Sitges, Costa Brava

Sitges is a lovely town 35 Km South of Barcelona. Located on top of a hill, between two beaches, this seaside Spanish resort became a bohemian hang-out over a century ago. More recently, this town has been attracting the Barcelona jet set, local Spanish families and it's also now known as one of the most popular European destinations for gay holidaymakers.

The first references to Sitges dates from the 10th century. In 990 a place called the “Sitges” (the Silos) was mentioned. It got its name from the many silos (these were caves dug into the ground and used to preserve food) that were discovered in between the ruins of the old Iberian and Roman settlements. A castle was built here and a village grew around this castle. In the first half of the XI century, the castles of Sitges, Miralpeix and Campdàsens, were mentioned in documents. Each castle had its own feudal Lord in residence. However, during the XIV and XV centuries, the Pia Almonia of the See of Barcelona obtained the dominion of these castles and land, which, nowadays, constitute the municipal area of Sitges.

At that time Sitges was the only village near the sea between Barcelona and Tarragona. The village had walls for protection. Its inhabitants cultivated vines and plied trade by sea around the Mediterranean. They imported from the Greek island of Monembàsia grape called malvasia, which later made Sitges famous.

Towards the end of the XVI century, Sitges began to increase cultivation of the malvasia. But its merchant fleet still provided employment for half of the population.

In the XVIII century Sitges began to trade with America. Forests were cut down to create more vineyards. As a result, the village increased its population. Some Sitgetan people emigrated to America and a few came back and built luxurious houses with the wealth they had accrued.

The XIX century saw the arrival of industrialization with textile factories and shoe factories. And by the end of the XIX century, Sitges attracted painters of the Light School because of the particular light on its beautiful landscape. The Catalan painter and writer Santiago Rusiñol took up residence in Sitges, in the Cau Ferrat. The town became the leader of Catalan painting Modernisme and a major meeting point for artists and art makers. The American collector Charles Deering, built the Maricel where he would store his art and antiques collections.

This made the town popular and a wave of construction of summer residences began. Many tourists started to come, searching for the sun, the beaches and a pleasant atmosphere.

Today 17 beaches that stretch along four kilometers offer Blue Flag beaches to tourists. And cultural events continue with : Sitges International Film Festival, Sitges International Theatre Festival, Sitges International Jazz Festival and the Sitges International Tango Festival. Outside the town topped the natural park of Garraf (over 10,000 hectares)

 

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