Usually the Costa Brava in Spain conjures up thoughts of sun, sea and sand. But if you head off the beaten track and away from the bustling resort towns you can follow the life and work of one of the area’s most famous residents, Salvador Dalì.
Dalì was born and died in Figueres and it was there that he conceived and developed the spectacular Theatre-Museum as a showcase for his work. But Dalì also spent many years in the seaside village of Portlligat near Cadaqués where he lived with his wife Gala in a row of old fisherman’s cottages. In 1969 he bought a run-down castle in Pùbol as a home for his wife which over the years was renovated and decorated it in his own inimitable style.
The three locations in Cadaqués, Figueres and Pùbol are now open to the public and are often referred to as the ‘Dalì Triangle’. Each offers an exclusive insight into the mad, surreal world of Dalì as well as celebrating the more cultural side of the Costa Brava.
Seaside Home in Portlligat
Just a short walk from the town of Cadaquès brings you to the cluster of small fisherman’s houses which constituted Dalì’s summer home and studio for over 50 years. He moved into one tiny cottage in 1930 and used this as a base to gradually develop and expand the house into the labyrinth of rooms, corridors and studios each with oddly shaped windows overlooking the Portlligat Bay, often featured as the background landscape in his paintings. The property has been left almost exactly as it was when the painter moved out with household objects, furniture and personal items which perfectly reflect Dalì’s creative, surrealist spirit.
Theatre-Museum in Figueres
One of the most visited museums in Spain, the Teatre-Museu Dalì is often called the ‘largest surrealist object in the world’ and the roof with its giant geodesic dome and rows of eggs is instantly recognizable. Dalì spent the last two decades of his life painstakingly planning, designing and creating the museum as a testament to his lifetime’s work and despite his desire to be buried next to his wife in her house in Pùbol, when he died in 1989 his tomb was placed in the crypt of the museum. Highlights include the Mae West Room and the Palace of the Wind though, as to be expected, there is no logical order to the museum and visitors are catapulted into the strange quirky world of Dalì without explanation or justification making it a true voyage into the mind of an artistic genius.
Castle in Pùbol
Situated in the tiny village of Pùbol, located 40km south of Figueres, the Gala-Dalì Castle was bought by the artist for his beloved wife and it was the site of her death and burial in 1982. The house is less extravagant than the museum in Figueres mainly because Dalì spent the years after Gala’s death transforming it into a suitable memorial to her. However the austere medieval mansion still contains evidence of the Dalì style, particularly in the private gardens where sculptures of elephants on stilts lurk among the trees and the fountains have the face of the couple’s favourite composer, Richard Wagner.