The Old Quarter of Banyoles is full of nooks and crannies that remind us of its medieval past, squares, streets, churches... Standing out amongst all the rest is the Plaça Major (Main Square), a porticoed square built at the end of the 13th century. The stone arches and porticoes immediately identify this square, which is the centre of Banyoles’ social life.
The Pia Almoina, which houses the Archaeological Museum, is a former Gothic “palace” or mansion. Its inner courtyard includes a well and a gallery of pointed arches. In 1250, it was made the seat of the town’s Council. From the early 14th century to the 19th century, it was used as a Pia Almoina (almshouse), a medieval charitable institution that cared for the poor.
Founded in 812 AD by Abbot Bonitus, the monastery of Sant Esteve marks the birthplace of the town of Banyoles. Throughout its history, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times and the present building, with the exception of the portal, is a single-nave structure built in the neoclassical style, without any ornamentation. The church has the 15th-century Gothic altarpiece of Santa Maria de l’Escala. It is also possible to visit the baroque cloister built during the 18th century and the reliquary of Sant Martirià, the town’s patron saint.
The other church that you can visit is Santa Maria dels Turers, built in the late 13th century and early 14th century, heavily influenced by the early French Gothic style. The church also features a ribbed vault and a belfry with bell gable.
The 15th-century Llotja del Tint, used for wool dyeing, is one of the few Gothic industrial buildings that remain in Catalonia. With a rectangular floor plan, it is composed of two high ceilings with wooden beams, separated by three pointed arches. It is currently used for exhibitions.
In recent years, a stretch of the town’s old wall, built from the 13th century onwards, has been recovered. It is the most recently built stretch and you can still see the original embrasures and two Gothic-style gazebos built in the 16th or 17th centuries.
Strolling through the Old Quarter, you can also see several stretches of the town’s network of canals that have been restored, and the town’s two museums, the Darder Museum and the Archaeological Museum, are also worth visiting.
A large part of this itinerary runs through pedestrian areas closed to traffic and it is also suitable for people with reduced mobility. And it’s just a 10 minutes’ walk from the Lake.