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What to do? CULTURAL VISITS

CULTURAL VISITS

Brief history of Lloret de Mar

The history of Lloret de Mar is undeniably linked to the idea of hospitality and the open-minded, welcoming nature of the townspeople. Back in ancient times, in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, the Iberians living in the settlements of Montbarbat and Puig de Castellet had already established commercial relations and contact with other cultures and were thereby able to obtain tools and pottery from Greece and Rome. Later on, the Romans themselves settled in what is now Lloret and, through the trading post on Fenals beach, established commerce along the coast with neighbouring settlements such as Empúries and Barcelona. Today numerous remains still bear witness to this remote period of history: the Iberian settlements of Puig de Castellet, Montbarbat, Turó Rodó and Coll de Llop, and the Roman sepulchral tower.

The name Lloret, spelled LOREDO, appeared in written form for the first time in 966 AD. Different studies attribute the origins of this name to the Latin LAURETUM, meaning place of laurels. Shortly after, in the year 1001, Count Ramon Borrell and Countess Ermessenda of Barcelona traced the municipal boundaries of Lloret de Mar (formerly part of MAÇANEDO district) and granted the town to Sunifred, Viscount of Girona. During this period, two singular constructions were built: Sant Joan Castle (on top of the hill between the beaches of Lloret and Fenals), used as a watchtower and refuge; and the primitive church of Sant Romà (now known as Nostra Senyora de les Alegries), which still retains its characteristic Romanesque features, despite extensive renovations. At that time, the village was a scattering of farmhouses mainly situated inland from the shore, which explains why the original parish church in Lloret is so far from the present-day town centre.

Gradually, however, some families began to settle close to the sea, doubtlessly availing of the protection afforded by Sant Joan Castle, which provided refuge in the face of possible attack from pirates, or from the Turks, the French or the English. The shoreline settlers traded in goods from the hinterland (firewood, wood, charcoal, etc.) and made their living as fishermen and, increasingly, as traders up and down the coast. At that time it seems that links were forged with some Italian coastal towns, leaving a lasting impact on our culture, our traditions and even surnames.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, a new parish church was built in the town centre, which by now had become firmly established on the coast. Work was completed in 1522 and the total cost came to some 3,000 pounds. The new church was built in the prevailing Catalan Gothic style and was also used as a refuge for the faithful during pirate attacks. The bell tower was fortified with battlements and loopholes, and the drawbridge gate opened onto a deep moat.

Around the middle of the eighteenth century, mariners from Lloret began sailing to Central and South America on missions of various degrees of legality. In 1778, however, King Charles III promulgated the Decree of Free Trade between Spain and its American colonies, thereby creating a boom for the shipyards of Lloret, where 130 ships were built between 1812 and 1869, and strengthening and consolidating the local merchant navy. As a result, an import and export trade developed in the area, enriching many members of the local population. Ships sailed for Santiago de Cuba, Havana, Montevideo and Buenos Aires laden with wine, oil, textiles, salt, flour and other local goods, and returned to Catalonia bearing cargoes of cotton, hardwoods, hides, sugar, tobacco, coffee, rum, dried beef, and many colonial products.

Many people from Lloret took an active part in the trading and invested money in shipbuilding and the purchase of trading goods. The sea captains of the time were not merely transporters of goods but also speculators with a vested interest in the cargoes stowed away in the holds of their ships.

The transoceanic trade of the nineteenth century also opened up new possibilities for personal enrichment in Central and South America. Many an adventurer took advantage of the sailing facilities of that time to seek their fortune working hard in the New World. If things went well and fortunes were made, these "Americano" or "Indiano" emigrants sooner or later returned triumphal to their native town, pockets bulging with vast amounts of money. They were greeted on arrival by the local brass band. A pattern soon emerged. After marriage to a young local girl, the enriched emigrants demolished the former family dwelling and built a magnificent neoclassical, eclectic or Modernist mansion in its place. The next step was to order a mausoleum in the new cemetery and after that they devoted the remainder of their lives to performing charitable works. Before long, Lloret became home to large numbers of rich, young widows inhabiting a town of elegant streets and squares, a sumptuous Modernist cemetery with funerary art by leading sculptors and architects of the day (Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Antoni Gallissà i Soqué, Bonaventura Conill i Montobbio, among others) and a number of outstanding public buildings such as the Town Hall, the church refurbished in the Modernist style, the parish schools, and so on.

Between 1880 and 1920, the physical layout of Lloret de Mar underwent radical change. However, the "Americano" emigrant phenomenon began to decline after the 1920s and the town entered a long period of economic stagnation of about thirty years.

The 1930s attempts to develop tourism were curtailed by the Spanish Civil War and Lloret did not become established as a holiday resort until the 1950s, when the town was transformed in order to meet the needs of the new tourist economy and way of life. Many of the old mansions were pulled down and turned into hotels and service facilities; new suburbs and housing estates were built on former vineyards, woods and fields.

Tourist development has endowed Lloret with a wide range of hotels and shops, excellent sports facilities, with athletics tracks, sports pavilions and football pitches and so on, as well as numerous leisure centres.

The hermitage of Lloret de Mar

 

Parochial Church of Sant Romà

 

The Church of Sant Romà was built in 1522 and, in keeping with the architecture of the age, is in Catalan Gothic-style. This church replaced the earlier Church of Sant Romà - now called the Church of les Alegries - as Lloret's town centre moved from the hinterland to the coast.

In those days, the coast was threatened by constant attack from Turkish and Algerian pirates, who killed, burned, kidnapped, ransacked... This is why it was decided that the new parish church also had to act as a refuge for the faithful during pirate raids. The bell tower was filled with merlons and loopholes, and the gate - which in fact was a drawbridge - led into a very deep ditch.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Lloret's wealth, especially with the return of the "Americanos", allowed for large-scale reforms to be made to the parish church. On the Gothic base, the architect, Bonaventura Conill i Montobbio, applied the prevailing Modernist designs and created a spectacular building with Byzantine, Muslim and Renaissance traces. The restoration work began in 1914.

The Civil War in 1936, however, led to the destruction of nearly all the Modernist design and today only the Capella del Santíssim (or sacristy) remains as a clear indication of what the renovation of the parish church was like. mix of modernism and gothic art. It is somewhere you have to be!

 

Sant Joan Castle

 

The castle is situated at the top of the hill which separates the beaches of Lloret de Mar and Fenals and dates back to the beginning of the 11th century, possibly from the age of Lady Sicardis and her sons, the Lords of Lloret (1041-1110), when it controlled the feudal territory of Lloret. The chapel was consecrated in 1079, although the only remains of the original construction are the foundations of the keep, the eastern wall, some remnants on the southern side and several silos excavated in the rock but currently covered. In the 12th century, the domain of the castle was shared between the Episcopal See of Girona and the Lords of Palafolls, before coming under complete control of the See of Girona in 1218.

It was damaged by the Genovese fleet in 1356 and possibly again in the earthquakes of 1427 - 1428, but was rebuilt on each occasion. Extensive rebuilding work was carried out between the 15th and 16th centuries, giving it the appearance it has today, with two wings of rooms to the north and east, connecting to the exterior wall and opening onto an interior courtyard. Up until the end of the 17th century the castle was still fully operational, as proven by the archaeological finds discovered on the site. During these times the castle was used mainly as a lookout tower to prevent any possible attacks from the sea.

In 1805, during England's war on Spain and France, a British warship shot several cannons at the castle which seriously damaged part of the tower and the exterior wall. Finally, two violent storms, one in 1840 and the other in 1923, completely demolished parts of the wall and the old castle tower.Separes the beaches of Lloret and Fenals.

 

Town Hall

 

 

This buildind of neo-classical style. Constructed according to the plans drawn up by Félix de Azúa, between 1868 and 1872.

In 1867 it was agreed that the Torre de la Vila tower should be demolished. The walls of the old d'En Pau Rei mill were also at risk of ruin and were torn down. With the demolition of the Tower the city was left without a town hall. The authorisation to demolish the Tower was granted by the civil governor in July 1867, and by September the projects and budgets for the new town hall had already been prepared and the bidding conditions for the work were approved by the city council.

The placement of the Community Hall some thirty metres closer to the sea than the old fort and the subsequent alignment of the future esplanades with the new factory, a series of plots of land pertaining to the City Hall appeared. The Casa de la Vila or town hall, one of the most modest in Catalonia, was solemnly inaugurated in February 1872 and attended by the Province's highest authorities. A telegraph was inaugurated in 1884 and the City Hall's clock was installed the same year. Construction of the bell tower, named "bona nit", was awarded to the blacksmith Pere Tarrats, by design of Agustí Font Vilarrubí. 

 

Sta Clotilde Gardens

 

 

This wonderful garden was landscaped in a setting of great beauty on top of a cliff with breath-taking views over the sea, and it is a fine specimen of the spirit that animated the Noucentista movement in Catalonia - an early twentieth-century movement for intellectual and aesthetic renewal that found a distinguished spokesman in the writer Eugeni d'Ors.

The Santa Clotilde gardens were designed in the manner of the dainty yet austere gardens of the Italian Renaissance by Nicolau Rubió i Tuduri at the age of twenty-eight, when he was still brimming over with admiration for his master in the art of landscape gardening, Forestier. In these gardens, Rubió ignored Forestier's teachings with their Spanish-Arabic slant mixed up with images of the French garden, as he had seen when working with Forestier on the Montjuïc gardens, and instead sought to recover the spirit of the Italian Renaissance as the essence of modernity. A new bourgeoisie was then emerging, looking back nostalgically on the prestige enjoyed by patrons of the arts during the Renaissance.

 

Poblado ibérico (Ruins of the iberic village)

 

This settlement was occupied over a well-defined period, 250-210 B.C. The settlement, which was probably an outpost of a larger centre (possibly Montbarbat, which is further inland), is situated on the north-west side of the hill, commanding a view over the entire coastline yet wholly invisible from the sea.

Hence its functions: surveillance, and territorial control, it did perhaps house a group of warriors and their families. The site's layout is somewhere between a rectangle and a pentangle, the longest side measuring 30 metres. It is almost entirely enclosed by a wall. Inside there are 11 rectangular areas, each with one, two or three rooms. Each dwelling has a living area and a working area. These areas generally backed onto the wall, in order to make the best use of the space available and to make the most of the light and warmth of the sun. In the middle, there is an open space for community use.

Various facilities have been discovered in the central, square amongst which are excavated in the rock used to collect rainwater or to filter the water that naturally rose from the groundwater table. There were also pits for throwing out waste and collecting sewage. The ovens also stand out from amongst the facilities, used for baking bread, pottery or bricks that they used for the house walls.

 


Lloret de Mar

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