Today is about the next destination in Catalonia, the city of Llançà (Llanca, emphasis on the last syllable) in the Emporda region. The town is small – only about 28 km2; the population is 5,000. In my opinion, it is in small towns that one can get a feel for the country and see the most interesting things.
A little history of Llanca
Today’s Llanca was formed by the Lancani Valley (Deciana), a settlement mentioned in sources dating back to the 10th century. In the spring of 1344, after the rebellion of Count Ramon Berenguer against King Peter IV of Aragon, many knights who had fought on the side of the monarch found themselves imprisoned in Llanca. They became the first inhabitants of the town. The modern name for the settlement was given by the French in 1659.
The old town, bounded by three streets, was organised around a parish church built in the mid-18th century on the remains of an old Romanesque church which was under the authority of the Abbot of Sant Pere de Rodes. Between 1718 and 1720, the economy grew by exporting wine and oil. In the 60s the town gradually gained fame as a tourist destination. Today, Llanca is one of the most popular resorts on the Costa Brava in the province of Girona, where in addition to beautiful beaches surrounded by coniferous forests there is also a large cultural heritage.
Our trip to Llanca
We really wanted to visit Llanca because it is located in the protected area of Parc Natural del Cap de Creus (Cap de Reus) and the famous medieval Benedictine monastery Sant Pere de Rodes can be reached on foot from here.
We took the train from Girona to Llanca (direction Portbou and Cerbere). The fare was 4 euros 90 cents.
Upon arrival at the station, we were a little bit disappointed. Just a usual village. That we didn’t know yet what Colera is, where we went next 😉 So, we went out of the train to the centre of the town. Along the way – lots of olive trees and cats.
After a long walk and no sign of hotels or at least civilization (though there were no people either), we met a nice old Spanish lady, who pointed us in the direction of the hotel. And we wandered up the hill. The sun was beating down and the road was steeply uphill.
The area we walked through was very beautiful – clean white-washed houses with huge courtyards lined with citrus trees. Again, not a single person. Luckily, we met a man with a child walking his dog. He groaned and moaned how we had come so far into a residential area that there were no hotels here, all hotels were concentrated in the area of Llanca harbour, which was a long way off.
Anyway, he took us to a fork in the road and from there we ‘crawled’ towards the port of Llanca.
Llanca harbour: points of interest
The port chapel (La Capella de la Mare de Déu del Port)
On the way to the port of Llanca we visited the first attractions of the town: the 17th century chapel La Capella de la Mare de Déu del Port and the columbarium (next to the crematorium). According to a beautiful legend, a sailor, during a violent storm that caught him on the high seas, promised God to build a chapel in a place where he could dock. The white chapel with a bell tower on the front was built in 1691 by Jan Luis Tresserres.
Unfortunately we couldn’t get into the church – it was closed. But we were able to see the columbarium, located in the courtyard of the chapel. The decoration of many niches of the columbarium is striking: ships in a stormy sea, Jesus and angels.
Opening hours of the chapel are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in summer.
From the chapel it was already a short walk to the hotel La Goleta, where we were staying. The hotel is situated on the seafront, which in principle was no different from other seafront promenades on the Costa Brava.
Llanca Tower and the “Fish Bank” (and Banc de peix)
A few metres away is the tower (torre del Castellar) at the top of the island of El Castellar, now connected to the mainland by a concrete esplanade built on La Gola beach. These are the surviving remains of a tower used as a beacon or watchtower. Catalan cats and cats live in the ruins of the tower.
The tower has an observation platform that offers a beautiful view not only of the port of Llanca (white yachts, turquoise sea) but also of the city’s calling card that can be seen on all tourist postcards – the “fish bank” Banc de peix (l’Alt Empordà).
This piece of contemporary creativity was created in 2013 by an artist from Empordà, Carles Bros with water-resistant paint on a concrete dam 118 metres long and 3,168 square metres square, installed in 2012 to protect the city from landslides. The work, for which the artist did not charge a penny, took about three months. The painting symbolises the port, and the black and white colours imitate fish of different sizes. Now this unique work of art is the largest mural in the world created by a single artist.
Interestingly, the walls in the port area of Llanca feature poems by Josep Palau i Fabre (1917-2008), the famous post-war Catalan poet and expert on the work of Pablo Picasso. The walls of many of the houses in the harbour area are decorated with colourful maritime mosaics.
From the port of Llanca we walked along the Paseo maritime (sea walk). There are many beaches in Llanca. Separately marked are the beaches that can be visited with dogs, separately without animals. Everywhere along the road are political slogans such as “Freedom for Catalonia”, “No to political pressure”, “Democracy or revolution”, etc. Many people wear political badges on their clothes.
After breathing in the sea air and relaxing on the stone sun beds, we returned to the hotel. Our adventure was over for the day.