From the Pont de Pedra bridge you get one of the classic views of Girona with the colourful "hanging" houses lining the river Onyar and the Cathedral visible in the distance. Crossing this bridge we enter the Old Town with remains dating from pre-Roman times as this was an important strategic location historically where 4 rivers intersected. The river serves as the dividing line between the commercial, shopping and residential part of town which we are leaving and going into the historic centre with the Town Hall, Museums, public buildings, Cathedral as well as cafes and restaurants for visitors.
Walk across bridge and head straight until you come to the Plaça del Vi.
The Plaça del Vi is the political heart of Girona with the magnificent building housing the Town Hall (Ayutamiento) dominating the square. All the main festivals, processions and important activities will finish in this square in the presence of the Mayor and City dignitaries. The arcades opposite the Town Hall are a good place to sit in the shade and enjoy a cold drink in the summer months or the famous hot chocolate at L'Antiga cafe in the winter. Behind the Town Hall going through the main gate you will see one of the old assembly rooms which are still used for public meetings and further on down the passageway the completely restored Municipal Theatre with gold gilt balconies and red velevt seats.
From here we keep walking down Carrer Ciutadans past shops and near the end an exhibition hall called the Caixa Forum with continuous changing art, sculpture and other cultural exhibits free to the public.
At the end of Carrer Ciutadans is the Plaça de l'Oli and from here we go up the small street called Carreras Peralta which then changes into Carrer Força.
Carrer Força is the beginning of the Jewish "Call" or part of town, where for more than 500 yrs they paid their taxes direct to the King or Queen of Spain and were entitled to practice their own religion, customs and language independent of the town where they were physically located, in this case Girona. In 1492 they were forced to convert to Catholicism or expelled with only what they could carry. About half left and the other half converted which is one reason the Catalans are called the Jews of Spain. As the jewish population grew they were not able to expand outwards so they had to build upwards including extra space such as over pathways which is why it is full of narrow lanes with little light reaching the street.
Visit the Centre Bonastruc ça Porta Jewish Museum which is in one of the old synagogues and is very informative about the crafts, religious knowledge (Kabala) and trade which linked many towns throughout Catalonia, Spain and further afield.
Continue walking up Carrer Força which is also the Roman Via Augusta and on the left near the top is the History of Girona Museum which is worth a stop and denotes the limit of the Jewish Call too. You now come out into the open again and see the steps of the Cathedral up to your right.
Time for some exercise as there are 94 steps up to the top and the Cathedral entrance. To raise money for maintenance you are now forced to pay and are able to see the Museum, Cloister as well as the Cathedral. Be sure to see the Tapestry of Creation which is one of the few remaining hand woven, silk tapestries depicting astrological charts, seasons, and religious icons from the Middle Ages. The nave of the cathedral is the tallest of the Romanesque period.
Exiting the Cathedral we can see the impressive architecture of the buildings around us and a visit to the Museum of Art which is housed in the old Bishop's palace is interesting. To the left of the Museum of Art there are some steps which lead under an arch and if you follow this narrow passage you come to the gardens underneath the fortified walls of the city. The wall has been restored and can be followed in both directions where you can see some of the best views of Girona spread out below you.
The walking tour continues through the gate in the walls and into the Passeg Reina Juana which follows the gardens on the outside of the wall, and gives some idea of the height and strength of these walls which had to withstand more than 20 seiges by French troops over the centuries.
When we finish walking down the path the steps lead us directly in front of the Arab Baths, one of the few remains of the Moorish occupation this far north- a quick visit is recommended.
Follow to the left on Ferran el Catolic street and this will take you past a gate to your left with the steps of the Cathedral again visible but keep going straight with another church on your right.
This is Sant Feliu Church, fortified like a castle as it formed part of the city's defences and note the sepulchers (coffins) on the outside of the building. This church is a wonderful example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and contains the tomb of Sant Narcis, Girona's Patron Saint.
If you exit from the main door and go down the steps to the square by the river you will see several terraces to rest in the shade and have a cooling drink while you watch people climbing the few steps below a post and kiss the posterior of what looks like a female lion called the Cull de la Lleona. The legend says that you will both have good luck and come back to Girona again some day if you kiss the lions bum.
Now we take another narrow street called Carrer Calderers with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants along it and then merges with Carrer Ballesteries famous for mainly young peoples clothes boutiques. Be sure not to miss the turn right onto Carrer Argenteria which then leads into the Rambla de la Llibertat. This is where the locals walk, talk and sit and watch everyone else so grab an ice cream or a drink and do the same! About half way down the Rambla on your right have a look at an iron bridge made by Gustave Eiffel (famous for building the Eiffel Tower in Paris) for the city of Girona in 1885.
At the top of the Rambla is the Pont de Pedra bridge over the River Onyar which was our starting point and means we have come full circle and this walk ends. Thank you for coming along and I hope you enjoyed the Old Town of Girona walking tour!
From Girona train and bus station walk down to main road in front of station (Carretera de Barcelona) turn left and walk 300m to Carrer de Santa Eugenia (or Plaça Marques de Camps) turn right cross Gran Via de Jaume I and take pedestrian road Carrer Nou all the way to the end where you come to Pont de Pedra bridge and the start/finish of the walking tour.