1. The historic town centres of Palamós and Sant Joan
The fabric of Palamós is based around the historic town centre, the area of industrial expansion, the town of Sant Joan, the coast and the surrounding homesteads. The old town of Palamós has its origins in the settlement built inside the walls where the inhabitants used to live, fearful of attacks by land and sea either by pirates or through military disputes.
The layout of the old town of Sant Joan starts with the houses and dwellings built around the square and church. Sant Joan de Palamós became a municipality in 1942. The following are some of the notable features:
- The Santa Maria church, built in 1417 with the chapel added in 1349. Here you will find a collection of sacred art and an altarpiece designed by Isaac Vermey Hermes, a native of Utrecht (Netherlands), which was made at the end of the sixteenth century.
- The Santa Eugenia de Vila-romà Church, situated in the old town of Sant Joan de Palamós, dates to the eighteenth century, although it was built on the site of an early tenth century chapel.
- Carme Chapel, the church for the poor for the old hospital, which is the basis of the current regional hospital. Built in the eighteenth century, today it is a cultural centre, a gateway to local heritage and an art space for Ezekiel Torroella.
- Palamós Cemetery, where you can find the Creu del Portal, a cross dating to 1593 which was located in the Plaça dels Arbres and has been at the entrance of the cemetery since 1904.
- The Barri del Pedró district and the Eixample. The Barri del Pedró is a district filled with the light that is characteristic of the Mediterranean, and which culminates in the park of the Augustinian Convent (1568-1835) and the square with the same name.
- The Eixample is an area constructed in the late nineteenth century to meet the demands of industry by expanding the town and to incorporate the train line that runs between Palamós and Girona.
2. The port and fishing
The area surrounding Palamós was bought by King Pere II in 1277, who wanted to possess a strategic position north of Barcelona in the struggle for expansion and dominance taking place around the Mediterranean.
In 1279 the same King drew up a town charter for all those who wanted to live in the village, then known as “Palamors”.
Nowadays the port of Palamós is one of the main seaports in the province of Girona, and has a commercial dimension alongside fisheries, tourism and culture. Not to be missed:
- The Fishing Museum, housed in an former boat shed, which is the first museum dedicated to fishing around the Mediterranean. The museum also has fishing boats, real floating museums you can visit.
- The Fish Marketplace, where you watch the fish auction every evening from Monday to Friday with the local fishermen.
- ‘L’Espai del Peix’, a gastronomic experience that forms part of the Fishing Museum where you can learn how to identify, prepare and cook fish, from the point of view of traditional seafood cuisine. There are courses, show-cooking, workshops and tastings of typical fish dishes.
- The Fish Market is part of the Municipal Market, and every afternoon you can buy the products fresh off the boats of Palamós fishermen.
Maritime Palamós can be traced along the coastal path that leaves the main beach, climbs up to Pedró and then moves eastward along the coast towards Cap Roig, stopping at Calella de Palafrugell. You can see the Maritime Port, the Morro del Vedell cove and stairs leading to Margarida beach, at the foot of Cap Gros. The trail leads us to Fosca beach, a shallow beach facing the southeast. The highlights around Castell are:
- The castle of Sant Esteve de Mar, dating from the 12th to 13th centuries, is part of the origins of Palamós, although it has ended its days as a country house.
- The S’Alguer cove is a small village by the sea, and is a site of National Cultural Interest for its scenic views. It used to be a fishing shanty town, and dates back to the fifteenth century. It gave refuge to fishermen and was a place to store fishing gear and equipment, although the area is now used for recreation.
- Castell beach: This area has remained isolated and has been well looked after, preserving its raw natural beauty. It is an example of the Mediterranean landscape in its purest form.
- The Iberian village of Castell: the sand stops at the headland of sa Cobertera where you can get closer to the archaeological site of Iberian settlers (dating from 6th century BC to the 2nd century AD), discovered in 1935 during the excavation of the cliffs around la Foradada.
- A fishing shack in the bay. From the top of the Castell, you can see the rugged coastline: Senia cove, Cala Canyers with its fountain by the sea, Corbs cove and Estreta cove, all the way until Planes, which marks the beginning of the Mont-ras municipality. The last cove features a restored fisherman’s hut, a traditional Catalan stone building sheltered from the north wind.
The beautiful landscape is the combination of the plains surrounding the river Aubi, the Gavarres mountains and the Mediterranean sea.
The Gavarres mountains are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and are representative of the northern Mediterranean coastal mountain ranges. They speak of the traditional way of life in the town with their characteristic vegetation of oaks trees and heather, along with the architectural elements that have defined the identity and character of this town for a thousand years.
If you follow the surrounding trails there are many things to see:
- The Vila-roma castle stands on the southern slopes of Monteagut, and dates back to the thirteenth century. In 1812 the French army destroyed it while they were in retreat, and since then it has been gradually falling apart. In the centre there is a wall of about 10m, probably the remains of the Tower.
- The Bell-lloc church was founded in 1272. Sant Josep Oriol gave it his blessing in 1675. It was restored by the fishermen, and there is an annual pilgrimage every September.
5. Town Views
To get the best panoramic views of the town you have several options. Here are our suggestions:
- Plaça Murada, a natural viewpoint from which you can see the port and the main beach. Writers such as Josep Pla and Joan Gomis have enjoyed this spot in the past.
- The new pier and the breakwater is a popular place to take a walk. Under the beacon at the entrance to the port there are views of the open sea, where you can see the ships sailing past and watch the patient anglers.
- The lighthouse offers a view of the bay, the Gavarres mountains and Ardenya. The best times to go are at sunset and around seven o’clock in the morning, when the boats go out to sea.
- The Pedró district, the highest part of the town, has the ancient architectural remains of the Augustine convent, which face to the east.
- The Windmill, which was used as an air raid shelter during the Civil War and is fortified on top, allows for fantastic views over the river Aubi and the town of Sant Joan de Palamós.
- The whole town can be seen from the top of Cap Gros, a nearby mountain.
- From the pine forest at Gori you can see the Formigues islands and Pallarida S’Alguer cove while breathing in the perfume of the trees. Pure Mediterranean.
- Sa Cobertera, or sa Corbatera de Castell, is the headland from which you can see the unique landscape of the beach and the plains surrounding the castle, the last natural space left along the Costa Brava.
- Dolmen de Montagut, a tall mountain that has retained its cultural heritage, the dolmen de Montagut, which dates back to the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age.