La Liga Cities: Girona

Not all Catalonia’s footballing activity comes out of Barcelona. The quaint and picturesque city of Girona sits 62 miles north of the Catalan capital and is home to Girona FC. Girona are one of La Liga’s smallest teams and are relative rookies in the top flight of Spanish football but a partnership with one of the sport’s biggest clubs has helped them punch above their weight.

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Location and History

The city itself is situated where four of Catalonia’s major rivers meet. The Onyar, Ter, Galligants and Guell produce some Venice-like settings within the city’s walls. Greenery surrounds Girona’s Estadi Montilivi while the Catalan Pyrenees are not far away. Montilivi is Girona’s second stadium after it replaced Vista Alegre in 1970. The club itself was founded in a café on Girona’s La Rambla street in 1930 and has spent most of its history in the 2nd and 3rd tiers of Spanish football.

The Spanish Civil War halted the majority of footballing activity across the country with Girona taking part in the Catalan and Mediterranean Championships during this period. They finally reached the first division of Spanish football in 2017 under the guidance of current Sevilla boss Pablo Machín and survived their first season at this level last time out. The club is owned by the City Football Group (owners of Manchester City among others) and the Girona Football Group (owned by Pep’s brother Pere Guardiola).

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Vista Alegre hosted Girona’s home games for four decades between 1930 and 1970. It was hit twice by bombs during the Civil War at the end of the 1930s and was barely used during those war-torn years. Girona made the move to their current ground, the Estadi Montilivi, in 1970 when Barcelona opened the stadium in front of 25,000 fans. The capacity nowadays is much lower at 13,450 due to the all-seater system with the record crowd coming in 2018 for the visit of Real Madrid.

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The city still holds many of its medieval features including its Jewish Quarter, Cathedral and Passeig Arqueologic. The Passeig Arquelogic is the name given to the city’s medieval walls that were built in the 9th century. They now provide tourists with great vantage points of the city.

Football isn’t the city’s main sport with Girona being an extremely popular destination for cyclists. Professional riders used to live in the city to take advantage of its challenging routes, including the likes of Tyler Hamilton and Lance Armstrong.

The Girona Cathedral and the city’s old quarter have featured in a number of Hollywood films as well as Game of Thrones due to its resemblance to medieval times and its beauty.

The Temps de Flors festival is held every year and sees floral art and decorations spring up all over the city, especially at the older monuments. The old architecture is also used during the International Festival de Mapping where audiovisual artists come from all over the world to project their work on the historic buildings.

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