Cycling the Dalí Trail
Exploring the life of Salvador Dalí, one of the world’s greatest and most unusual artists. From Girona to Cadequés, the northern border of Catalonia where Dalí was born, raised and lived.
While it’s totally possible to do it in one day, Ross and Alicia split the 92km journey into two, as there is plenty to discover the way. Aside from visits to the Gala-Dalí Castle, Dalí House Museum and the Dalí Theatre Museum, you can also spend the day in the heart of the Catalan countryside getting a true feel for the local culture, architecture, traditions and cuisine that helped inspire Dalí’s world renown art and lifestyle.
Day 1: Girona to Figueres, 50km
The trip started from Girona, a cycling mecca in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region, beside the River Onyar. It’s known for its medieval architecture, walled Old Quarter and the Roman remains of the Força Vella fortress. It's also renowned for its beautiful biking routes, lycra clad locals, famous cycling faces and coffee shops.
Before you leave Girona, we recommend fuelling up in one of these local hot spots:
If you need to rent a bike:
From there the route heads north into the countryside, in seach of the first stop along (our version of) the Salvador Dalí trail: The Gala-Dalí Castle, Púbol.
"Le château de Gala, la Gala du château"
Riding through a tree farm plantation in Celra, known colloquially as Stick Farm... "beautiful farm lanes, the trees flower and blossom. A curated, river connected path with amost zero cars"
At the Gala-Dalí Castle of Púbol, it's possible to discover the medieval building that Dalí bought in 1969.
When Dalí bought the castle in 1969, it was in a very poor state, with collapsed ceilings, substantial cracks and a much neglected yard. However, it gave the house a very romantic atmosphere that the Dalí couple appreciated and tried to retain during the restoration work they undertook. A mysterious, private, austere and sober place, with spaces of great beauty, such as the former kitchen converted into a bathroom or the Piano Room.
"Everything celebrates the cult of Gala, even the round room, with its perfect echo that crowns the building as a whole and which is like a dome of this Galactic cathedral. When I walk around this house I look at myself and I see my concentricity. I like its moorish rigour. I needed to offer Gala a case more solemnly worthy of our love. That is why I gave her a mansion built on the remains of a 12th century castle: the old castle of Púbol in La Bisbal, where she would reign like an absolute sovereign, right up to the point that I could visit her only by hand-written invitation from her. I limited myself to the pleasure of decorating her ceilings so that when she raised her eyes, she would always find me in her sky". - Dalí, Confessions inconfessables (1973)
Púbol Castle is thus a highly significant place in the Dalinian creation: it is a continuation of Portlligat with a personality of its own. It is Dalí's gift to his wife Gala, to whom he took an oath of allegiance and where he could not gain access without written permission from her.
“Riding through catalunya it’s a common surprise to turn a corner and be greeted with medieval architecture, the stone work breaking up the scenery of the ride”
Stopping for coffee on the cobbled squares of Púbol
Onwards, in search of the Dalí Theatre-Museum, The world's largest surrealist object.
"Where, if not in my own town, should the most extravagant and solid of my work endure, where if not here? The Municipal Theatre, or what remained of it, struck me as very appropriate, and for three reasons: first, because I am an eminently theatrical painter; second, because the theatre stands right opposite the church where I was baptised; and third, because it was precisely in the hall of the vestibule of the theatre where I hosted my first exhibition." - Salvador Dalí
Inaugurated in 1974, the Dalí Theatre-Museum rises on the remains of the former Municipal Theatre of Figueres and is considered to be the last great work of Salvador Dalí. Everything in it was conceived and designed by the artist so as to offer visitors a real experience and draw them into his unique and captivating world.
The Dalí Theatre-Museum's collection allows the visitors to capture the artistic journey of Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) through a broadspectrum of works. The route around the rooms allows visitors to capture his first artistic experiences, surrealism, nuclear mysticism and his passion for science, guiding them tothe works of the last part of his life.
"It's obvious that other worlds exist, that's certain; but, as I've already said in many other occasions, these other worlds are inside ours, they reside on earth and are precisely at the centre of the dome of the Dalí Museum, which contains the new, unsuspected and hallucinatory world of Surrealism". - Salvador Dalí
It seemed Dali decorated his museum with "larger than life popcorn kernels"
On day 1, Ross wore:
Day 2: Figueres to Cadaqués, 42km
After a night at the Hotel Emporada in Figueres, Ross and Alicia set off for their final stretch of the journey, in search of the Dalí house museum in Port Lligat.
An easy undulating roll out towards the coast across Alt Empordà, culminating in the Cap de Creus climb, an unavoidable mass that must be transversed to reach this part of the coast. It's a significant climb, the descent feels like a perfectly paved concrete rollercoaster with views across the Mediterranean. Just far out enough from Girona to not be on everyones hit list, this climb knocks the pants off it’s more famous cousin, Rocacorba.
Alicia pacing Ross up the Cap de Creus climb
“coming over the top of Cap de Creus we were rewarded with the stunning view of the med, a beacon for the end of the days journey”
The Cap de Creus climb is... Twisty, smooth, hot and spectacular. Like Majorca without the crowds and prettier buildings too. Cadaqués feels like a secret, hermetic enclave, and as you descend the cap it feels as though you are being invited into a unique, almost magical place. Do it at dusk as the sun is dropping and the sensation is manifold...
Dalí's house is a veritable labyrinth shifting through narrow corridors and passageways into the rooms and workshop where Dalí and his wife Gala lived; which are still decorated with the original ornaments and furniture from when they resided there.
Getting into character at the third Dalí attraction along the trail
The chance to visit Cadaques is in itself worth the trip north. Cadaqués, with its whitewashed houses, winding cobbled streets, galleries and shops, has been the home of many artists, including Pablo Picasso (1910) and is still an artist colony today. Cadaqués’ unique and tricky location, surrounded by miles of stone wall terracing is the perfect place to end the journey.
"One of my favourite things about riding in this area is the variety of terrain and consistency of pleasure from the riding. All along the costa brava the view changes continually, every turn of the road (of which there are many) brings a fresh, frequently dramatic, vista..." - Ross
On day 2, Ross wore:
Photos by Peloton Brief