Flying from Girona airport with a few hours to kill? Empúries, (coming from the Greek “Emporion” meaning market place or shopping centre) lies midway between the Costa Brava town of L’Escala and the tiny village of Sant Martí.
Archeology fans will be in ruins heaven at the site of the Greek Paleopolis at Sant Marti d’Empuries, the most important archaeological site in Spain.
The old market, the agora, the holy area where the temples stood, altars, the statue of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine, presiding over a temple, looking out to sea, surrounded by beaches and coves with spectacular views out to the Mediterranean.
Founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC, and later occupied by the Romans, this was a prosperous part of the Costa Brava, with busy commerce until it was abandoned in the 3rd century AD and disappeared beneath the dunes.
This unique archaeological park was hidden for centuries until, in 1908, the excavations began. They continue to this day.
Many of the most valuable pieces found at the dig are now kept in Barcelona and Girona but reproductions stand in their place.
A Christian basilica and Visigoth sarcophagi can be found in the harbour area. Of the Roman town, the southern wall, amphitheatre and arena are preserved as well as the ruins of a Roman villa.
Priceless mosaics, marble and paintings, the drainage systems, layout of houses and constructions such as the Forum, an old factory, and the Basilica will give you an idea of what life was like way back at that time.
The Greek wharf, along the shore, also has to be seen along with the Archaeology Museum, with important pieces, ceramics, utensils and sculptures from the time.
Visitors to our forum on www.anglophone-direct.com tell you a little more about it, based on their personal experience.
☛ We visited the site at Empuries on the way back from Girona airport and would recommend it to anyone. The setting is dramatic with its entire sweep of the bay of Roses through to l’Escala. There are two distinct settlements; the Greek town closer to the coast and the Roman town above it (look out for the keystone with the carved phallus, always good for a cheap laugh). A fascinating insight into the history of the area and its richness and desirability to foreigners even then
☛ There is a museum included in the entry price (about six euros I think), not large or impressive, as the site speaks for itself. There is ample parking, a little cafe and good loos…
☛ We particularly liked the fact that the site is still being excavated and we saw archaeologists in action. Fascinating.
☛ St Marti d’Empuries is five minutes away and worth a stop, particularly later in the day when the crowds dissipate.
☛ Interestingly, part of the Greek harbour wall has survived for 2000+ years and is still visible in the sea.
☛ Well worth a stop. Like a sort of mini Pompeii. We’ve been a couple of times on the way to L’Escala (another place that’s good to visit). The beach between Empuries and the town is excellent too.
☛ Shhhhh! Don’t tell everybody!