If you visit Girona, like I did recently, one of the most surreal things you can do is visit Dali’s Castle of Pubol, also known as the Gala Dali Castle. Oh and btw… “surreal”? Pun intended 😉
Possibly the most underrated of Dali-related attractions in the region, I can’t recommend a visit to Dali’s Castle of Púbol enough. Why? Well maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for a love story. In essence, this castle is Dali’s love letter (through architecture and design) to his wife Gala.
And what a love letter it is!
Our visit to Dali’s Castle of Púbol
We visited on a gorgeous spring day, not sure what to expect in Púbol, but greeted by brown brick buildings, crumbling walls, and this ivy covered castle entry way. At only €6 for students/under 26 (and €8 for non-students) a visit to Dali’s Castle of Púbol is really a steal.
Perhaps this is because Púbol is so remote, but there were no other visitors at the height of spring break season, and it felt like we had Dali’s masterpiece to ourselves for the day. As if he had made it just for us, as if he knew that years after creating his masterpiece it would be enjoyed by those who ventured off the beaten path, for secluded and surreal afternoons.
Entering the museum/castle, you are given a map with the order to visit each part of the castle. Naturally, we completely ignored this and started at the end… Gala’s crypt. Dali’s Castle of Pubol was the masterpiece he made for his wife Gala, and also where Gala spent her final days. She is actually buried deep in a crypt in the castle courtyard, and you can walk down the cool stone steps to see for yourself. Her grave is surrounded by eery, skinny statues of lions and giraffes… perhaps her surrealist husband’s final ode? Or Gala’s decision herself…
The surreal castle decorations
The castle’s medieval exterior is matched with the surrealist design decisions that only Dali himself could have chosen. Dali bought the castle in 1968 for his wife, Gala, and filled it with the most unusual and delightful pieces, as if it was all one large, elaborate joke he was playing on the castle’s solemn exterior…
Probably the most interesting part of our visit to Dali’s Castle of Pubol was not actually learning about Dali himself… but learning about his powerful and mysterious wife, Gala. Dali designed the castle for his wife Gala, so that she could spend her summers there. There is actually a contract on display that they signed, saying that Dali cannot visit the castle unless Gala gave him explicit permission to do so. It really was her own haven.
As we explored the castle, we spoke a lot about Gala, and what we imagined she was like. Angela said “I feel she was independent. She was her own woman. She didn’t need anybody.” We won’t ever know, but we imagined Gala was the kind of woman we all wished to be. I imagined she could have created this castle for herself, if she’d wished to. But she didn’t wish to, so she didn’t.
You can probably tell that our visit to Dali’s Castle of Pubol did not really feel like a museum visit. It was more like sneaking through someone else’s home while they’re out on holiday. The one part that did feel like a museum was Gala’s dress exhibit. A small room on the top floor, some of her most elaborate and famous dresses are displayed behind glass. We each picked out our favorites, of course.
A visit to Dali’s Castle of Pubol is more than just a visit to a castle, though. Entry tickets give you free reign of all the gardens and land, including the outdoor garage where Dali’s cars are parked. We enjoyed posing…just a bit…
And even though this isn’t an art museum, there are nods to Dali’s surrealist art throughout. Probably the most incredible were these garden statues Dali made in likeness of his famous 1948 painting, The Elephants.
The furthest garden from the castle houses this wonderful fountain…what looks baroque at first is (surprise) surrealist on closer inspection. Those little circles surrounding the angry fish? They’re likenesses of famous composer Wagner’s face… apparently Wagner was Dali’s favorite composer, so he just figured he’d plaster his face all around his fountain. Casual. I mean, why not?! (Is that how you become a surrealist… you just ask yourself WHY NOT after everything you think of doing?!).
And in true surrealist nature, paying no heed to time/place/responsibility, we spent quite a while just wandering the estate. Taking photos here and there, generally goofing off, enjoying the view…
Thank you to Alexia and Angela for taking us on a tour of your lovely region, and for a visit to Dali’s Castle of Pubol!
How to get there: The easiest way to get to Dali’s Castle of Pubol is to drive and park in the free parking lot in the village of Pubol. You can also take a train to the Flaçà station which is 4km away, and from there either walk (beautiful countryside!) or get a taxi. You can take a bus to either Flaçà or La Pera, which is only 2km away. More details including directions here.
Entry: You can view updated opening hours and prices here. The castle’s opening hours vary based on season.
Gala Dalí Square
E-17120 Púbol-la Pera
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