Today we transitioned from the sunshine and warmth of Costa Brava, into the areas in northern Catalunya bordering the mountainous Pyrenees.
Our first stop of the day was the medieval town of Besalu, which was once a very historic Jewish town. It is yet another town filled with narrow alleys that have evolved in a time before vehicles rather than having been planned and adapted to the conveniences of modern life.
But, for all the intriguing nooks and alleys of the town, the drawcard of this tiny village is the stunning 12th century bridge that crosses the Fluvia River (which was brown and swollen from all the recent rains).
The bridge looks like something that should be in a fantasy novel, with the large arches, the fortified gate, and the change of direction in the middle. Sitting in the shade of the tower gate was a performer playing the most enchanting music on steel drums, which seemed to flow with the wind into town, slowly enchanting us to come towards the source. I was hoping that I would be able to find a video for posterity sake, but I’m out of luck.
As we walked back to our car, we crossed the modern bridge which gave incredible views of the bridge, seeming that every new angle was fresh and unique and tempting me to take yet another photo to my already bloating memory card.
Reading through the Lonely Planet for the region, another small village grabbed my attention. Castellfollit de la Roca is perched high upon a vertical rocky cliff, like the kind of place in fairy tales – much like the impossible bridge this morning.
We drove in to town from below, and the town was unmistakable, even from quite a distance away. As we got a little closer, including a short walk down to a bridge that was recently submerged, past the angry horses, it was amazing just how close the buildings were to the edge of that sheer cliff.
Getting closer was a bit of a challenge in our car, but fortunately I gave up at the right time and didn’t try to drive right to the end of the road where the church is. It looked impossible to me, but there were cars and garages down these alleyways, as well as a small car park by the church.
The church was a bit of a public art gallery space, but the view from the tower was the reason that we visited. Now that we were high above the houses that were perched on the very edge of the cliff, I was starting to feel an overwhelming sense of vertigo for the people that lived there. I know it’s no different to living in a high-rise apartment – I guess I have more faith in a modern building, rather than something built hundreds of years ago, on the edge of something that will likely crumble and erode eventually…