Dali Day

Spanish art is as unique and varied as the country itself. Within the last few days we’ve seen the monumental works of Gaudi, who built a temple to God, and the idiosyncratic surrealism of Salvador Dali, who built a temple to himself.

Portrait of Dali by Sebastian Cestero, one of a handful of works in the museum not executed by Dali himself.

We added Girona to our itinerary largely because a former colleague now lives nearby, and it sounded idyllic. As I did my research, I learned that Dali is from the area, and there are two iconic places to visit to take in his work.

The first is the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres, where he grew up. How often does an artist get to create a museum dedicated to himself? This place is everything you think of when you think of Dali, and more.

The courtyard inside of the Dali museum.
Dali liked to play visual games – as in this painting that appears to be of Abraham Lincoln, or not, depending on the viewer’s perspective.

We took a tour with Girona Experience because timing entry to both museums is tricky, plus we wanted to avoid renting a car for just a day. We were lucky enough to have a young art history student as our guide. There is so much going on in every Dali work it helped to have an expert provide some background. Our two hours in the Museum flew by.

The exterior of the museum.

After the Museum, we headed to Cadaques, the seaside town where Dali spent much time as a child, and where he built a home nearby in Portillat for himself and his wife Gala.

Cadaques is popular with European visitors. And a few of us Americans.

Cadaques is worth a visit in itself for the twisting, turning drive through striking mountains that lead to a beautiful seaside town. The whitewashed buildings and Cuban music playing throughout the town are a reflection of the culture brought back by local Spaniards who went to Cuba when it was still a Spanish territory.

Behind us is a view that can be seen in one of Dali’s paintings, minus the sunbathers.

We stopped for a brief lunch of seafood and, of course, wine, before the short drive to Portillat.

Dali’s former beach house in Portillat.

Dali’s home also does not disappoint. It’s full of the surrealistic touches that you would expect, but also the trappings of a real home. He lived here with Gala until she died, when he moved into his Museum.

Dali’s bedroom in Portillat.. Below was his room in the museum in Figueres.

The tour of his home can only be provided by official guides, which makes sense because the rooms are quite small and movement is strictly regulated. That wasn’t true of the Museum, which was probably the most crowded space we’ve been in on the entire trip. Although it requires timed tickets, it seems that people congregate in certain areas making for uncomfortably tight spaces. For that reason, we skipped a couple of exhibits. Even with that, both places are well worth a visit for anyone interested in Dali.

His studio in Portillat.
Part of the famous pool at Portillat
The sofa faces the Michelin man above

As I write this, we’re wrapping up our trip with one day left in Girona before heading back to the U.S. We are sorely tempted to add on a few days to stay at the coast, but we have obligations back home. We’ll make ourselves feel less sad by thinking about returning to the area.

A view from Dali’s beach home. The man knew how to live.

One comment

  1. you took my comment away from me –I was going to write that Dali knew how to live
    I love every bit of this Dali tour


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