Exploring the Medieval Village of Besalu

Posted on 07. Mar, 2012 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, Press Trips, Spain

After staying overnight in Cadaques, I was pretty sure this Catalonia trip could not get any better. I mean, luxury villas, Mediterranean Sea and Dali? But that was before we were taken to Besalu, a small village located further inland. I hadn’t read much about it before and therefore had no expectations, but to say I was happily surprised is a slight understatement – I was completely blown away! Besalu is the kind of village that you immediately feel at ease in, with welcoming locals and charming cobblestone streets going in every direction. The perfect addition to any trip!

Besalu Bridge

Touring Besalu doesn’t take more than a few hours, as it is pretty small. Logically, you could start your visit at the end of the famous medieval bridge that overlooks the area. Its foundations go back to the Roman times, as does the rest of the town. Besalu was actually a kingdom before Barcelona became the capital of Catalonia, and it was quite wealthy due to its geographical position.

Once you have crossed the bridge, there are various paths that lead to the river from which you can enjoy the bridge in its entire splendor. Take the time, along the way, to observe the many little quirks of the medieval streets and Plaça de la Libertat – that’s the best part!

Besalu's center

On your way back up to the village, you might stumble upon the 12th century Jewish Baths, called the Miqwé. While ancient baths are usually Arab or Roman, these are one of the few Jewish Baths in Europe, and a very important landmark in Besalu.

Eventually, you will end up at Plaça Prat de St. Pere, where you will find the famous roman monastery, founded in the year 977 – that’s right, a millennium ago! It’s a traditional Roman church, meaning that it’s very cold, very dark, and old as dirt - but so interesting! Laurel, one of the travel bloggers in our group, asked why the tombs all had a death skull carved on them; that’s actually because the monks believed that in death, we are all equals, and that the skull is a testimony of that. Interesting concept!

St. Pere Church

Another great activity in Besalu is the Museum of Miniatures, also located on the Plaça Prat de St. Pere.  Microscopic bull rings and insects? Yes please. It’s only a short visit, but a definitely a quirky addition to your trip. Both Plaças, St. Pere and Libertat, are the ideal place to enjoy a coffee after a few hours of walking around Besalu, and wind down while trying to decipher the Catalan conversations around.

But despite the beauty of the village, I think my favorite part was in reality the villa. Behind its traditional façade, it is surprisingly modern and spacious on the inside. 12 bedrooms, each with ensuite, a swimming pool, a lovely courtyard, a 35 seat dining table, and a 1200m² garden, ideal for an al fresco lunch. It was a lovely place to stay, and quite reasonable in pricing (as opposed to other villas). I could actually see myself and a dozen friends rent this place for a week to explore Catalonia’s corners!

Our villa in Besalu - and al fresco lunch!

Have you been to Besalu before? What do you look for in villages when traveling? What’s your favorite Catalan village?

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18 Responses to “Exploring the Medieval Village of Besalu”

  1. Great photos, you really seem to capture the charm of Besalu. I’d love to learn how you made your photo collages.

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      14. Mar, 2012

      Simple, really. Picasa has a useful Collage tool that I use quite often :)

      Reply to this comment
  2. Estate Agents

    08. Mar, 2012

    Catalonia is one of the most beautiful areas of Spain, I wish I could spend all my life there!

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  3. Laurence

    08. Mar, 2012

    I’ve never heard of so many of these places. Am really looking forward to spending some time exploring Spain!

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      13. Mar, 2012

      I suggest you do! Catalonia is full of quaint villages and dramatic scenery, not just artsy Barcelona!

      Reply to this comment
  4. D.J. - The World of Deej

    08. Mar, 2012

    Awesome…It is hard for me to wrap my head around things that are so old like the monastery. I mean, how many 1000 year old things are there in the world?

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      13. Mar, 2012

      There are quite a few, actually. Pyramids, Pantheon, Parthenon, and this monastery. No matter where it is, 1000 years is pretty impressive indeed!

      Reply to this comment
  5. Laura

    08. Mar, 2012

    That paella looks amazing!

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      13. Mar, 2012

      It was! I’m not familiar with crayfish and other seafood but it was fun to discover.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Greg

    08. Mar, 2012

    Will be staying in a villa near hear in July 2012 - can’t wait!

    Reply to this comment
    • admin

      13. Mar, 2012

      Did you book your villa via Charming Villas? They are amazing!

      Reply to this comment
  7. jade

    13. Mar, 2012

    Great photos and post! I fell in love with Besalu too- would love to take Bob there one day!

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    • Marie

      13. Mar, 2012

      I had the same thought - I loved Besalu so much, I feel bad not sharing it with my husband. One day I’ll go back with him!

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  8. Laurel

    15. Mar, 2012

    Regarding returning to Catalonia with a bunch of friends, I was thinking the same thing. I love exploring these villages that no one has heard of, but are so steeped in history and Besalu is completely romantic.

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  9. cheryl

    01. Apr, 2012

    We had such a nice time there! I really would like to go back and explore more of this pretty town. And lovely photos!

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  10. Ben Bolt

    11. Jul, 2013

    I have been to Besalu, and your photos, while OK, do not do justice to this beautiful spot. One of the most beautiful villages in the world. It is a wonderful place to spend half a day.

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