Sunday, February 9, 2014

Castel Quermanco ruins hold many stories

The weather has been quite strange this week with a lot of southerly winds bringing warm air. We are so used to tramontana winds from the north, which bring clear skies and a feeling of everything being well scrubbed, a feeling you don't get with winds from the south. These winds can whip the cover off the barbecue and set it sailing into the neighbour's yard, and they wreak havoc with the washing, which ends up all over the ground.

Not to be deterred we did go on a short walk to the Quermanco Castle, situated on top of a remote hill and accessible only by foot. We pass this ruin every time we go to Figueres but we never have time to stop. Wednesday was the day. The view over the surrounding land was quite spectacular. All the rosemary bushes were full of purple blooms, small yellow flowers lined the pathway along with some other wild plants that had a lovely smell.



The castle dates back to 1078. It was owned by Counts in the Empúries region. In 1472, during the Catalonian Civil War, the castle was occupied by forces loyal to John II. In 1808, the castle was captured by Napoleonic troops, occupied for several years, and was even fortified as a keep for armaments. Despite the additional fortifications, an explosion ordered by Marshal Suchet during the French withdrawal in 1814 left the castle in ruins, and it remains in that state today. We were somewhat disappointed that we couldn't go inside the ruin, which lies on private land, but apparently it is locked against vandals.

The surrealist painter Salvador Dalí had a deep affection for the castle and was very familiar with it as it is positioned on the road nearly halfway between his home town of Figueres and his coastal home in Cadaqués. He had several ideas for the castle including creating a natural pipe organ in the castle which would have been 'played' by the tramontana wind that constantly blows in the area. Another was to house a rhinoceros in the basement purely for tourists to come and view, and the other was to acquire the ruins and turn them into a residence for his wife, Gala.

Some work has been done on the castle but basically it is a ruin. Perhaps it would have been better if Dali did buy it. However, it was a lovely walk and now we won't have to wonder what it is like up there every time we pass by.

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