L’Escala, a small town close to the Golf of Roses, was once known for its sardines and for anchovy fishing. Today, tourism has become the town’s main economic factor.
The Club Nautic L’Escala is a regular host of international contests and regattas. We take a walk along the esplanade close to the sea, in order to visit the city’s Old Town, which still holds much of the charm typical for Mediterranean fishing villages. The small, steep alleys with their white houses and their wrought-iron balconies and terraces still look like they did many years ago. Traditions and fiestas have been kept alive, too. For example, there is the Festa del Carme on July 16th. The mermaid’s procession to the church of Sant Pere is a yearly highlight for inhabitants and tourists alike.
In L’Escala, there are many places to dine. The cuisine is traditional, and fish is a major component of most dishes. After our long time out on the boat, we decide to have a late lunch. We especially like the lunch served in the Hotel and Restaurant el Roser, which can be found close to the Carrer Església, and the view from the Terrasse des 1869. Good places to eat can also be found in the fishery harbour. On weekdays, the menu is available for 8,50 €. On Thursday s, an excellent Paella is part of the menu. L’Escala is always worth a visit.
Wisterias stand in full bloom between the old stone walls of Sant Martí d’Empúries. The small, medieval town used to be the main city of the ancient county Empúries and until today it sits enthroned on a cliff above the sea. The shore lies in the sun of spring, a white temptress, inviting us to enjoy the year’s first rays of sunshine. All along the beach with its bays and rocks runs the Costa Brava’s most romantic esplanade, connecting Empúries and L’Escala.
It was here, where the first Greek settlers came ashore in the 6th century BC, and it is the Greek we owe thanks for the impressive ruins of Empúries. They named the first town they arrived at – a small island indeed – Paliapolis. Today, Paliapolis is an island no more; it is now connected to the mainland and called Sant Martí d’Empúries. A little bit later, the Romans were just as enchanted as the Greek. They built a city here in the first century BC, and used it as a military base. In the times of Caesar Augustus, it formed a union with the city of Municipium Emporiae. Since both the Greek and the Romans have contributed significantly to the city’s history, Empúries is archaeologically unique. And there has been something new here to marvel:
The Statue of Aesclepios, or Esculapi de Empúries, one of the region’s most important archaeological findings. The Statue of Aesclepios was first discovered in 1909, right here in Empuries, but was kept in Barcelona’s Archaelogical Museum until very recently for means of restoration. New research suggests that the statue is well over 2200 years old. Since March 15th 2008, many visitors of Empuries have been able to marvel at the Statue in the Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya (MAC).
Aesclepios, called Asklepios by the Greek and Aesculapius by the Romans, is the Greek god of Healing. His origins probably deriving from a Thessalian Demon, he was known as the son of Apoll and Coronis. His sign was – and is – the Odem, a staff entwined with a holy snake. The walk through the ruins of Empúries is an experience you do not want to miss: unique views of the sea, antique pillars, marvelous mosaics, Mediterranean vegetation and a feeling of what it must have been like to live here, a long time ago. Everything is topped of by a glass of wine fine.
We are excited.