You have probably seen the classic view of Lloret de Mar, with its beautiful sandy beach and line of gleaming modern hotels. I had assumed the rest of the town would be much the same, filled with anonymous concrete. But what a surprise when I stepped back from the sea front and found myself in a different world. A world of splendid modernist architecture and an old town whose narrow streets recall a different era. I set out to discover the varied and unexpected buildings of Lloret de Mar.
Open Museum Of Lloret
Many of the most important buildings of Lloret de Mar are included in the Open Museum of Lloret (MOLL). This is not a museum in the conventional sense but an innovative way of bringing the visitor’s attention to the wealth of historic buildings in and around the town. Within Lloret MOLL includes the remains of early Iberian settlements, historic houses and several Modernist buildings. Further afield are a number of old chapels and hermitages, and the Rensaissance-inspired Santa Clotilde Gardens close to Fenals Beach.
Some of MOLL’s buildings are museums in their own right. Can Garriga incorporates the Tourist Information Office and the Maritime Musuem, and Es Tint, now the headquarters of the local Fishermen’s Guild, has a small display of fishing history. Then there is Can Saragossa, home of the Archeology Museum. This was once a farmhouse, but was later updated to become an impressive private residence and then a hotel. As you walk around the museum note the features of this once grand house, including the tiles, the fireplace and the stairway.
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The Modernist Buildings Of Lloret De Mar
Most of the modernist buildings of Lloret de Mar are the legacy of the indianos. These were men who went to the New World (mostly Cuba) and returned to Spain to spend their newly created wealth. Start your discovery of the indiano buildings at the Can Garriga, a three storyed colonial style building. From here you can walk along the Passeig Verdaguer, a sandy promenade fringed with palm trees, and towards the neoclassical Town Hall.
Around the corner from the Town Hall you catch your first sight of the Church of Sant Roma. Prepare for the unexpected: this unassuming 16th century Gothic church is flanked on either side by 20th century modernist additions, creating a confection of domes, turrets and sumptous tilework.
And don’t forget to visit the Modernist Cemetery, a place where sculptors gave free rein to their imagination, creating ornate memorials to the great indiano families.
Lloret De Mar Old Town
When you have finished exploring the buildings of the MOLL, take some time to stroll through the old town. There are no grand buildings here, but the narrow streets on either side of the Carrer de la Vila, parallel to the sea front, are full of old houses, a reminder that people have been living and working here for hundreds of years.
Look for the details on the houses, the tiled pictures and the occasional shrine. Even the names of the streets, like Carrer dels Pescadors (fishermen), indicate a long history. One particular road – the Carrer de les Vidues i Donzelles (widows and maidens) – carries an interesting historical association. Traditionally this street was home to many young widows who resisted remarriage so that they did not have to forfeit the wealth inherited from their husbands!
D’En Plaja Castle
Finally, you may be wondering why I have made no mention of the building that seems to appear on every picture of Lloret de Mar – the D’En Plaja Castle, or Beach Castle. The simple reason is that the castle, a neo-Gothic house built in 1935, is privately owned and not open to visitors. But, disappointing as this may be, Lloret’s real architectural heritage is not along the seafront with its modern hotels and fake castle; it is waiting to be discovered in the town beyond.
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