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Inside Salvador Dalí's enigmatic home in Portlligat

Catalan surrealist genius created most of his masterpieces from his idyllic Costa Brava home

View of Salvador Dalí's house in Portlligat
View of Salvador Dalí's house in Portlligat / Catalan News
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May 11, 2024 07:22 PM

May 11, 2024 07:29 PM

White fishermen's huts, a pebble beach with fishing boats, a rocky coastline and green mountains overlooking a deep blue, calm sea. This is the landscape that inspired Salvador Dalí, the Catalan surrealist genius.   

Portlligat is a tiny town on a small cove in the Cap de Creus peninsula, a rocky stretch of land in northern Catalonia jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea near the French border. It was here that Salvador and Gala Dalí spent most of their lives, in a quirky house that can be visited today, left just as it was when they lived there.  

The couple met in 1929, when Dalí was emerging as a surrealist painter and invited his Parisian friends to Cadaqués. Among them was the French poet Paul Éluard and his wife Gala, who immediately bonded with Dalí and eventually left Éluard for a life with the painter.   

Dalí and Gala soon moved into a fishermen's hut in Portlligat, which did not even have drinking water. As the years went by, they bought other fishermen's huts next door and expanded the house, which was not completed until more than 40 years later. 


Surreal interior: Dalí's labyrinthine house 

The interior of the home is a labyrinth of narrow corridors, irregular staircases, and unmatching floor levels. In Dalí's words, it's "like a true biological structure," a "creature" as alive as its inhabitants.  

As you enter, you are greeted by a life-size taxidermy polar bear. Dalí loved taxidermy, and there are countless stuffed animals adorning the house. Everything in the house is original, except for the books and paintings, and was carefully curated by Salvador and Gala, who knew that one day the house would be open to visitors.  

One of the most special places in the house is the bedroom, which has three levels. On the lowest level, there is a breathtaking view of the sea, and the artist positioned a mirror in the exact right place so that they could see the sea from bed.   


Since Cap de Creus is the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, Dalí would say that he was the first person to see the sunrise in all of Spain, without even having to get out of bed.  

On the second floor of the bedroom there is a cage where Dalí kept birds so he could hear them singing when he woke up, while on the wall there is another cage where he kept a cricket so that he could fall asleep to its sound. Importantly for Dalí, the cricket had to come from Olot, a town in the middle of the Pyrenees, because those were known to sing the best. 

Another captivating space is the workshop where Dalí found the calm and inspiration to produce a vast array of works. With breathtaking views overlooking the bay of Portlligat, it was here that Dalí created masterpieces such as "The Persistence of Memory," "The Elephants," and "Galatea of the Spheres." 

In fact, there are two paintings that remain unfinished, frozen in time since Dalí left the house in 1982 after Gala's death. Without his beloved wife and muse, Dalí never found solace and sought refuge in the Castle of Púbol, a medieval castle he had purchased for Gala, and never returned to Portlligat. 

To learn more about Dalí's home in Portlligat, listen to the latest episode of our podcast Filling the Sink.