The Jewish quarter in Girona is one of the city’s most iconic areas. It is shrouded in history, from the 9th century when Jews arrived in Girona. Under the Jews, the region prospered into a thriving community and trading hub until King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella forced the Jewish people from the city in 1492.
Known as El Call, a term derived from the Hebrew word ‘kahal’ for a community, Girona’s Jewish quarter is thought to be one of the world’s best-preserved Jewish quarters. If you visit Girona, the old Jewish quarter is a must-see, and here is our guide to things to do Girona Jewish Quarter, Girona, Spain.
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Things to Know Before You Go
The charming city of Girona is between Barcelona and Costa Bravo. In the midst of the old town of Girona, you can find the Jewish quarters next to the Onyar river.
Narrow streets wind their way through the medieval city. Joining a walking tour is one of the best ways to explore the nooks and crannies and walk away with a deeper knowledge of the history. However, with its cobbled streets, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.
An exciting fact before heading to Girona, it was a filming location for Game of Thrones. Sant Pere de Galligants, featured in the series as King’s Landing.
Another interesting point is the majority of people speak Catalan. They still speak Spanish, so you can get by with a fragmented version of either language.
Before you visit – check out my top helpful travel resources
Here are a few of my recommendations for travel assistance and sites I use when traveling myself. For more on these and why I choose to recommend them, check out my full disclosure page.
- Book your travel insurance with Insured Nomads if you are from the US or Worldwide Insure for European visitors.
- Find the best flights with Skyscanner.
- Get great prices on Rental Cars from Discover Cars.
- Travel throughout Spain and Europe via train. Book your tickets with the Trainline.
- Find affordable accommodations on Booking.com
- Search tours from GetYourGuide or Civitis
- Check your visa requirement on iVisa
How To Get There
Travelling to Girona from Barcelona can be by train, bus or car.
Taking a train is straightforward. Trains run frequently and inexpensively, with prices as little as €7.00 each way. Ticket purchases are from the station or online via Renfe. There are two train options:
- The AVANT/AVE trains or the MD/Regional. The high-speed train takes around 40mins to get from Barcelona-Sants to Girona.
- MD/Regional trains take around 90 mins. It is more convenient if your base is further from Barcelona-Sants.
Bus travel is convenient and inexpensive, with regular services between the two cities. The bus from Barcelona Nord station to Estació Girona takes around 1 hour 40 mins.
You can travel directly or take the scenic route along the Costa Brava coastline. The direct way takes roughly 1 hour 15 mins and is about 105 km via the AP-7. Depending on stops, the picturesque coastal road will take 2 hours and 30 mins. Along the way are pretty fishing villages and the beautiful coastline of Costa Brava.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the Jewish Quarter in Girona is April through September. Although, it is perfectly feasible to experience a wonderful time all year round. These months have the best weather for walking around a city.
- Daytime temperatures in April are 18°C to 20°C (53°F to 71°F), falling to 9°C (48.4°CF) during the night.
- The hottest months are July and August, with highs of 30°C (86°F) and lows of 19°C (66°F).
- The coldest month is January, with daytime temperatures around 8 – 9°C. Overnight frosts are common.
- October is the wettest month, generally seeing about eight rainy days a month.
May is Girona’s busiest month when the city holds its annual Temps de Flors festival. The event occurs in the old city and Jewish quarter, El Call. The streets and steps of Girona Cathedral become a spectacular array of floral arrangements.
Things to See in Girona’s Jewish Quarter
Walking through the old streets of Girona into the well-preserved Jewish quarter enables you to step back in time and delve deep into the history of the Jewish community.
1. Museum of Jewish History
An excellent place to start is the Museum of Jewish History, three minutes from Girona Cathedral, in an old synagogue at 8 Força Street. Audio-guided tours are available, and a gift shop sells books and souvenirs.
The Museum of Jewish History gives an insight into Jewish life in medieval Girona. It takes you on a journey from the 9th century to the 15th century. You can learn about their daily life, including food, customs, businesses, traditions, festivals, and the important significance of the synagogue.
There are eleven rooms in which the museum uses examples to better understand the Jewish community through documentaries, archaeology, and imagery, including a collection of medieval Jewish tombstones.
The general admission price is €4.00. There are various concessionary prices reduced to €2.00. There is free admission on the first Sunday of every month and on special days, so check their website for details and opening times.
2. Tapestry of the Creation
The Girona Tapestry is a unique piece of history which has recently undergone restoration. It is on display in the Treasure museum in the Girona Cathedral, also known as Catedral de Santa Maria. It is a panel created in needlework of romanesque style, dating back to the 11th century.
The tapestry illustrates a wheel depicting the story of the world’s creations, beginning with Adam and Eve. The wheel can be hard to read. Fortunately, the museum has a video explaining the world’s creation.
To see the Tapestry of the Creation, you walk through the architectural wonder of Girona’s cathedral. It is a magnificent structure of romanesque and gothic art and has the widest gothic nave in the world.
The steps leading up to the Plaça de la Catedral were one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones.
Some ticket options include the cathedral and visiting Basilica de Sant Feliu, Girona’s oldest church. It dates back to the early days of Christianity. Prices are,
- Adult €7.50
- Under 16s: €1.50
- Pensioners / Students: €5.50
For opening times and other ticket options, check their website.
3. City History Museum
The museum provides a fascinating insight into Girona’s history, from pre-historical times through medieval times to the modern day. The museum is in the 18th-century convent, a short walk from El Call. It showcases some interesting artefacts and provides an audio-guided tour.
The museum is reasonably priced, with the general rate being €4.20 and opens seven days a week at 10.30 am.
Where to stay
Bells Oficis is a bed and breakfast accommodation. Stylishly decorated with a balcony, Wi-Fi, use of a washing machine, and excellent reviews.
The accommodation is only 15 minutes from the Girona Jewish Quarter and 100 yards from the colorful houses of the Onyar River and the Eiffel Bridge. The downside is a shared bathroom.
Hotel Costabella offers a mid-range option in Girona city, 15 minutes walk from the Girona Jewish Quarter. It benefits from en-suite facilities, a pool and fitness suite and a restaurant. It has air-conditioned rooms with tea and coffee makers.
Girona Catedral is a luxury choice in the old town. All rooms are en-suite with a kitchenette, dining table and satellite TV. The rooms are air-conditioned with free Wi-Fi and come highly recommended by previous guests.
Where to explore
There are many attractions to see in the Jewish Quarter and Girona. It is possible to explore the area on day trips. However, a few days are ideal for experiencing Girona, Spain.
Carrer de la Força
Carrer de la Força is the original street through the heart of the Jewish quarter. It used to be the trading centre during Roman times. Today, you can see the Jewish History Museum and City History Museum.
Where to eat
Plenty of cafes and restaurants are within the ancient walls of Girona, Spain. One popular eatery is the Bau Bar.
Bau Bar is in the Place de la Catedral in the Jewish Quarter in Girona and offers beautiful views of Girona Cathedral.
The cafe provides breakfast from 8.30 am or morning coffee and pastries.
Their restaurant serves traditional Mediterranean cuisine using local suppliers. They offer a seasonal menu based around local traditions and events, such as the Flower festival in May and Girona fairs in October.
Where is the Jewish Quarter in Girona?
The Jewish quarter is within the Força Vella part of the old town of Girona. The El Call is an area of narrow medieval streets and passageways next to the river banks of the Onyar.
What are the nearest attractions to Girona Jewish Quarter (El Call de Girona)?
Most of Girona’s attractions are located near or within the Jewish quarter. Highlights include the Arab baths, the medieval city walls of the Passeig de la Muralla, Plaça de la Independència, Casa Masó, and the Rambla de la Llibertat with its great flower market with outdoor seating fantastic for people watching.
What else should I know about attractions in Girona?
Girona is a small city that’s easy to explore on foot. There are many museums, and it’s great for history enthusiasts, two days should be enough to see the main attractions. Girona may be small, but it does have many steps to climb. It also has an excellent selection of restaurants.
Does Girona Have a Beach?
Girona is the principal city of the Costa Brava, and it has some fantastic coves and beaches along its coastline.
Why is a Fly the Symbol of Girona?
Legend has it that when the French troops invaded the city in the middle ages in 1285, they desecrated the tomb of Saint Narcis. ‘The miracle of flies’ describes thousands of flies swarming out of the tomb, biting, killing, and repelling the French soldiers, saving the city.
Final thoughts on the Jewish Quarter in Girona, Spain
A visit to Girona, Spain, is only complete with seeing the best preserved Jewish quarter in the world. It is a fascinating place to experience what life used to be like within the medieval walls. The Museum of Jewish History helps to enlighten you about traditional customs.
Observe awe-struck at the city’s unique architectural style, with Girona Cathedral and its baroque facade. Witness another marvel of the famous engineer Gustave Eiffel, and Game of Thrones fans can discover some filming sites in Girona, Spain.
About the author
Matthew is a seasoned traveller and founder of The Travel Blogs, where he shares his passion for exploring the world with more than 20 years of globetrotting experience behind him and more to come! Currently living in Madrid, Spain, he loves to discover new places with his young family across Spain and Portugal while still including regular trips to far-flung destinations. Don’t forget to follow The Travel Blogs on Facebook and YouTube for even more inspiration and tips!