Much of what there is to see and do in the Costa Dorado and Catalonia has been written about many times before, but we think we have found three places to visit that have so far received little attention.
The fascinating ruins of Empúries, one of Catalonia's most important archaeological sites, overlook the Mediterranean sea against a backdrop of green pines. Among the knee-high walls are the remains of a Greco-Roman coastal town that was founded between the seventh and third centuries BC .
Greek traders first landed on a nearby island, now joined to the mainland and home to the village of Sant Marti d'Empúries. They soon formed an inland colony, then known as Emporian, which was seized by the Romans in the third century BC . The conquerors renamed the town Emporiae, and proceeded to build fine mansions with impressive mosaics, an amphitheatre and a marketplace. Take the time to walk down to the shoreline, where you can still make out the remains of the Greek breakwater that was built to protect the port.
A distinctive white-sand beach sweeping around an bay is what brings most visitors to Roses, and a stroll along the Passeig Marítim promenade is the best way to enjoy the scene. Apartments and hotels line the waterfront of this ancient town, which was first inhabited by trading Greeks 3,000 years ago.
Apart from the ruined citadel, which contains remains of the original settlement of Rhode, the Castell de La Trinitat (above the lighthouse) and a megalithic park with three standing stones are the only scant reminders of this historic past.
The building is now owned by one of Catalonia's major banking institutions, and most of the apartments are in private hands, but three parts are open to the public. The museum, the Espai Gaudí, is in the fabulous attic, a serene labyrinth of red-brick parabolic arches. An apartment with a re-created early 20th-century interior and a wonderfully organic shape is the setting for some fabulous period pieces. But the building's tour de force is its roof, whose undulating lines mirror the arches of the attic below. The centurion-like chimney-stacks, composed of trencadís (broken ceramics) and smooth concrete, are now a symbol of the city.
During July, August and September, jazz and flamenco performances are held at La Pedrera. The entrance fee usually includes a glass of cava, and Gaudí's masterpiece makes an awesome setting under the stars.
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