Pals is located close to the Mediterranean, it has been an attractive place for visitors for a long time. It has first been mentioned in the 9th century, and now it is among the best-visited towns of the Costa Brava’s back-country. The Old Town with its steep, cobbled alleys and the old archways lies dreamingly upon a hill. It has not lost its medieval appearance and has been nominated for many awards ever since its restoration.
Between the archways, windows with pointed archs, stony balconies and humpy walls, one feels as though one has travelled into a different century - If it was not for the colourful little shops and restaurants, which are hidden in the medieval hallways. The owner of these shops and restaurants are now getting ready for the day: they present colourful ceramics and sundries; they lay the tables and clean their windows. We are strolling along the streets, heading for Torre de les Hores – a Roman, round belfry from the 11th or 12th century. It is standing on a large rock.
Right beside the tower, there is the private house of family Pi i Figueres. In the first half of the 20th century, Pals almost became a quarry. But thanks to Dr. Pi I Figuereas’ and the former mayor’s - Pere Servià i Cantó – dedication the restoration of Pals was paid using private and governmental funds. Dr Pi I Figueres is living in Barcelone now, but he has been born in Pals. He bought the land that once belonged to the fort of Pals and built a romantic old style house there.
Going on, we follow the walls of the city. Four prominent peels have remained intact and are now crowded by doves. We finally reach the viewpoint “Mirador Josep Pla“. The author Josep Pla described Pals and especially this place as something magical. From here, you have a great view, over the plains of Baix Empordà, the sea and to the Islands of Medes on the horizon.
The blossoms of a cactus form a colourful contrast to the wide blue sky. The Tramatuna is blowing strongly, and soon we seek shelter in the Old Town; shelter from the storm – and from the first load of rampaging tourists.
The church, called Sant Pere is an interesting mixture of baroque, gothic and romantic architecture. Some parts date back to 944. Inside, the church is rather plain and simple, safe for the window’s colourful ornaments. We always like to come back to Pals. Illuminated by the setting sun, the town has a magical appearance as well. Just as Josep Pla said “Pal shines resplendent and in the colour of apricots in the evening sun.”
The city’s name originates from the Latin word “palus”, which means “marshes”. A long time ago, Pals used to be surrounded by swamps and lakes. Today most of them have been dried up and cultivated; some of them are used to grow rice.
But Pals is not only surrounded by fields of rice. There are also large golf courses. A gold curse called Platja de Pals has been started up in 1968 – it was Spain’s first golf curse ever.
The districts Els Masos de Pals and Sa Punta (Platja de Pals) belong to Pals as well. Beginning in 1959, twelve antenna towers have been built on Sa Punta’s long sandy beach. Luckily, they were destroyed on March 22nd, 2006. Now the area will become a wildlife sanctuary.