A stroll through the streets and alleyways of the Baix Empordà town of Pals takes the visitor straight back to mediaeval times. The following proposed itinerary includes information panels placed at key sites along the route.
We begin at Ca la Pruna on Carrer de la Creu, a restored 16th century fortified house that is now a cultural centre that features exhibitions and a display of tools and utensils from the past.
Along the same street we reach the main square, the Plaça Major, where we can see the Gothic arch that allows entry to the walled part of the town. This is also where the Town Hall and the Tourist Office are located.
Through the arch and up Carrer Major brings us to mediaeval tombs carved into the rock that date from the Visigoth period (5th to 8th centuries). Continuing up the street to a crossroads, some steps on the right lead to the Torre de les Hores, a magnificent 15-metre high Romanesque circular tower from the 11th and 12th centuries built on a natural pedestal of solid rock. It is known as Torre de les Hores (Tower of the Hours) because a Gothic bell tower was added to it in the 15th century.
We continue until we come to the church of Sant Pere. The 10th century building was left in ruins at the end of the Catalan Civil War in the late 15th century and repaired with stone taken from Pals former castle. Only the castle’s Homage Tower was left standing, and two bridges that linked different parts of the fortress.
A tribute to Josep Pla
Descending the steps of the Plaça de l’Església, we come to the tower of Ramonet. After crossing the square, we go down the steps to leave the walled part of town and walk alongside the wall until we come to the Pedró, or Josep Pla viewpoint, named in honour of the famous Catalan writer from Palafrugell. The viewpoint provides a great view of Canigó mountain, the local rice fields, the Montgrí massif and even the Medes Islands.
Descending the stairs of the Dr. Pi i Figueras walk on the eastern side of the wall brings us to the old hospital. From here we can follow Carrer Hospital back to Plaça Major and from there to Carrer de la Creu and so return to the starting point of our tour.
The Pals rice train
Xiulet de Pals is a train that does tourist itineraries, including the Rice Route. The train leaves its stop in the old town and crosses the surrounding fields that are typical of the Empordà region to reach the mill. Here visitors can learn about the history of the building and the process of bleaching rice. There is also a shop and visitors can taste a beer made with rice. The train returns to Pals across the local rice paddy fields.