, and beauty

Steve and I learned so much about Girona’s history, legends, and beauty on our full-day tour. It was a magical day of discoveries. Our driver, Joaquin, and guide Vicente picked us up at our hotel, and five lovely ladies in the middle of a fabulous girls’ trip made up the rest of our tour group.

As is usually the case when we travel to new places, I had almost no knowledge about Girona. I learned, however, during my research that there are many reasons to visit the beautiful Catalonian city of Girona, Spain. The same goes for the town of Tarragona we toured just the day before.

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

In addition to being a beautiful and walkable city, Girona is an ancient city with a fascinating history and fantastic legends. We were very excited to have ten total hours to experience this area, but as is usually the case, it was nowhere near enough time to explore it fully. A return trip, maybe?

Our tour visited only the old historic portion of the city; however, Girona has a population of over 100,000. Its old section contains medieval architecture and narrow cobblestone streets, and the modern area includes excellent shops, restaurants, a university, and a vibrant and trendy vibe.

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

View of the Onyar River while standing on the Eiffel bridge

Girona Flower Festival – Girona Temps de Flors

It turned out the Girona Flower Festival was winding up its last day on the day of our visit. This festival has been an annual event in Girona since 1954. What a great surprise. We saw many different types of floral displays. Each display is numbered and identified for judging.

Human Towers of Catalonia

We were fortunate to witness the gathering organization of one of Catalonia’s human pyramid towers. We did not have time to stay for the tower building, and Vicente magically whisked us away from the area in a flash before we became trapped for several hours during the construction of the human tower.

These human pyramids, first documented in 1801 in nearby Tarragona, are a central part of festivals and celebrations in Spain. I am sure it is quite a sight to see in person, but I worry about the small children that climb to the top.

Girona’s beloved flies

Why are flies so beloved, esteemed, and respected in Girona? Well, flies are solely responsible in 1286 for saving Girona from the French army during one of the many sieges and attacks the French orchestrated against Girona through the years.

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

In the process of ransacking the church of Sant Feliu, the French broke open the tomb of Narcissus (“Narcis”), a bishop martyred in the 4th century, and swarms of stinging flies flew out. These flies chased each one of the soldiers away from the entire city.

For this reason, flies are known as the defender of Girona’s patron saint, Narcis. When visiting Girona, take a moment to touch one of Saint Narcis’ stone sculpture flies displayed on the building walls and ask for a miracle for yourself. It can’t hurt, right?

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

The city’s main festival, the Fires de Sant Narcis, is held yearly to honor Saint Narcis and the flies. It takes place in October each year and lasts ten days. The festival is supposed to keep flies away for the year. Saint Narcis is also said to be the patron saint of mosquito bites!

If you can visit Girona, look in the shops; you will find all types of fly souvenirs, magnets, plush toys, planters, and even enamel pins. I regret that we did not purchase a fly souvenir when we had the chance. It definitely would be a conversation piece.

Saint Narcis’ foot

A great legend we heard is that, between AD 304 and 307, Saint Narcis, while attempting to escape Christian persecutors, climbed out of the window of a house. He had the foresight to leave an imprint of his foot on the window facing inward so it would appear that he was entering the house.

Narcis’ pursuers observed the footprint and spent enough time searching for him inside the house that he had time to make his escape and avoid capture. Great story, huh?

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

I believe this is why Saint Narcis’ large sandaled foot sculpture is on display. Our guide, Vicente, encouraged us to rub the foot sculpture for good luck. So far, that good luck is holding for us!

El Tarlà

El Tarla is the subject of another great legend from Girona. The story goes that during the plague in Girona, an entire road, Calle Argenteria, came to be quarantined (sound familiar?) to prevent the dreaded bubonic plague from spreading. The street became shut off on both ends with reed bars.

The residents became depressed and bored (again, familiar?) One of the residents, El Tarla, began doing acrobatics on the bar to distract and cheer up his neighbors. Some years later, a doll wearing jester clothing was built in homage to El Tarla and was in place for us to see during our visit.

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

Game of Thrones

We are not Game of Throne fans, and after one attempt to watch the series, we decided it wasn’t something for us. We did learn from Vicente, however, that the Girona Cathedral appeared in the filming of the 6th season. Do you recognize it?

Girona's history, legends, and beauty


We encountered cyclists everywhere and learned that Girona is one of Europe’s favorite cycling destinations because of the many diverse roads in the area. I saw many cyclists along the route. Some appeared to be of professional caliber, but many weekend cyclist families were among them.

The medieval village of Pals

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

The town of Pals is picture-perfect, just as you might expect a medieval village to look, with very narrow cobblestone streets. I believe just one or two families live here year-round, and the town and its gift shops are open for tourism only during the tourist season.

Fishing village of Calella de Palafurgell

Girona's history, legends, and beauty

Calella de Palafrugell is a small, friendly resort town in northeastern Catalonia’s Costa Brava). Terrific souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars line the main street. We encountered several small beaches along the shoreline. The water was icy, although I did dip my toes in that beautiful Medeterrian sea.

Salvador Dali

We visited Dali’s museum in St. Augustine, Florida, not too long ago, but have also enjoyed an opportunity to see his museum in Figueres. Dali’s birthplace and family home are in Figueres, just a few miles from Calella.

This Viator tour Girona History, Legends, and Food Walking Tour, is another tour I would enjoy – next time. Girona is home to many more stories and fascinating legends, but these are all we had time to learn about during our long day visit. See 42 Magical Stories “Legends of Girona” for more.

We were delighted with our day outing to Girona and Costa Brava, bringing fantastic memories home. As you can tell, there is much more history to learn about the city of Girona; but we did learn about a few great legends and stories and it’s these stories we enjoy most.

Girona\'s history, legends, and beautyGirona\'s history, legends, and beautyGirona\'s history, legends, and beauty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *