Bare rocks, scarce vegetation, stacked terraces, dusty roads, white houses, blue sea, fishing boats, flues spread out to dry and a few stone pines: Port de la Selva in July.
Port de la Selva is small and simple in comparison to Cadaqués, which is known for glamour and prestige all through the Costa Brava. The small town of Port de la Selva is located at the other side of the natural park, a small fishing town, which is contrasting with Cadaqués.
Tourism, however, has found its way into the town in the sixties. Yet, the town is silent, even on Monday mornings and the beach is almost deserted; the sunlit water in the port basin is sparkling blue, clear enough to count the fishes.
Port de la Selva and its surrounding landscape are known for their very own charm, which has attracted both intellectuals and artists. For example, it has been a meeting point for Catalan poets, such as Alexandre Plana, Tomàs Garcès, Josep M. de Sagarra and J.V. Foix.
García Lorca and Dali have been spotted in cafés, chatting. It is most likely that waitresses usually were in a better mood back then.
The picturesque harbour is fringed with small white houses lining up the narrow, steep alleys to the church. We are reduced to lingering in the shadows; it is too warm and sunny a day. There are only a few shops, selling fancy foods. Most of the tourists come here from France or the surrounding Catalan cities.
The towns harbour is one of the most important harbours of the entire county. In the tourists’ office, we gather information concerning the fishers’ return in the evening. We are told that they will be back right in time for the fishers’ bazaar taking place at 5pm. Thus, we have enough time to take a short detour to La Selva de Mar, an old village situated close to the mountains, only two kilometres away from Port de la Selva. It is common knowledge here that Port de la Selva once belonged to the medieval village La Selva del Mar.
Back then, the beach was empty, except for a few cottages, where the fishers kept their belongings and materials. By and by, a new village formed around the harbour. In 1725, the first church was built, and in 1781, the village became independent by a decree from King Carlos III.
The enchantment of times now long gone by is still alive in the old village and its cloister Sant Pere de Rodes. A long time ago, people used to make a living by growing wine and olives, or by fishing. Today, the fully restored stone houses are used as holiday homes or small restaurants.
For all those interested in surfing, Port de la Selva has another surprise in store: The Tramuntana, known for usually blowing seawards, is blowing in the other direction here, due to the bay’s location. This means, there is not as much danger of being carried away and onto the sea as, for example, in the bay of Roses. Still, beginners should not go surfing alone here, as waves are at least two metres high.