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Light weight cotton quick dry T-shirt
The greatest monument in Catalunya is also the largest bastioned fortress in Europe. The Castle of Sant Ferran (Castillo san Fernando) occupies an area of 550,000 square metres at the top of the hill of Figueres. As a frontier Castle, the location is unbeatable: It has good views of the Serra de la Albera, which creates the border with France, and the Gulf of Roses.
Undoubtedly it was constructed to meet the need to reinforce the border after the Peace of the Pyrenees of 1659 and owes its name to King Ferran VI (Ferdinand VI). The fortification, started in 1766 and completed in 1892, consists of two enclosures.
The interior, of more than 325,000 m2, consists of six bastions connected by stretches of wall. The size of the buildings cannot go unnoticed: stables with capacity for 500 horses, warehouses to store food for 10,000 people for a year, the main square, new pavilions for the accommodation of the officers and their families, and four big cisterns with a total capacity of nine million litres of water.
The exterior enclosure, with a perimeter of 3,120 metres, made up of three horn works, seven ravelins and two counterguards. It is separated from the outside by a large moat of 10 hectares, which can currently be visited, including the underground galleries.
From May 1940 to December 1942, The Francoist regime used the castle as a concentration camp where returned republicans from France were held. During the Franco Era the castle was used as a prison for citizens against the franciost regime and those that promoted democratic elections. From 1956 it became exclusively a military prison until 1991.
since 1997 the fortress has been open for tourist visits. There are two types of visit:
1- An unguided tour following a set route around the fortress and includes the Main square, barracks, underground stables, moat and walls.
2- A tour of the underground cisterns in 4x4 vehicle. This tour has to be arranged in advance and is subject to availability.
Note that the website does not give prices for the unguided tour or underground cistern tour. When I visited I paid 4 euros for the unguided tour without prior reservation, but I also want to return to do the cistern tour.
Summer: 10:00h to 20:00h (1st July to 15th September).
Winter: 10:00h to 18:00h (16th July to 30th June).
Easter Weekend: 10:00h to 20:00h (Friday to Sunday).
Winter last Sunday of October, November, December, January, February and March: 10:00h to 15:00h.
Closed: Mondays except public holiday's; 1st and 6th January; 25th and 26th December.
Admission up to 1 hour before closing time.
For the Figueres day trip I pack a small 10L rucksack with a fleece jersey and if the weather forecast says rain, a waterproof poncho.
Sant Ferran castle does not have an audio guide so no need for headphones. I recommend comfortable shoes because the self guided tour round the castle and the walk up to the castle is about 3km.
The castle self guided tour route is over uneven paths and is via ramps except for the last section leaving the underground gallery stables which is via stairs. I did not see any elevators on the tour route.
Light weight cotton quick dry T-shirt
Small 10L day trip and museums rucksack
Small folded lightweight Water proof poncho for emergencies
Reusable, refillable 1L water bottle.
With 3.5mm jack. For running and for museum visits that have an audio guide. Museums don't provide headphones since Covid.
Address: Pujada del Castell S/N, Figueres. 17600
Figueres can be reached via the REGIONAL train service which has a station in the centre of town. Figures is also served by the AVE high speed rail network which has a station on the outskirts of the town called Figures-Vilafant.
The Regional Trains start in Barcelona-sants, stopping at Barcelona-Passeig de Gracia, Girona and other station on the way to Girona. There are two types of Regional train the MD train which makes fewer stops and has more luxurious carriages with tables as well as being 20 minutes faster. The R11 Regional trains stop at every station on the way to figueres.
The AVE trains take 50 minutes from barcelona-Sants to Figueres-Vilafant, a new station 20 minutes walk from the centre of town but near to Sant Ferran Fortress.
For a train map comparing all the routes from Barcelona or Girona to Figueres see the train map in the documents section.
If travelling to Figueres by car, there is Parking Saba El Garrigal directly behind Figueres Dali Museum in Carrer Canigo.