Castelló d’Empúries is a strategic location for those who want to know the region. Located in a central and well communicated place, one can easily explore Roses, Figueres, Perelada, Cadaqués, the Natural Park,… and the ruins of Empúries!
The medieval town is at the midpoint between Figueres and Roses and approximately 4 km from the Gulf of Roses. The river Muga flows south through Castelló into the sea, passing by the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, a protected area noted for its abundant migratory bird population.
Many roads lead to Empúries, and many of these routes pass through flat rural areas, by fields and vineyards or along ponds and beach, or along the Muga and the Aiguamolls. It is worthwhile to discover these, as well as other routes, such as off-road on a bicycle or walking. In its centre Castelló retained its quiet charm and even in tourist season one can still enjoy peace and contemplation. Castelló began to flourish in the 11th century and rose to become an important economic centre. The counts of Empúries made it their residence and 7 monasteries can be found in the area around the town.
The landmark of the small town, visible for afar, is the parish church Santa Maria which is often called the “cathedral of the Empordà” because of its size and gothic influence architecture. The powerful square bell tower comes from an older roman building and the second tower remains unfinished. The building of the church begun in the 14th Century and the façade was begun at the beginning of the 15. Century. It is one of the few gothic churches located in a rural area.
Characteristic is the step portal decorated with plaster figures, the Apostle figures on both sides and the mother of God with child and the holy 3 kings in the Tympanum. The main ship rests on slim columns, which evolve into a strained arched vault. The transept arms are only a little lower than the main nave, so that a large area is encompassed, rounded off by the choir and the Apses with their pointed elbow and slim tracery windows. The splendid flamboyant high altar is a masterpiece of detailed plaster forms. The work, begun in 1485 by Vicenç Borràs, carved from alabaster stone, shows scenes from the life of Jesus. The central figure is the mother of God under a splendorous crowned canopy. The accompanying towers are typical gothic architectural elements and make the viewer to look up toward the sky. We are lucky that recently this splendid altar was reconditioned and cleaned.
In the western side of the cathedral an enormous baroque organ dominates the entrance portal. The organ, begun in the 18th Century by Jean Pierre Cavaillé is in the French style. The organ, with 59 registers, distributed on 4 manuals was partly destroyed during the Spanish civil war. Since 1970 the organ has been renovated, and there is a solicitation in many languages seeking donations to complete the restoration of this masterpiece.
The large medieval celebration, the Terra de Troubadours, is celebrated on 11 September as well as the next weekend. Much is offered during the celebration, including knight plays, minstrel songs, old handicraft arts, doll players, and a medieval feast all add up to an impressive experience.
In the new local part of town, Castelló Nou, a busy flea market is held every Sunday. The “Marina” Empuriabrava, with its canals and waterways is Eldorado to friends of every kind of water sport and is one of the most important tourism centres of the coast. Empuriabrava is located only a few kilometres away and is administered by Castelló d’Empúries.