Besalú was an important town from Roman times, and when the Moors were expelled from this corner of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century AD, it was one of the first independent Earldoms that arose to fill the vacuum. It prospered and remained a place of importance well into the 14th century. In appearance the town remains almost completely medieval, boasting some monuments quite out of proportion to its current humble status. Sights include the impressive fortified bridge with seven irregular arches, the Romanesque church of Santa Vicenç (1018), the ruins of Romanesque Santa María (1055) on a rise overlooking the village, the 11th century Hospital, and the late 12th century monastery of San Pedro. Historical documents tell of a large Jewish community here, but the only physical remnant is the 12th century Mikva ritual bathhouse. The restaurant Pont Vell serves Catalan fare, including sweet and sour rabbit and duck with pears, at outdoor tables overlooking the bridge. Residència Maria (Cúria Reial) is situated in the refectory of an old convent, with economical home-style cooking. Fonda Xiqués, on the main road, has hearty meals based on traditional farm-dishes.
This article was written by Francis Barrett. See also Francis' excellent guide to Ireland irelandbyways.com
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