Tossa de Mar

Located on the Girona coast, at half way between the city of Barcelona and the French border, Tossa de Mar is an ancient fishermen's village with an important historical background, that has been transformed during the last 50 years into an emblematic tourist destination of the Costa Brava area.

Imagine a place where you can travel in time back to a former age. Tossa is like an open-air museum where prehistoric remains overlap with Roman Turissa, medieval Tursa and today's Tossa, one-time retreat for artists and intellectuals and now host town for tourists and visitors.

The Ametllers Roman Villa

The most noteworthy of the Roman villas in the area is undoubtedly Els Ametllers.
Els Ametllers (1st c. BC - 6th c. AD), discovered in 1914 by Dr Ignasi Melé, was one of the most important villas in the ancient Roman province of Tarraco. This is a classic example of a Roman Mediterranean farming establishment, where vineyards were tended and large quantities of wine were exported. Architecturally speaking, it has a two-tier structure of pars urbana and pars fructuaria,.
The noble dwelling area (pars urbana), on the upper level of the site, reflects the overall magnificence of this villa, especially in the 2nd century AD. Its exceptional splendour can be seen in the fine thermal baths, the mosaics and stuccos, the unusual winter dining room, the fountain (nymphaeum) and the bathing pool with its impressive Carrara marble sculptures (now kept in Tossa Municipal Museum).
The functional area (pars fructuaria), on the lower level, had grain houses and other rooms used for processing the villa’s agricultural produce, e.g. wine, oil and salted goods.
Bone and ivory styluses, ceramics, coins and brooches (fibulae) on display in Tossa Municipal Museum bear witness to the daily life of the villa.

Vila Vella Ramparts

The emblematic walled Vila Vella or Old Town of Tossa is the sole remaining fortified medieval town on the Catalan coast and was listed as an artistic-historic monument in 1931. The original structure dates from the 13th-century.
The original perimeter walls and battlements are largely conserved, with four large towers and three machicolated cylindrical towers. The best-known towers are Joanàs Tower overlooking the bay; Clock Tower at the entrance to the parade ground, thus named because it was the only public clock in the town; and Codolar Tower (or Keep), overlooking Codolar beach. The rectangular castle with a watchtower at the top of the Vila Vella was replaced by the present-day lighthouse.
The Vila Vella itself is a charming place with narrow cobbled streets. In the 15th and 16th-century age of splendour, the town boasted eighty houses. A superb voussoired entrance gate gives access to the Vila Vella via the former parade ground. In the 16th century, however, the town started to expand beyond the walls, with the first extra-mural houses built in Sa Roqueta district along the highroad.
Inside the Vila Vella there are the remains of the late-Gothic 15th-century church of Sant Vicenç. The church had a single nave and a 3-sided polygonal chevet; the west arm of the transept was made up of the sacristy and a side chapel; the east arm probably opened out into a row of three chapels. Today, the only remaining covered parts are the apse and the sacristy. The pointed arch of the chevet is sustained by six ribs meeting at a keystone decorated with an image of St Vincent.

Can Magí Tower (or Moors’ Tower)

The Moors’ Tower is a prime example of the watch towers constructed by King Philip II along the Spanish Mediterranean coast in the 16th century to protect the populace from incursions and raids by North African pirates. The towers were strategically situated along the coast and linked by day with smoke signals and by night with light signals. Watchmen were permanently posted to warn townspeople of imminent Moorish attack, thus enabling them to seek protection within the city walls. The Moors’ Tower was a classic two-storey building with a wooden floor, loopholes and barbican. It was linked up with Pólvora Tower, Agulla de Pola Watchtower and probably also with the tower of the Vila Vella former castle.

Chapel of Mare de Deu dels Socors

The 16th-century chapel was apparently built by a sailor called Antoni Caixa as a votive offering to Our Lady of Bon Secours for her intervention in saving him from a shipwreck. Today’s building, however, is the result of reforms carried out in the 18th century. The chapel was first constructed on the site of an old boundary cross next to the highroad to Girona and the path to Lloret. Popular devotion by sailors and wayfarers alike soon made the chapel into a major religious centre.

Can Ganga o Can Leandro

Can Ganga, in the fishermen’s district of Sa Roqueta, was one of the first farmhouses built outside the town walls at the time of the 16th-century population increase. The isolated seafront farmhouse was fortified to protect it from the frequent pirate attacks of the time. The magnificent rounded entrance door is guarded by a machicolation to deter Moorish raiders. The Gothic windows with their beautiful sculpted putti are outstanding. Inside the building there is a perfectly conserved food safe carved out of the rock.

Mas Rabassa farmhouse (Can Magí)

Mas Rabassa (14th century) is a fortified farmhouse that has a 16th-century quadrangular lookout tower. Architectural features include a barbican and a 17th-century corner sentry box on the first floor.

Church of Sant Vicenç

The neo-classical parish church of Sant Vicenç was built in 1755 at a time when the former 15th-century church in the Vila Vella had become too small for the congregation. The 16th-century expansion of Tossa beyond its walls meant that the old church was also too far away. The large volume of the central nave contrasts with the plainness of the rest of the building. The church was originally decorated with simple baroque altarpieces and images. Unfortunately, however, this valuable heritage disappeared during the Spanish Civil War, with the exception of an altar of the Virgin Mary.
Recent renovation of the interior paintwork has brought back some of the church’s former beauty and luminosity.

Cultural Centre (Former Hospital of Sant Miquel)

The Hospital of Sant Miquel was founded in 1773 at Tomàs Vidal Rei's last will. This man was an outstanding local figure considered to be the precursor of the indianos, i.e. Spaniards who returned from the Americas after making their fortune. Tomàs Vidal had travelled to both Puerto Rico and Guatemala long before King Charles III liberalized trade in 1765 by opening up Spanish ports to American ships. On his return to Tossa, Vidal donated much of his American fortune to the construction of a charity hospital for the poor.

The large, rectangular 2-storey hospital is built around a cloister, with a side chapel dedicated to St Michael, patron saint of 18th century hospitals in Catalonia. The simple baroque image of St Michael on the main altar, fashioned in nearby Cas Fuster workshop, is of particular interest.

The Santuary of Sant Grau

The sanctuary of Sant Grau is located 15 km north from Tossa in the Cadiretes massif. The outside of the building is Neo-gothic styled. The sanctuary’s history goes back to a popular legend on Saint Grau from Aurillac who seemed to have lived here during the 9th century. In 1200 Maria from Montpellier -mother of the Catalan King James the 1st, the Conqueror - obtained the relics of the Saint for this Sanctuary.

Casa Sans

Casa Sans is a unique eclectic-style house, commissioned in 1906 by Joan Sans to Antoni de Falguera. The building has an unusual sea-facing façade, with Modernist gargoyles representing the four seasons, trencadís mosaics made from glazed ceramic shards, and wrought iron similar to that found in Gaudí’s Casa Vicens in Barcelona. The façade was originally decorated with vegetal motifs and adorned with two female figures that have since disappeared. Most of Antoni de Falguera’s original interior decoration is still preserved. The magnificent stained glass windows with their vegetal patterns and the spectacular fireplace are absolutely characteristic of the Catalan Modernist style. The marble staircase and the fountain with its Frederic Marés sculpture of Diana the Huntress both belong to a later period, after Casa Sans was acquired by the Vilallonga family in 1930.

Municipal Museum

The Municipal Museum, in the former Governor’s House, opened on 1st September 1935 to become the first contemporary art gallery in Spain. Artists had always been drawn to Tossa, and the beauty of its landscape had inspired many late 19th-century works. In the first half of the nineteen-thirties, however, the town began to attract artists of all descriptions and backgrounds and became for a while an avant-garde centre. Catalan artists Rafael Benet and Pere Créixams, who already spent periods in Tossa, were joined by well-known artists from abroad such as Marc Chagall, André Masson and Georges Kars who came to live and work in the town. Some of these artists stayed on right up to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, which effectively brought this particularly fruitful period to a close. Before the onset of this grim period of our history, however, a group of art loving intellectuals founded the Municipal Museum in 1935 in order to preserve the creative output of the moment, as well as the archaeological heritage from the Els Ametllers Roman villa. Today the museum houses a major art collection and many archaeological findings from the villa.





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About Girona Experience

Girona Experience is a company specialized in the organization of tailored tours to discover some of the most magical corners of Girona, we organise all our trips in a luxurious 6 seats van. Free transport.

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