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Besalú

Besalú is a municipality in the province of Girona in the Spanish autonomous region of Catalunya. Besalú was already an important place in the Roman period and when the Moors were expelled from this part of the Iberian mainland it became one of the first independent counties and it prospered well. This you can still see in its many medieval monuments.

The bridge Puente Viejo is one of the most beautiful monuments of Besalú. The bridge was built in the 14th century on the remains of an ancient Roman bridge. The bridge has seven pointed arches and a tower with a narrow arch in the middle. The bridge is 100 meters long and 30 meters high. The entrance to the city was guarded by two towers. These reinforcements were used as defense against attacks on the city and as tollgate.

In 1960 the remains of a 13th century mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath, were discovered. This bath is one of the few that still exist in Spain. Every Thursday the same rituals take place as in former days. Previously there was a large Jewish community in Besalú. There are also remains of an ancient synagogue.

Besalú was an important place of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages and the counts of Besalú built the Hospital of Sant Julia as accommodation for the pilgrims. The hospital consisted of two parts, the hospital itself at the river and the other part was the church dedicated to San Julian. The building still has its 12th century façade. Today the building is used as a social and cultural center.

Only the church is left of the Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere, which was founded in 977 and had an important role in the 12th and 13th centuries. The façade has a large window flanked by lions. Inside there are tombs and a beautiful cloister. On the columns you will find inscriptions of biblical scenes, plants and animals.

The Cornella house is one of the best preserved Roman public houses of Catalunya. Built in the 12th century the house surrounds a central courtyard. The Cornella family owned the house till the 15th century. The first floor has a beautiful gallery.

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