A small seaside town near Barcelona offers a sunny holiday and much history and art
Sitges is a coastal town, 40 kms from Barcelona. It is tucked between the sea and the mountains of the Garraf Massif, the main consequence being a very benign climate with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. Sitges has been described as Spain’s St Tropez or as the Cannes of Catalonia, not only because of its climate but also because it has become known worldwide as a consequence of the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival.
One of Sitges’ most fashionable areas is the old town, which features Iberian archaeological remains, Roman and medieval art as well as modernist art and buildings. In the 1900s, Sitges became the home of the so called ‘Indianos’, emigrants who returned to Spain from Cuba having accumulated great wealth. They built sumptuous mansions along the sea promenade, which are still private residences today. The Church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla is one of the most recognisable places in the town. Rather less pious, but as well known, is the
Bacardi house, now a museum, the famous rum distillery owned by a Sitges native. Downtown you will also find the wonderful Cau Ferrat Museum founded in 1893 by the artist Santiago Rusiñol, where he established his house-workshop. Indeed art is almost synonymous with Sitges partly because it became the home of the American industrialist, philanthropist and collector Charles Deering. Deering dreamed of having a museum in Spain which would be a a beacon for artists from across the world, and in 1910 he had the Palau Maricel built with the help of the artist Miquel Utrillo. The building was connected by a bridge across the lane to a second building he purchased, which now houses the Museu Maricel. Although Deering did not manage to execute much of his plan, and many of his paintings ultimately ended up in Chicago, his legacy does live on and Sitges now commands a fearsome reputation for its art and many artists do exhibit in the town. The Stämpfli Foundation is currently presenting the fourth exhibition of its permanent collection of 90 works from more than 60 international artists.
(from above left) The Santa Tecla Church at dusk; The mermaid by the break waters at dawn; The Medieval old town; the sea lit by the sun; the Palau Maricel; (next page) view of the old town and the San Sebastian beach from the Aiguadolç Port.