Catalunya.  The breathtaking Costa Brava. However you want to say it, this corner of Northern Spain has surprises in store for everyone.  There are family holidays, activity holidays, quiet, romantic holidays, city breaks…something for everyone.  What about those who like a little art injection with their sunshine?  Spain isn’t just about Picasso you know, visit Catalunya with art in mind and you might find it all just a little surreal! Don’t dilly – Dalí on the way… Costa Brava Catalonia

Costa Brava Catalonia

First glance

Our first holidays in Spain were spent in Catalunya.  The Costa Brava remains our favourite coastline in Spain. We fell in love almost immediately with the quiet cove of Sa Riera, the historic town of Begur, and medieval Pals, which felt as though we had stepped back in time or onto a film set.

However,   I have the misfortune to be married to a legacy of St Vitus Dance, he can’t sit still, a beach is out of the question, and if there’s something to see the suntan lotion is packed away and the map and walking boots are out.  Sometimes I wish he’d just take up golf. So, on our first, and many more visits that followed to Catalunya, we saw EVERYTHING.  My wish for a hot beach and the sound of surf was even more hampered by fact he was in the middle of an Open University art history course, and had fallen in love with all things Dalí.  I just know that I should have booked that wet weekend in Skegness!

But. you know, it’s catching.  Like the German Measles, Dalí fever soon took us over, even our daughter in a pushchair at the time remembers the Mae West room today – more on that later!  If like us, you too love Dalí, or Surrealism in general, you’ll be bowled over by Catalunya.  In fact, time just seems to melt away there!

Salvador Dali (1904-1989).

Salvador Dali (1904-1989).

Desperately seeking Dalí

Let’s look at where in Catalunya you might find traces of that old rogue, Salvador Dalí. There are four main destinations, visit them all.


First on the list is the Theatre Museu Dalí.  I have to start here, it’s where he lived, where he worked, and is where Dalí  lies today, below an unmarked slab which visitors walk over, hurrying inside  to see the artwork, oblivious to the fact they have stepped straight over the artist himself.

The building is wacky in the extreme, you’ll see from miles away, with the egg sculptures atop the pink painted palace of art.

The Theatre Museu Dalí is in the town where he was born, Figueres, in 1904.  It was ruined by fire during the Spanish Civil War but was rebuilt in his own inimitable style and restored between 1961 – 1974 to what you see today.

See the dripping clocks, all the famous artwork, the crazy sculptures, and the Mae West room.  A sofa, some curtains and pictures make up her face, which you view from a high point accessed by stairs, it’s incredible.  There’s a taxi in the courtyard which rains – inside – once it was owned by Al Capone.  Nothing is as you would expect  here, turn all of your traditional art expectations upside down, give them a good shake, and you have instant Dalí appreciation!

Eggs-traordinary! The Dali Theatre and Museum

Eggs-traordinary! The Dali Theatre and Museum

The Mae West Room.

The Mae West Room.

Port Lligat

Picture a quiet and quaint, typically Spanish, fishing hamlet.  You have just conjured up Port Lligat.  Just 1 kilometre around the beautiful bay from Cadaques and this was home for Dalí between 1930 and 1982, at least sporadically.  His house is now the home of the Casa Museu Dalí, what was once a humble fisherman’s hut has been altered and enlarged to hold some artistic treasures.  Sit ont he harbourside at sunset and paint the setting scene, perhaps in the same spot where the great master himself once sat…

Inside Dali's world

Inside Dali’s world


Let’s head that 1 kilometre around the wild and rocky bay, and aim for Cadaques. As a child, Dalí spent his childhood Summers here, skimming stones and gazing into rock pools – perhaps inspiration for The Metamorphosis of Narcissus?  Perhaps not… Perhaps that’s just my romantic notion!

As you look around the bay and out to see though, you’ll see plenty of inspiration that did feature heavily in Dalí’s had and brush.  Rocks that look like moonscapes, barren and wild shores, he didn’t just fall in love with this place either.  It was in Cadaques, in 1929, that a friend of his Paul Éluard came to visit with his wife, Gala. The French poet must have been left a little perplexed, because Dalí immediately fell in love with Gala and whisked her off to Paris before marrying her himself.

The Museo here on the South side of the bay, was Dalí’s parents holiday home, now housing some famous artwork, identify it by the statue of the poet Lorca outside, built to commemorate his visit here during the 1920′s.

Where Dali had his house- Cadaques

Where Dali had his house- Cadaques

Castell de Púbol

Travel on 22 kilometres Northwest of Palafrugell – the nearest bigger town, great market, and lots to do, and you’ll arrive at Castell de Púbol.

You’ll find Dalí’s Gothic and Renaissance mansion which he bought in 1968.  Not really his though, he gifted it to his wife, Gala, and he himself was never allowed to visit. At least not until her death in 1982.  Until then, she reportedly amused herself by sending into the village for young men…

The house never brought Dalí much luck as it happens, he almost died when there was a fire there in 1984.

After Gala died, Dalí drove her one last time around her beloved estate, the blue Cadillac he used is still on display there. Gala is buried in the crypt.

 If you have a Dalí fascination, or just like that particular period in Art, or hey, just fancy a trip to the beautiful Costa Brava, then book up today for Summer 2013.  You won’t be disappointed!