Salvador Dalí was the master and greatest creative practitioner of surrealism. During his life, Dalí lived and worked in many places in Spain. However, he spent most of his life in his home province of Girona in Catalunya. The region inspired much of his work and also houses the largest collection of his works in the world.
Whether you are out to explore the Costa Brava or to discover Dali’s works for yourself, travelling through the northern part of Catalunya will be one of your most rewarding journeys.
For instance, his birthplace Figueres (meaning ‘fig trees,’ which used to grow around it) is a picturesque town with winding streets, cosy cafés and a small yet picturesque ‘Old Town’ section and Square. It is archetypical of a sleepy Spanish village.
Its fame is forever entwined with that of its son Dalí and the Theatre Museum Dalí. This museum was built on the remains of a 19th century theatre and incorporates a tower from those ruins. The museum is Dali’s own creation and is reckoned to be the world’s largest surrealistic work.
Another attraction of the town is the well-preserved pentagonal Sant Ferran Castle. It was built as a military fortress in the eighteenth century and completed in 1753. It spreads over 5 kilometres making it the largest monument in Catalunya.
Not far from Figueres is the fishing village of Cadaques, another Catalunya gem, which has Dalí connections. Its white-washed Mediterranean houses, quiet streets, beautiful beaches and the perfect blue waters of its cove simply grab your heart and make you want to stay back – many do and many did. Some of its most famous visitors were Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Walt Disney, Richard Hamilton and Melina Mercouri.
Cadaques has an official population of around 3,000 people but at the peak of summer, many times that number visit and stay here. There are also some rather remarkable houses like the Casa Blava (Blue House) that are scattered around the town.
Cadaques has honoured Dalí by putting up a statue of him on the beach. The statue captures his eccentric style, his manic yet haughty expression, his famous upturned moustache and trade mark walking stick. It was in Cadaqués that Dalí first met his wife Gala in 1929.
Just a little way along the coast is Port Lligat, where Dali lived with Gala for over 40 years. It is now a house-museum that is just as magical and stunning as the surrounding area. It comprises of several fishermen’s huts that Dalí and Gala joined together.
The house features a labyrinth of passageways and rooms, including his workshop, library, garden and a very lovely pool. The tiny rooms are crammed with many of Dali’s creations including his last painting which he did not finish and paint brushes.
The highlight of the building though is the whispering room. The acoustics are so brilliant that you can hear a whisper from across the room – over 30 feet away. The building and its gardens are ‘Cultural Assets of National Interest.’
Dali himself once described the area thus, "… as always, in the perfect and dreamy town of Cadaqués. There, alongside the Latin sea, I have been quenched by light and colour." And so will you be when you are there.