Prepare a few Mediterranean whiffs stirred well with a large dose of coloured brick. Accompany the mixture with the aroma of Iberian settlements, remains of the Roman Empire and sprinkle the last touches of the Arab domain. Give the whole lot of Catalan accent. Finally, bathe the mass in the lower course of a river of Girona. A spoonful of Venice, another of Oporto… in the oven and ping!: the Hanging Houses over the river Onyar. A feast of architecture for one's sight in the heart of Girona.
Undoubtedly the most genuine view of this Catalan city hardly one hour from Barcelona. The Hanging Houses lean over the river Onyar, one of the four rivers crossing the city, without anything to envy of Florentine architecture. Their foundations seem to float in the water. For centuries, the inhabitants of Girona raised a line of buildings on the edge of the river, and the same stream has dealt with drawing everything close by into it. The houses have ended up defining the course of the water.
But it seems that this city of culture and history was not satisfied with looking like such an Italian jewel. This must be the reason why the Hanging Houses ended up introducing the artistic beauty of Ribera del Duero (Castilla y León) into the magic of the canals. The facades of the houses over the river Onyar project their colour into the water, walls of tones that give life to the river banks and mark the city’s avant-garde intention.
It was in the 1980s when Girona had the idea of colouring the walls on the riverbank. The colour scheme was put out to the artists Enric Ansesa and Jaume Faixó, and the architects Fuses i Viader carried out the project. A complete recipe that turned the enclave into an exquisite snack. A postcard in stone, colour and water from the bridges connecting the ancient quarter with the trading district.
But the Houses, located in the historical part of the city, are not the only course of this meal. Their colourful silhouettes are accompanied by the purist, most ancient art of the city. The Wall Path (remains of the Carolingian times of the 9th century and part of the lower mediaeval 14th and 15th centuries), the Arab baths, the Rambla de la Libertad [Freedom Avenue], the Plaza de la Independencia [Independence Square], the well-preserved Jewish quarter and the imposing Gothic cathedral with its single nave and world record breadth.
In short, bring an apron when you come to Girona. Here you can feast on culture, history and timeless avant-garde with your eyes; if not, give it a go and find out. The sight of the static shell of the hanging houses of the Onyar river leaves one satiated. The taste of time and aroma of the most exquisite dishes of the old continent.