La Platja d´Aro to Calonge
La Platja d´Aro itself is a hodgepodge of ugly ’60s hotels and apartment blocks, but at least the streets are lined with trees. There are some good shops, and one of the many discotheques in this resort town has the distinction of being the oldest on the Costa Brava. The Platja Gran is actually a very nice beach, dominated by the Cavall Bernat or Bernard’s Horse, a huge granite rock eroded over centuries into its current strange shape. Its original name was Carall, meaning penis or phallus. On the town’s outskirts is the incongruously named Big Rock, one of the most famous restaurants on the entire coast. Located on a hilltop, the huge eighteenth-century masia is surrounded by greenhouses that become dining rooms in the summer months.
Castell d’Aro itself is well worth a visit. The narrow windy streets around the church and the castle are part of the original nucleus, and the majority of the houses bear the year of their construction and the names of their original owners on the lintels over their doorways. The rectory was built in 1569 with a shield of the nobility and the typical “pechina de pecten” engraved in the window. The church is in the Gothic style, consisting of only one nave with side chapels and “cabecera de 5 caras”. The Castle of Benedormiens has been well restored so that the remains of the ancient fortress are preserved. It is now mainly used for art exhibitions. From the flat roof there is a spectacular view of the whole valley, a sign of the strategic position of the castle in olden times.
There is a pleasant path leading from la Platja Gran to some lovely beaches along the five km stretch to Sant Antoni de Calonge, but getting close to them by car can be difficult. There is no such thing as a private beach in Spain, so, while some of the driveways and stairways such as those of the Hotel Park Sant Jorge are private, you may legally insist on using them to walk to and from the shore. Call a policeman if necessary.
Calonge itself is quite a big market town, and has an excellent 12th century castle with a 14th century residential wing.
This article was written by Francis Barrett. See also Francis' excellent guide to Ireland irelandbyways.com
Information about the Ampurdan
Ampurdan main page
Information about the Costa Brava
Accommodation in the Ampurdan and the Costa Brava