A Medieval Journey Through Costa Brava

Words by Pete Heck | Photography by Pete Heck and Sherry Ott

Photography, like any form of art, can at once be both wondrous and cruel.

Wondrous because it helps seize the essence of any one moment for all eternity. And also cruel because it helps seize the essence of any one moment for all eternity. Upon reviewing the photos following a trip, those captured moments can make us both wish so desperately for a return that it burns.

It’s been over a year since we boarded the flight bound for our six week project in Costa Brava. The project, in partnership with our friend Sherry from Ottsworld.com, was to traverse the region and create photography guides of the most captivating spots.

Pete Heck and Sherry Ott

Pete and Sherry ready to take on Costa Brava

The project itself had us enthralled – chasing optimal light through narrow cobblestone streets of five endearing towns in the region. There were lanes still marked with grooves from the carts that followed the horses which pulled them in medieval times. We climbed towers and walls for their vantage points below, and frequented many markets to take in all the seasonal colours.

Sherry Ott in Action
Pete Getting the Shot
Sherry Ott Reflection

Following our six week stay, the difficult task began of narrowing down thousands of photos. Then there was carefully mapping out the logical routes, editing the images, the text, and of course designing the books. And as we did so, over the long months it took to produce the final result, we were forced to face each one with more longing than the one before.

It was our second visit to the region, and it really began to feel like home. Dalene forced back tears on our last day there (and as she says: I would have shed a few too, except for all my manly manliness).

But finally, the barbarous work is done. And now you are able to take the same medieval journey that we did. We’ve done all the legwork. The guides will not only show you the best photos to take in these towns, but also will inform you of the best time of day to visit, what camera settings to use, the best selfie spots, which winding street to take to find some secret gems, and even where to stop for gelato in between shots.

Girona

Take our guide for what it is – a guide. We spent a lot of time in this city and developed six different photo walks. Our guides to Girona include:

  • Vistas and Viewpoints
  • Along the Onyar River
  • Old Town and Jewish Quarter
  • Markets
  • Gardens, Parks and Cloisters
  • Game of Thrones Filming Locations

Girona Viewpoint

Girona Castles

Girona Le Bistrot Steps

Girona - Arab Baths

Girona Window

Girona Streets

We would be remiss if we told you to only follow every step and not take this alluring city all in on your own. Get lost aimlessly wandering the cobblestone streets with your camera in tow. You will always be grounded by the cathedral that stands tall over all of Girona. Start there.

Girona Gironina

Photo by Sherry Ott

Girona Details
Girona Devesa Park

This antiquated city is so well preserved that the hit HBO show Game of Thrones filmed season six within the walls of Girona. And we were lucky enough to be there for premiere night and took full advantage – we even got to sit on the real Iron Throne! Through some locals we met we were able to put together a guide of the spots which appeared in season 6 of the show and tried to show the true view versus the fabricated ‘show shot’.

Girona Cathedral

Girona Photo Guide Download

Besalú

Besalu From Above

Thirty minutes from Girona is the town of Besalú. The bridge is the first thing any new visitor will notice leading to the walled historic centre. There are many unique angles and little surprises to take throughout the town. The walk itself takes only 1.5 hours but count on being caught up for a couple more by the sidewalk cafes and shops.

We had the chance to visit the historic Jewish baths, but we could only do so with a guide, so to view these be sure to check with the tourist office.

Besalú Streets

Photo by Sherry Ott

Besalú Plaza
Besalú Statue
Besalú Jewish Baths

Besalú Photo Guide Download

Castelló d’Empúries

Castelló d'Empúries Plaza

What was once an important trading post is now a quiet medieval town in the Costa Brava countryside. The castle and old town is surrounded by a moat on one side of the city. There are a number of ways to wander into the old town and the cobblestone roads lead us to the very well preserved Basilica de Santa Maria.

Castelló d'Empúries Cathedral
Castelló d'Empúries Moat
Castelló d'Empúries Street Colour

Castelló d'Empúries Cathedral Inside

Castelló d'Empúries Photo Guide Download

Peratallada

Peratallada Framed

Peratallada is considered to the be one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Catalonia and is a popular day trip for locals. The village protected with walls around the exterior and a moat no longer filled with water but still deep. Inside the walls are roads only for walking and are still original, evidenced by the cart wheel grooves. There is a castle in the centre of town, which at one point was a hotel but has since locked its doors and is no longer accessible. It’s recommended to walk slowly around the village taking your time. Watch how the light and shadows will change throughout and most of all stop to enjoy the variety of cafes and restaurants and a slow paced lifestyle.

Peratallada Cafes
Peratallada Church
Peratallada Moat

Peratallada Photo Guide Download

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is one of the most photogenic destinations we’ve ever visited. The walled town is perched on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. From the beach we were able to walk along the walls and explore all the hidden corners in the old town. Arrive early in the morning to claim your spot on the empty beach, but expect by 10am the beach to be busy. Tossa de Mar is also a popular spot along the Camino de Ronda and following the path to the top of the hill offers amazing views back of the towers and surrounding beaches.

Tossa-Early-Morning

Photo by Sherry Ott

Tossa de Mar Protected

Tossa de Mar Splash

Tossa de Mar Photo Guide Download

It’s difficult not to be enamoured by the beauty of Costa Brava. The region is so incredibly photogenic and creating these guides was not an easy task due to having to select from the thousands of photographs which both Sherry and I made.

And it was a cruel task, but we now pass that onto you. Enjoy capturing the photos, but try not to be too haunted by longing when you leave.

This project was made possible by Jaume Marin, Gemma Suñer Oller and the rest of the Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona team. Also, supporting the project were the Catalonia Tourism Organization and the Girona Tourist Office. Many thanks for the support and allowing us to showcase your beautiful spot you call home.
6 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • May 8 2017

    Just WOW! All of these guides are incredible and considering they are made by you, I wouldn’t think twice before packing them in. Bravo!
    Arti recently posted..Rooted in Simplicity: Shree Kasba Ganpati Temple, Pune’s Gram Daivait.

    • May 14 2017

      That’s sweet of you to say. Thank you Arti!

  • May 8 2017

    Wow you guys really outdid yourselves…the photography is stunning!
    Leigh recently posted..Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery

    • May 14 2017

      Thank you! Costa Brava is also a pretty easy place to take fantastic photos. 🙂

  • June 6 2017

    Wow, these books are SO nice. Such beautiful shots. We’re off to Portugal later this year, but this has really put Costa Brava next in line. Congratulations to all involved. BTW, who did the design and type? Very nicely considered!
    Andy recently posted..The Best Travel Planning Tools to Plan Your Next Trip

  • Sheila Ellefson
    June 6 2017

    The Costa Brava shots are gorgeous. That’s one area in Spain we have not visited and see that we should. We are now 5 years semi-nomadic and one year full time travelers with no ? Great as it is, we do look forward to some day finding that place to settle again, still looking. In the meantime, we are visiting some “tougher” destinations while we can. Mongolia up next. Stay well.

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