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A day trip close to the French border

About 40 minutes to the north, close to the French border, you'll find a load of things to do on a day trip away from Cal Domino. Firstly, close to the town of Figueres there is the fortress of Sant Fernando (San Ferran in Catalan), Europe's best preserved Napoleonic Fort.

Underground stables in the Napoleonic fortress Sant Ferran
The stables at San Ferran

The first stone for the castle was placed on December 13, 1753 and the name of San Fernando was given in honor of King Ferdinand VI of Spain. It has had a long and useful career as a major military fortifiction and was still in use as recently as 1997. The scale of the place is mind-boggling. It could house 6000 troops, their families and horses. The castle itself occupies an area of 320,000 m2 within a perimeter of 3120m, and there are two cisterns located under the central parade ground which are able to hold up to 10 million liters of water.

A classic Napoleonic era design
Aerial view of the Fort

It's well worth calling ahead (they speak English) to book a tour of the cisterns. In today's compensation culture there is a refereshing, although at the same time, slightly worrying lack of health and safety regulations in operation. They do give you hard-hats just in case you fall in the water and bang your head when you sink to the bottom of the cistern, but don't expect life jackets, harnesses or age / ability / mobility restrictions. There are a number of ladders to climb, confined spaces to crawl through and getting in and out of the boat requires a minimum level of dexterity to do so successfully whilst remaining dry. It is quite an adventure though and highly recommended...

Recently, the film "Perfume" with Dustin Hoffman, Ben Wishaw, Alan Rickman and John Hurt (to name a few) was partly made here. There are regular re-enactments and the castle is regularly used as location sets for period dramas.

San Ferran fortress near Figueres
The Fort from the air

Close to Figueres on the coast, you'll find the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. There is also the ruined castle of Sant Salvadore de Verdera at the top of the Sierra de Roda Massif which offers spectacular panoramic views over the monastery, the coastline, the Cap de Creus National Park and the little seaside village of El Port de la Selva.

The monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes on the Costa Brava
Sant Pere de Rodes

Next to the Monastery you'll find the little ruined church of Santa Helena with some truly magnificent views over the coastline.

The church of Santa Helena next to the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes
Santa Helena

Close by, you'll find the whitewashed seaside village of Cadaques where we recommend stopping off for dinner on the way back. This isn't a good idea in the middle of Summer though. It's a tiny village and parking is very limited. Close by, if you are a Salvadore Dali fan, you can find his old house (now a museum) in port Lligat. Again, best to avoid July and August as it gets very busy.

The little whitewashed village of Cadaques in Catalunya

If you manage to do all of this in a day, I'll be impressed !

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