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The El Port de la Selva area is characterised by a wonderful variety of landscapes and scenery to inspire your senses. It may be enough for you to spend time on the beaches and magical coves of the area, or if you like to get out and about then head off on some of the routes, or just enjoy what is also a snorkelling paradise.
It’s a location that’s a photographer’s or artist’s dream, with its varied palette of greenery from the embracing nature and vines, to the blue of the Mediterranean sea and the sky. Depending on the time of day, light and kindness of the weather, the light reflects a wonderful range of hues – some that perhaps don’t have names!
The area close to the village is rich in history and cultural heritage, that ranges from prehistoric right through to recent history. However the period that stand out is the medieval era. The superb Monastery of Saint Peter of Rhodes is a must see here, regardless of whether you consider yourself to be religious or not.
Located in the district of Alt Emporda, the municipality includes the town of Santa Creu Valley, and the town of Port de la Selva, which sits on the north of Cap de Creus peninsula, which is the quieter, northern sector of the Costa Brava.
This Insider’s El Port de la Selva Guide suggests some of the top things to do in El Port de la Selva. Also for days out and what’s nearby, I have a few suggestions for you in the Days Out Section below. It is written by me – I am Jackie, from Dublin, and I have been living in Spain since 2003.
Because of the setting, and also the fact that it’s not too overrun with tourists – the area is perfect for feeling relaxed. It’s a setting that encourages romance, nature, culture, history and the urge to explore the surroundings, or purely the plethora of beaches and coves. This is not one of the Costa Brava’s busiest areas. If you are looking for a lively holiday, then you may prefer to choose from the coastal towns of Blanes, Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar. Do be warned that these can have intense tourist activity during the height of the summer season, especially Lloret de Mar. These beach towns are good spots, however, if you like it lively and you’re looking for sand, sun, water sports and family tourism. Both Blanes and Lloret de Mar are FHDs – Family Holiday Destinations.
In the area there are 15 elements of megalithism, which include the dolmens of Mores Altes (High Blackberries), which are on the road from the village to the famous monastery. Also the paradolmen mentioned below.
This dolmen is chronologically placed in the first half of the 3rd century BC.
Camí del Monestir, El Port de la Selva 17489 , Girona Phone: 972 38 75 59
The monastery is a truly exceptional example of Catalan Romanesque architecture. Based in the complex, it was built between the 10th and 11th centuries, to offer lodgings to pilgrims. The church, which was consecrated in 1022. It’s especially notable because of its immense height, as well is its system of double columns and pillars.
The monastery was built and adapted into the slope of Verdera. What you see today includes buildings from a range of different eras. The center of the complex is the cloisters from the 12th century, and the buildings are built on terraces to fit into the location.
Originally an 11th century building, this Castle Palace was where the Abbots of Sant Pere de Rodes would reside, but it was also used as the location to administer justice. Within the walled town, the Palace was one of the most symbolic buildings. In the early part of the 17th century, it was reduced inside and divided, at the time that the church of St Vincent was built on the same site.
The history of the village and surrounding areas is very much linked with the origins of the spectacular monastery. However as this is very much the subject of speculation and legend, we can’t be sure whether monks arrived in from the sea with the remains of St. Peter or not, but we do know that the construction of the monastery was ordered by Pope Boniface IV. The monastery helped the area grow in importance, because of pilgrimages, which especially happened on the anniversary of Santa Cruz time in May, when it fell on the 3rd May.
From the 17th century onwards however, it was repeatedly plundered by bandits and the French army in 1793. It was abandoned by the Benedictine community, who relocated to Vila-sacra. In 1809 it moved to Figueres, up until the expulsion decree of 1835 which triggered the subsequent confiscation and liquidation of its assets.
It was at the mercy of types of looters. Eventually in 1930, it was declared a National Monument, and the Government of Catalonia began its first restorations in 1935. Then came the civil war of 1936-1939 , and so came further periods of abandonment. Work was resumed after the 1960 law for cultural heritage came in, and in 1993, it was protected as a Cultural Asset of National Interest.
The Old Bridge is knwon of its architecture and medieval origin. In 2008, the access to the Old Bridge was improved, which means that today it is very good. The old bridge is on the old road between La Selva de Mar and the road that goes up by the Costa de l’Oratori.
Some of the best beaches on the Catalan coast can be found in this little corner of the Cap de Creus. Enjoy sandy beaches which have been formed by rocks which have become rounded by the erosive action of the sea and the wind. There’s the most gorgeous crystal clear water, which characterises the coast of Cape Creus, making it a perfect location to practice all types of water activities.
There are 4 beaches within the area, which have lifeguards during the summer season, that you can choose from. These are the beaches of Port de la Vall, Tamariu beach, Port de la Selva beach and the Pas beach. However there are plenty more coves and beaches if you want to explore further. Many of the beaches have rock and stone, and some of these coves and beaches are more difficult to access than others.
Typical of the Costa Brava, you can see the pine trees that kind of grip onto the surrounding areas overlooking the beaches and coves. If you are like many other visitors who just to relax and enjoy the sun, sea, food and drink, you could go to a different beach or cove every day.
The main Port de la Selva beach has blue flag status. It has plenty of amenities around it, as it sits on the front of the village. The beach has fine sand and some pebbles. During the season there’s a lifeguard, plus jet skis, para sailing and boat tours. It’s also a popular spot with wind surfers.
Around 670 metres above sea level, you can find the medieval fortress at the top of Sant Salvador. This is the highest peak in the Sierra of Rhodes, where there’s about 1800m2 closed inside the walls. The castle dates from the 13th century.
This is a single nave church that is thought to be built between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The hermitage is part of a small complex that also includes the church, priest’s house as well as some outbuildings.
Below are just a handful of the routes that you can explore from El Port de la Selva.
The beginning of the trail is located in Cala Tamariua. You can leave your car in the parking area just before the creek and go down the stairs that leads to one of the most beautiful beaches of Cape of Creus. At the end Tamariua, you should take the path that leads to Cativa Bay.
This route runs along the GR-92 in the direction Llançà S’Arenella to the last lighthouse. It’s a very nice trail that goes through various coves and beautiful beaches. It should take about 2 hours, and because its very simple and flat, this route is ideal for families with children. To get a bus back you can check the schedule here: www.sarfa.com.
The main parts of the Way of St. James that have been recuperated here in Catalonia, are seen as very important and part of a larger network of the major Europena cultural routes. So if you like the Way of St. James is considered cultural property and is recognised as a great European itinerary. Of course the main parts of it have been classified as UNESCO World Heritage.