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A tour to Sitges with its fisherman’s houses on the mediterranean sea is often a welcome respite on a tour of Spain. Sitges old town is a charming seaside town just 35 km from Barcelona. Sitges, with its pristine beaches, array of art galleries and vibrant bars and clubs, Sitges has something for everyone. Sometimes referred to as the St. Tropez of Spain, the town’s pretty beaches and seafront promenade are framed by lush green mountains and despite its proximity to the big city (it takes around 40 minutes to get to Sitges from Barcelona), its serene shores can make you feel very far away from the hustle and bustle.
The History of Sitges
The area around Sitges is thought to have been inhabited since the Neolithic era and there is evidence of an Iberian settlement living there from the 4th century. Roman ruins are to be visited during a guided tour to Sitge. During the Roman era, Sitges, being close to the coast, was an important port, trading products with other towns and cities along the Roman network around the Mediterranean sea.
In the Middle Ages, a castle was built in Sitges, on the site where the town hall stands today. The castle was owned by the bishopric of Barcelona but later ceded to Count Mir Geribert, a Catalan nobleman.
During the Franco-Spain War in the 17th century, Sitges’ buildings were bombarded and looted, leaving behind extensive damage. A few years later, the town was ravaged by pirate attacks and the War of Spanish Succession.
Until the 1960s, Sitges economy was mostly based on the production of wine, fishing and agriculture. The 19th century saw a period of great prosperity as trading routes opened up with America. Many Sitgetans tended to leave the town, make their fortune elsewhere and then return and settle in Sitges, building impressive beachside mansions. After the economic boom of the 1960s, Sitges became more of a tourist resort and today it is a much-loved holiday destination that hosts festivals, creative events and a worldwide renowned Carnival.
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What to See in Sitges
Many people visit Sitges on a day tour from Barcelona but others end up staying for a few days, enchanted by the lovely beaches and restaurants.
Towards the beginning of the 20th century, Sitges began to be seen as something as a hippy enclave, attracting all kinds of creatives including authors, artists and intellectuals. This can be felt today in many of the museums around the coastal town. The Museu del Cau Ferrat is a house-studio built by Catalan artist Santiago Rusiñol, pioneer of the Modernism movement, in the 1890s. Today it is full of art, including his private collection, and overlooks the sea.
The town’s most dramatic landmark is the Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla, a 17th-century parish church. Built right on the Mediterranean sea, almost jutting into the water, the Baroque-style church adds to the splendour of Sitges.
After a walk to the church and a relaxing stroll along the beautiful promenade, its probably about time for lunch. The cafes and restaurants of Sitges are also worth visiting, from tapas bars, to seafood restaurants and upmarket spots, there are plenty of places to sample some Catalan fare. Local specialties include xató, an endive salad with cod, tuna, anchovies and olives dressed with a sauce of scalded chillies, toasted almonds, garlic, olive oil, and salt.
Whether you love to fiesta, relaxing on the beach and swimming in the sea, admiring modernist art or checking out an international film festival, there will be something for you to explore in colourful Sitges. If it sounds like your cup of tea, consider our Barcelona City Explored tour, which visits Sitges.
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