Girona flourishes again with its Temps de Flors festival
Spring is back in Girona as until this weekend the Catalan city is filled with thousands of flowers to celebrate Temps de Flors (Flowers Time), the most important Catalan flower festival and an essential social and cultural event for the city. In its 59th edition, which will run until the 18th May, Temps de Flors offers a total of 185 different free exhibitions, including beautiful historic patios as well as some new sights, like the Cathedral basement or the Casa Pastors. Most of the spots are in the open air, so tourists can appreciate them while strolling through the heart of Girona. This year’s edition includes an emotional tribute to Maria Cobarsí, the promoter of the festival who died in 2013.
Girona (CNA) - Girona is filled these days with thousands of flowers to celebrate Temps de Flors (Flowers Time), the most important Catalan flower show and an essential social and cultural event for the city. In its 59th edition, that will run until the 18th May, Temps de Flors is showing a total of 185 different free exhibitions, including the lovely historic patios and some new sights, like the Cathedral basement or the Casa Pastors. Most of the spots are in the open air, so tourists can appreciate them while strolling through the heart of Girona. This year’s edition includes an emotional tribute to Maria Cobarsí, the promoter of the festival who died in 2013.
The origin of Temps de Flors dates back to 1954, when it was born as an indoor exhibition supported by the City Council, the Girona Provincial Council and the Women’s Section of Franco's dictatorial regime. Gradually, this floral experience began to spread to other parts of the city thanks to the selfless participation of amateurs and professionals, educational institutions and business entities. Argi González, an accredited tour guide, stated that “one of the best aspects of Temps de Flors is that it has found a point of balance between voluntary work and commercial interest”.
With the arrival of democracy to Spain, l’Associació d’Amics de les Flors i dels Jardins (Flowers and Gardens Friends Association) inherited the organization of the event and it became larger with the inclusion of private house patios, which Girona locals offered to promoters. Since then, the festival has grown year on year and now reaches 185 sites in its present edition, including 82 patios, 52 monuments and 9 gardens.
Some advice for first-time visitors
At this time of the year Temps de Flors is the main attraction of Girona for foreign visitors. Last year, the flower show brought 200,000 people to the city in just 10 days. The largest part of the public corresponds to Catalan visitors (61.4%), principally from Barcelona. The rest of the tourists come from abroad (34.5%) or Spain (4.1%). As Girona gets really crowded over the Festival, the City Council provides a list of practical advice to all visitors.
For instance, if visitors are coming by car it is better to park outside, on the north area, which is only a few minutes away from the Old Town. Bus or train are both good choices as the general stations are both in the centre. The Spanish railway system (Renfe) has improved its connections for these days and has provided 60,000 services connecting Girona to Barcelona, Zaragoza, Paris and Madrid in order to attract more visitors, with 16,000 promotional services offering a 70% price discount.
All spaces are open every day from 10am to 9pm (except on Wednesday and Saturday, when they are open until midnight) and are completely free. Visitors must wear good footwear to withstand the nearly four hours of walking which are needed to take in the show. The organization also recommends walking around the city following one of the two routes in the right direction, as a way of avoiding crowd build-up.
The perfect tourist route
Both routes are marked on the official map so tourists cannot get lost. The easier one is the blue route, which follows Ciutadans Street (later called Força Street) across the Old Town from Catalunya Square straight across to the Cathedral, one of the main attractions of Girona and the Festival.
Following the route visitors will first walk across Vi Square, where there is the possibility to visit the entrance to the Town Hall and also the Local Theatre. On the way to the Cathedral other attractions can be taken in such as the Sant Martí Church staircase or El Carme Church.
Soon the visitors reach the Call, the historical Jewish Quarter of Girona, which hosts the Museum of Jewish History, free these days. This peculiar museum is placed in one of the ancient houses of the Quarter, and its patio is also part of the flower festival. But this is not the only museum that is open as all the other galleries of Girona are free during the week, as a way of promoting its cultural heritage and of bringing thousands of visitors to the city.
Making their way across the Old Town, visitors will have the chance to see various private patios dressed for the occasion. For the festival any free space is filled with flowers, and even the shops decorate their window display, and bars and restaurants their terraces.
At the top of the route there is the famous Girona Cathedral whose large staircase is always an unforgettable spot. This year the place displays a floral relief depicting the face of Maria Cobarsí. She was for years the soul of Temps de Flors and died in 2013, hence the festival organizers decided to pay her a tribute. Close to the staircase there is also the entry to the Cathedral basement -which is one of the novelties of this edition-, and the church of Sant Lluc.
For those visitors who do not want to miss any details, and are prepared to make a short detour, there is an interesting chance: walk up to the Cathedral to get to the cloister. Near here, there are other points of interest like the Arab baths (that are open only a few times a year) or the Gironella Tower. The public gardens are a perfect place to rest for a while before resuming the walk, and a good option is the Alemanys Garden. An excellent way to bring a happy ending to the visit is to cross the River Onyar through the bridges, one of them designed by the creator of Paris' Tour Eiffel.
A complete cultural offer
During the days of the flower festival the city of Girona also programmes a great range of varied cultural activities. In Independència Square, a stage has been set up where every day musical performances are offered by 'a cappella' music bands. For finer tastes, there are up to 41 restaurants that have designed special menus where flower blossoms are the main ingredient. Suggestive proposals such as salad with shrimp and petals, fruit tartar of mint and violets or beef burger with rosemary flowers, are just some examples of the dishes that can be tasted until next Sunday in Girona.