ALONG THE ROAD OF THE INVASIONS
It first grew up as a Roman colony located at the foot of an oppidum along Via Augusta, which was the great Roman road which extended along via Domizia and crossed the Pyrenees from the Panissar pass, following the eastern coast of the Spanish peninsula, reaching the Column of Hercules, the Gibraltar of today.
This new colony was fortified by walling on the top part, which still partially stands despite the repeated modifications to it during the course of the centuries. It was converted to Christianity in the 3rd century and in fact Gerona is the home of the Happy martyr, a basilica in his name having been built over his tomb. In the 4th century it became a bishop’s see for the Tarragona province. A Visgothic province, it was occupied by the Saracens for a brief period and subsequently conquered by the Franks in 785. Before entering the Carolingian era.
In the Middle Ages the town was the capital of a contado which was later integrated into a federation from which Catalonia was later born. This was a boom period during which many elegant monuments were built. It also has an important Jewish quarter.Its strategic position along the route leading to France meant that it was subject to frequent occupation during the Spanish wars. In the 19th century Gerona became an industrial centre, and is still one today. Although it has expanded, its medieval centre remains largely intact, having been excellently restored. Today the old town is one of the most interesting in Catalonia, thanks to its great monumental heritage.
Gerona boasts numerous monuments worthy of note. We recommend a visit on foot, starting from the Galligants quarter. The Sant Pere square houses the small church of San Nicolao (11th-12th century) and the Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants with its triple nave abbatial church, 12th century cloister and an important lapidary collection. The apse provides a wonderful view of the upper town dominated by the Lombard bell-tower of the cathedral. Proceeding the road which passes the river we reach the Arab Baths, a building dating back to the late 12th century, and very similar in style to the ancient spa baths. The first room houses a bath dominated by elegant columns dominated by a perforated dome. On leaving the basilica of Saint Felice on our right we come to the door of the ancient town walls of Roman and Medieval origins.
The layout of the cathedral square is designed as a theatrical scene, with an imposing baroque flight of steps leading to the church. The building of the cathedral of Santa Mary began in 1312 and it was conceived as being a Gothic 3-naved church.. However a change in plan meant that the church instead was built with a single nave covered by a ogival vault which is the largest of its kind in the world (25 metres). The Romanesque chancel is decorated with sculpted capitals. The bishop’s museum contains true artistic masterpieces such as the magnificent “Tapestry of Creation”.
A day is scarcely enough to enjoy everything that Gerona has to offer :including an Art museum, ancient roads flanked by Medieval buildings, flights of steps of Baroque perspective, the University of the Convent of Saint Dominic, walks along the town walls or Passeig archeologic, or the multicoloured facades along the Onyar river, the Jewish road, the shady avenues and the “art nouveau” architecture.
THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE CABALA
Gerona is a secretive town which slowly reveals itself. Having an apparently cold external appearance the town appears to be rather different to the typical stereotype of a Spanish town. Certain parts of it, featuring small alleys and streets are reminiscent of Italian town models. In fact a variety of different eras and styles appear to blend together in total harmony here.The Jewish quarter, which is one of the most important in Europe and probably the best conserved, still retains an intrinsic medieval feel. It was here that the Jewish scholars conceived the Cabala, the influence of which was felt throughout Europe.