Works by some of the greatest artists of the early 20th century, such as Picasso and Chagall, captured the light, architectural geometry and bohemian atmosphere of Cadaqués, a town on the easternmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, which was the summer residence of surrealist masters such as Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp.
With its white houses contrasting with the deep blue of the sea, this fishing village in the province of Girona is one of the Mediterranean’s most distinctive places, an exclusive destination for tourists, mainly French and Americans, who come lured by the microcosm offered by its location at Cape Creus.
Cadaqués is the ideal place to start a tour of the Alt Empordà, famous for its natural scenery, beaches and gastronomy, and to make the pilgrimage to the personal universe of the painter Salvador Dalí, who for over 40 years had his house and workshop in Bay Portlligat.
The house-museum of Portlligat is located less than 25 miles from Figueres, the birthplace of the artist, where you can also visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum, considered the largest surrealistic object in the world. At a similar distance is Púbol Castle, the Gothic-Renaissance fort the artist bought for Gala, his wife and muse, and where he remained secluded after her death in 1980.
Beyond the artistic side, the village has an old town full of small fishing shops, bars and charming restaurants around the Gothic church of Santa Maria with its famous Baroque altarpiece. And on the waterfront, visitors can enjoy vermouth by the seaside and discover legendary places as the Melito bar, where Duchamp and the photographer Man Ray played chess, as recall the photographs still preserved inside.
Cadaqués is also rich in anecdotes. It was the location of the 1971 film The Lighthouse at the End of the World, an adaptation of Jules Verne eponymous novel starring Kirk Douglas and Yul Brynner. The movie was staged in the rugged rocks of Cape Creus Natural Park, unique in the world for the erosion caused by the Tramontana wind.
Today, Cadaqués remains a preferred tourist destination among the many spots in the Costa Brava. Respect for the natural environment, the picturesque architecture and the peaceful lifestyle help preserve the magic that attracted so many artists in the last century. It also has a marina, boutique hotels and easy access to other towns such as Roses, famous as the home of El Bulli restaurant and other temples of Catalan cuisine. ■