Salvador Dalí was born in Catalonia and the province boasts three major attractions that celebrate the painter’s life and art. The most famous of them is Dalí Theater and Museum in Figueres – day-trippers from Barcelona make it a very popular and slightly overcrowded destination. We visited it once in 2009. The second of the three, Dalí House in Portlligat, keeps falling out of our itineraries – it is over an hour drive from our usual base on Costa Brava and we have not yet been able to work out how to combine it with other points of interest. Conversely, the third site is only about twenty minutes away from L’Estartit. There, in the small Catalan village of Pubol, sits Castell Gala-Dalí, the 11th-century castle that the artist bought for his wife in 1968.
The once dilapidated castle was renovated and decorated with direct involvement of Dalí himself. The castle is not a place to find a significant collection of Dalí’s art but every room, every piece of furniture, and many of the accessories have his influence written all over them. The styles are blended and the whimsical coexists with the homely. Here is a small sampler.
The cozy garden of the castle is home to Dalí’s unmistakable elephants.
You can linger by the pond or enjoy a couple of classical statues around the garden.
There are also a couple of cars parked on the premises that I presume belonged to the painter.
At the edge of the garden is an open-air terrace with nice views over the countryside.
Beyond the main attraction, Pubol is a tiny Catalan village that always feels deserted save for the tourists visiting the castle. The views in and around are atmospheric enough.
Dalí, of course, is present one way or another in every establishment in the village. In this particular case, as a souvenir shop greeter.
This was our second visit to Castell Gala-Dalí after some eight years, and I feel I got a better appreciation of it than on my first trip. It could have been a function of a smaller number of people to share the space with – come in late afternoon for smallest crowds – but what I once had as a “just ok” sight now boasts a “recommended” mark in my book. Under two hours should be sufficient for a visit.