Today, it is said that Girona is the number one city in Spain for best quality of life. During the 16th century, although not being able to avoid pests and floods, the city experienced a period of prosperity. On the other hand, the 17th century was one of depression, mainly caused by the Catalan Revolt, known locally as “La Guerra dels Segadors”.
The ongoing wars between Spain and France made Girona the object of many sieges, as those of 1684 and 1694, which left the city in the hands of the French king for four years. In 1833, Girona was declared the capital of the Spanish province of the same name. From that time, the proximity of the Ter watercourse, partially deflected through the urban area, allowed Girona to join the industrial revolution in Catalonia. In 1843, once the city recovered its former level of 8,000 inhabitants, Girona saw the birth of the first continuous paper factory in Catalonia; and, in 1857, that of a foundry that fueled the origins of electric lighting in many cities of the state, among which Girona was the first to have public lighting, in 1886.
In 1869 the Free University of Girona was created. Its predecessor was established in 1443, began operations in 1572, but was interrupted in 1717 by the cultural repression policy of Felipe V. This new experience survived until 1874.
Beginning in 1936, Girona suffered the inherent difficulties of the civil war, which concluded with the evacuation to France in 1939; then, Girona was a crossing point for those who undertook the path of exile. Occupied by the troops of general Franco that same year, the University suffered the strong repression exerted by the victors of the war, with the traumas aggravated by the catastrophes of the floods of 1940 and 1943.
After 1950, with 32,000 inhabitants, began the economic recovery, simultaneously with the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from the southern of the peninsula. In 1969 the College; it was the third attempt to establish higher education in Girona, and was definitely crystallized in 1993 with the creation of the University of Girona. In 1979, the first democratic municipal elections since the civil war and the Franco dictatorship were held, and were won by the leftist parties.
In spite of its remarkable industrial expansion, the reasons Girona really stands out are because of trade, old tradition, and due to the fact that the city holds the record rate of shops per person in the state. As a crossroads between the mountain and the sea, it is also a hub of fairs and markets and the natural capital of an area with unique tourist attractions such as the Costa Brava and the Pyrenees. Costa Brava is probably the most magnificent Mediterranean coast, with many beaches and exotic places, all located just a few kilometers away from downtown. There are a lot of villages along the coast, each one with its own charm; and we can greatly enjoy all this with a nearly perfect climate.
Additionally, the city offers numerous places where visiting is almost mandatory. For instance, the Girona Art Museum, the Film Museum, the Museum of the History of the Jews, and the Arab Baths all complete the unforgettable experience of getting lost in the complex maze of streets, alleys and squares of Roman origin, which pack the city. Another must-see, the Girona Cathedral of Santa Maria, has the largest Gothic altar in Europe, whose museum houses masterpieces of religious art, like the wonderful tapestry of the Creation, embroidered in the eleventh century. We may also visit the Monastery of Sant Pere Galligants, a former Benedictine monastery, or the same Quart, where they continue to make ceramic pieces from the sixteenth century.
Finally, those who enjoy haute cuisine can visit the Celler de Can Roca, named the “best restaurant in the world” in 2013, and holder of three Michelin stars, a place as sublime, fine and beautiful as the entire province of Girona.