My favourite place in the Girona regions? Ask me an easier question, please.
It is impossible to fully understand the works of Salvador Dalí without getting to know his homeland, Empordà. The Dalí Triangle traces an incredible route around three unmissable museums that will transport you into the world of this surrealist master.
Brilliant. Unconventional. Passionate. And Empordanese. Salvador Dalí is a universally iconic figure, whose legend was forged in this small coastal region of Catalonia. The unique work of this artist, who was born in Figueres in 1904, is packed with references to the Costa Brava landscape that inspired and was so much a part of him. The coves, the cliffs, the light of the Mediterranean, the tramuntana north wind, the fishing villages, the native fauna and flora… The whole of Empordà was passed through Dalí’s surrealist filter, becoming embedded as an essential part of the artist’s legacy, one of Girona’s great cultural treasures, which we will be exploring today.
If you were to pick up a map of the Costa Brava and draw an imaginary line between the Empordà towns of Figueres, Portlligat (Cadaqués) and Púbol you would be sketching a triangle across the Empordà landscape, that is known as the Dalí Triangle. Just a stone’s throw from each other, each of these three points marks the site of one of the great sources of inspiration for Salvador Dalí’s life and work: the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the Gala Dalí Castle Museum in Púbol and the Salvador Dalí House Museum in Portlligat. No matter where you choose to start, you will be embarking on a unique adventure to explore the universe of Salvador Dalí and travel the most surreal route the Costa Brava has to offer.
Although the sites that make up the Dalí Triangle are all relatively close to each other, it is advisable to take at least two full days to enjoy them at a leisurely pace. This will give you plenty of time to stop and contemplate some of the most beautiful spots to be found on the Costa Brava and sample its delicious cuisine along the way.
The Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres
The world’s largest surrealist objet d’art and Salvador Dalí’s last major work, this museum was conceived and designed by the artist himself. The seed for the project was originally sown when, in the early 1960s, the then mayor of Figueres, Ramon Guardiola, contacted Dalí to ask whether he would donate a piece of his work to the Empordà Museum. The artist responded with the plan of gifting an entire museum to his native town.
Taking advantage of the neoclassical facade of the old Municipal Theatre, which had been partially destroyed at the end of the Spanish Civil War, Dalí conceived a space that would captivate visitors and draw them into his inner world. The outside of the museum provides a perfect illustration of the artist’s creative hallucinations, with its iconic glass dome and giant eggs that crown the building.
The tour around the museum’s exhibition rooms is a feast for the senses, which journeys through all the facets of art explored by Dalí: painting, sculpture, installations, holograms, photography, etc.; and spanning all stages of his creative career, with examples of his early works (impressionism, futurism, cubism and others), his surrealist creations and those he produced towards the end of his life.
«There is no doubt that other worlds exist; but, as I have said many times before, these other worlds form part of ours, they reside on earth and, specifically, at the heart of the dome at the Dalí Museum, the site of the whole new unsuspected and hallucinatory world of surrealism.”
The Gala Dalí Castle-Museum in Púbol
There are many medieval castles to be found on the Costa Brava and in the Girona Pyrenees but none quite like Púbol Castle, which provided the setting for a truly unique love story. Salvador Dalí bought this three-story building as a gift for his wife, Gala. It was a dilapidated old castle, with a romantic and melancholic air, which the Empordà artist renovated as a place of peace and seclusion for his lifelong muse.
Dalí created a mysterious place, full of unexpected, architectural ingenuity and stunningly beautiful spaces, turning the outbuildings of the castle into authentic surrealist works of art. The piano room, the garden with its long-legged elephants and the Gala mausoleum are some of the spaces that evoke Dalí’s dreamscape and there is no shortage of his pictorial works adorning the interiors. As Dalí himself explained in his Unspeakable Confessions (1973): «I was content to be the one who had decorated her ceilings so that, whenever she looked up, she would find me in her heaven.»
The artist was only allowed to visit the castle with written permission from Gala. It was a kind of ceremonial pact based on the idea of courtly love to thereby heighten desire and passion. After her death, Gala was laid to rest in the Sala del Delme crypt and Dalí moved into the castle to live and work. Two years later, however, he incurred serious burns from a fire that broke out in his bedroom and he was forced to move permanently to Figueres.
The Salvador Dalí House Museum in Portlligat
A visit to Portlligat Bay (Cadaqués) in Cap de Creus Natural Park completes the Dalí Triangle experience. It is easy to understand why Salvador Dalí decided to buy a small fisherman’s hut there in 1930, captivated by its panoramic beauty, light and isolation.
Over the years, Dalí and Gala turned the house into a unique space, expanding it with the addition of other neighbouring huts to create a labyrinthine structure filled with an infinite number of personal objects and mementos belonging to the couple. In Dalí’s words, it is «a real biological structure» that evolved over the years. «Each fresh impetus in our life corresponded to a new cell, a chamber.»
During your visit you will discover the dialogue between the cosy and magical interiors and the characteristic Costa Brava landscape, a constant reference in Dalí’s work. The spaces correspond to three differentiated zones: Dalí and Gala’s private living areas, the artist’s studio, and the outdoor space with paths and gardens which was central to the couple’s public persona. The house also includes an additional circular building that Dalí used as a studio, which contains sculptures and records of performances with his unmistakable stamp.
«Portlligat is the place of production. It’s the ideal place for my work. Everything conspires to make it so: time runs more slowly and each hour has its proper dimension. There is a geological tranquillity: it is a unique planetary event.»