Europe, Spain

Exploring the northern Costa Brava

No Comments 24 August 2010

Exploring the northern Costa Brava

In the first days of 2002, El Mono left Barcelona for a gradual exploration of the coastal region north of the great Catalan city. Here he shares some photos from scenic stops in Begur, Cadaqués, Port Lligat, and Tossa.

Cadaqués, Catalunya, Spain
Stealing away up the northern Costa Brava, El Mono survived a foggy-night drive on winding, narrow mountain pass to arrive in beautiful, remote Cadaqués. The town hugs the coast around a small bay of turquoise water, and its hilly, meandering alleys and whitewashed houses have long been a retreat for the bohemian set. Among those who came here to play and relax were Picasso, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Luis Buñuel, Rene Magritte, Juan Miro, and even Albert Einstein. Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala lived in nearby Port Lligat (the Monkey visited their home; see the photos further below) and often threw lavish fiestas, inviting the most tantalizing current crop of Cadaqués visitors to their home for champagne and witty repartée, among other things.

Here, the Monkey takes in the seascape from the rocks just outside town at the lip of the bay. In the distance you can see Cadaqués itself, with the 16th Century church spire rising above the other buildings.

Cadaqués, Catalunya, Spain
From an overlook among the labyrinth of Cadaqués’ streets, the Monkey got this beautiful vista of the town and its bay, with the open Mediterranean beyond. The rocky outcrop directly above the Monkey is where he posed in the top shot on this page.

Begur, Catalunya, Spain
The Monkey enjoys the view over Begur, Catalunya from its hilltop castle, which dates from the 11th Century. The small town is a bit off the beaten track, and one can spend a number of hours wandering its medieval alleys and scaling the steep mount to the castle, which has great coastal views.

Dalí House, Port Lligat, Catalunya, Spain
The Monkey inspects the eccentricities of Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala’s self-designed hideaway retreat at Port Lligat, near Cadaqués in northern Catalunya. The couple bought a number of fishermen’s cottages and converted them, with many fanciful additions, to a unique, surreal house.

Here, in the back garden the pool is phallic, the Moorish fountain is decorated by matador-liquor bottles, and the Michelin man smiles in the background. Nude ballerinas and Gypsy flamenco singers once entertained the couple’s visitors around this playful pool and patio. When Gala died in 1982, Salvador never returned to their seaside escape.

Dalí house, Port Lligat, Catalunya, Spain
The Monkey lounges on the outdoor patio of Salvador Dalí and Gala’s home at Port Lligat. One of the surrealist artist’s favorite symbols was the egg, which for him symbolized birth and creation, and it appeared in many of his works. His patio was no exception.

Tossa, Catalunya, Spain
In Tossa, along the northern Costa Brava, the Monkey peers down on a secluded little beach from the heights of the town’s medieval defense walls. Tossa is the best remaining example of a fortified coastal town in Catalunya, with walls, turrets, and arched portals all commanding fantastic views over the churning sea below.

Tossa, Catalunya, Spain
The Monkey sits on a section of Tossa’s medieval fortress walls and listens to the waves of the Mediterranean crashing far below. Very peaceful, indeed.

This Monkey adventure has been viewed 1348 times since the 2010 website relaunch.



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40,491,052 (2008)

Land area:

499,542 sq. km.


Madrid (pop. 2,947,228; 2005)


In 2006, Spain ranked 21st in the UNDP Human Development Index and 9th in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $28,107.74. Public debt accounts for 36.2 percent of total GDP, while 19.8 percent of Spaniards are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):

Spanish, with significant Catalan, Galician and Euskadi-speaking populations

Monkey's name:

El Mono (El Moh-noh)

Fun fact:

The Spanish maintain a dispute over British control of Gibraltar, which they contend is an extension of the Spanish territory. And yet the Spanish remain unwilling to cede two similar territories across the Straits of Gibraltar, Ceuta and Melilla, to the Moroccans. All three territories are proof that old empires die hard.

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