The largest fortress in Europe, from 18th century.
Monumental, enormous and impressive.
The fort above the town of Figueres offers sweeping views up to the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees. Because of its exposed location, it played a significant role during the Spanish Civil War. Built in the 18th Century to protect Spain against the French, the complex is an exceptionally large military defensive system. Named after King Fernando VI. the installation has an outer diameter of about 3 km and covers a total of 32 hectares. The fort is an irregular octagon which is surrounded by a double wall, and has numerous bastions, moats, drawbridges and a remarkable parade.
The cisterns located under the parade ground are particularly surprising. There can be stored a supply of 40 million litres. Provided for a crew of 6,000 men the Castell de Sant Ferran represents a supreme cultural heritage. It is the largest building of Catalonia and the biggest bastion fort built in Europe in the 18th century. The complex was planned by several military architects, including Pere M. Cermeño and Joan M. Cermeño.
Nonetheless the fortress of Sant Ferran was briefly won over and occupied by the French during the Napoleonic War. Captured by Napoleon’s troops the defender of Girona – General Alvarez de Castro died here on 22 January 1810. General Alvarez de Castro was considered a hero of the region, as he had once successfully rescued Girona from the French in 1809. Later the fort was conquered back by the native troops due to a bold attack. Thereby ended the first and last occupation in the history of the fortress.
In 1927 as well Salvador Dalí rendered his military service in the Castell de Sant Ferran in Figueres. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War Sant Ferran became a stronghold for international brigades, ammunition and storage place for art. Many Spanish art pieces from the Prado in Madrid were deposited in Sant Ferran during the time of the Civil war, to save them from destruction.
In February 1939 the last meeting of the Republican government….
…. took place at the castle. Its members were already on the run from the Nationalists. On the same evening the ammunition depot was blown up in order to avoid it falling into the enemy‘s hands. The explosion was so violent that the dust over the city only settled after days. After the Civil War the Franco-Regime took over the fortress and used it for military purposes, as a training ground for soldiers and munitions depot.
Later, the importance of the castle decreased gradually, so that in 1966 it was finally no longer used militarily. It served as a prison for some time, for example those in charge of the military coup of 23 February 1981 were held there. Until today the fort has survived in its basic structure.
As early as 1949, the Castell de Sant Ferran was declared a Historic-Artistic monument, and since July 1997 tourists can visit it. Given the enormous scale, which is truly admirable considering the age of construction, the military-technical design and the good condition of the plant, turn a visit to the Castell de Sant Ferran into a unique experience. For groups are offered jeep tours over the vast terrain, and the catacombs can be explored by boat. With helmet and lamp, you endow the cool basement and are astonished by the clear water down there. After the tour there is still some time to explore the large area on your own. A glance at the stables is worth it. The endless vault once offered space for 500 horses. A tour of the plant is an adventure for the whole family.
Opening times: Easter and 1.7. – 15. 9., 10.30 – 20.00 h / 11. – 28.2., 10.30 – 14.00 h otherwise 10.30 h – 15 h / 1.1. + 25.12. closed
Audio Tour: Individual tour with headphones: Spanish, French, German, English, Dutch, Italian. (About 1h)
Tour of the inside of the fortress: Duration approximately 1h – 1.5h
Special guided tour with wine tasting: Duration 1.5 h – 2h
Guided Discovery Tours: Jeep tour through the fortress and castle moats + boat ride through the water reservoirs. Duration approximately 2h – 2.5h
Information and reservations: Tel 972 50 60 94 (Fax 972 67 44 99)
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