1. The city’s cathedral is turning 600
Girona Cathedral towers over the old town and is a sight you simply can’t miss, sitting atop 91 stone steps. The cathedral has the widest Gothic nave in the world, measuring 23 metres, and this year it will be celebrating its 600th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a number of exhibitions and events will be held around the cathedral throughout the year.
2. Girona is a great base from which to hike the new history routes of the Pyrenees
This year new hiking routes have been launched in the Pyrenees, inspired by the paths and frontier crossings of Jewish exiles during the Second World War and the Spanish republicans at the end of their Civil War. The Jewish fled to Spain from 1940 to 1945 to escape the Nazi Holocaust, while Spanish republicans fled to France in 1939 to escape Franco’s troops.
3. Events and festivals will take place throughout the whole year
Girona is known as ‘The City of Festivals’, and not without good reason, as it hosts a variety of events throughout the entire year. Visit Girona sometime in 2017 and your trip is bound to coincide with one of its events – be it the Black Music Festival in March, the colourful Temps de Flors flower festival in May or the Festival de Mapping in June, where artistic moving images are projected onto the city’s historic buildings.
4. The region is officially a Sports Tourism Destination
If your New Year’s resolution is to work out more, then Girona could be the ideal place to combine a holiday with keeping fit. Officially certified as a Sports Tourism Destination by the Catalan Tourism Agency in 2015, the city and its surrounds offers a number of sporting opportunities for both amateurs and professionals. Popular sports include running, cycling, hiking, wild swimming and playing tennis.
5. To experience new Game of Thrones tours
2016 saw the end of Game of Thrones season 6, much of which was filmed in Girona. Now that it’s over visitors can experience a number of new Game of Thrones tours around the city. The tours will take visitors and fans to various locations used in the series, from the street where blind Arya stood begging in Braavos to where she fought the Waif, and where Jaime Lannister, along with the House of Tyrell, interrupted Queen Margaery’s walk of atonement in King’s Landing.
6. The Temps De Flors festival is set to be bigger than before
One of the highlights of Girona’s festivals is the Temps de Flors, a big flower and arts festival held each May. Last year, the festival attracted more visitors from outside Catalonia than ever before, and this year’s event is set to attract even more. The festival will also feature more elaborate floral installations and other activities such as free outdoor performances.
7. To see Figueres’ International Circus Festival
The town of Figueres lies just over 40 kilometres from Girona and will host the International Circus Festival from the 16th to the 20th of February 2017. Set to attract over 30,000 spectators from all of Europe, it will feature 82 artists from 12 different countries worldwide, including acrobats, clowns, trapeze artists and contortionists.
8. They celebrate St George’s Day better than the English
Not many foreigners know that St George is not only the patron saint of England, but of Catalonia too. Every April 23rd on La Diada de Sant Jordi (St George’s Day), the whole region celebrates with the buying of books and the giving of roses. In Girona, book stands are set up in the city’s plazas, local authors come to give talks and rose stalls line the streets.
9. The city’s proximity to some of Spain’s best beaches
Summer is the perfect time to visit Girona due to its proximity to some of Spain’s best beaches along the Costa Brava. Dotted with picturesque fishing villages and charming resort towns, as well as hidden sandy coves and pebbly inlets, you’ll find plenty of places to relax and explore.
10. A new archaeological site will be opening nearby
This year will see the opening of the ‘Criptoporticum’ – part of the archaeological site of Empúries, located around one hour’s drive east of Girona. Empúries is the only archaeological site in the Iberian Peninsula where the remains of a Greek city Empòrion coexist with those from the Roman city, Emporiae.