The Castle-Palace of la Bisbal d’Empordà
, a construction that was at the same time castle
, is one of the few examples of Romanesque civil architecture
conserved in Catalan territory.
Located in the middle of a Medieval village, it was occupied for centuries by the lords of the region, the Bishops of Girona
. The clergy obtained absolute control of la Bisbal (hence the name's origin) thanks to King Jaume I
who granted them civil and criminal jurisdiction of the city. The castle became the site of spiritual and terrestrial power of its Lords. From its vantage point in the centre of the village, the bishops controlled the lands bathed by the river Daró and also administered justice which spurred the need for a prison.
The first thing that draws attention in the castle-palace is its sheer grandness
. Boasting a rectangular layout, the original Romanesque building has been modified numerous times with structures of other styles (like the door and some Renaissance windows in the façade). As characteristic elements of Romanesque architecture we find semicircular voussoired
windows in the North East and North West façade of the castle. In the latter area, there is also a basement
constructed with inclined bricks, known as opus spicatum
, a commonly utilised technique during antiquity and the first Middle Ages. Once inside the castle, we pass through a clearly Romanesque corridor, covered by a quarter circle vault and, descending the stairs we find the famous castle prison, a rectangular room covered with a semicircular arch
The doors of the five rooms on the first floor are also crowned by these arches. If the bottom-most part is the prison, the highest part is the location of the chapel of Sant Miquel, also in the Romanesque style. The chapel is located in a rectangular space that, seen from the outside, is the most outstanding of the entire complex. With only a single nave the church is covered by a slightly pointed barrel vault.
The Castle-Palace of la Bisbal d’Empordà is part of the ‘Romanesque weekend: L'Empordà
Authors of the photographs: Toniher and PMRMaeyaert.