Caldes de Malavella – my love at first sight
Have you been to Barcelona? I bet!
Have you visited Costa Brava? I hope so!
And have you heard of Caldes de Malavella? I am sure you haven’t!
I didn’t know either that Caldes (how it is called by locals) existed. Not until I saw the plan of our Costa Brava trip and until I visited it personally in the end of September 2012. It was the last place we had a chance to see during those 3 days packed with adventures. And let me tell you, the best place to end such an exhausting trip!
It is such a shame that not many people know about Caldes de Malavella. This small town of around 7,000 inhabitants has loads of different things to offer. You can easily go there just for a day to get away from the hustle and bustle of vibrant Barcelona, or to warm up in colder days when the sea at the closest beaches of Costa Brava (such as Tossa de mar) is not warm enough any more. Just an hour from Barcelona and 30 – 60 minutes from the coast by car. Yes, really!
And I still wonder why after spending so much time during my more than 20 visits to Barcelona, my favorite city, and Costa Brava, one of my favorite parts of the world, no one showed me the paradise of Caldes?!
But there is always the first time … and I guess Caldes, still a non-existent town for majority, preserves its charm probably for the same reason. And to say it really amazed me would be an understatement.
Even though I spent less than 24 hours in Caldes, it got under my skin. Caldes was my love at first sight.
The most famous thing about Caldes is its thermal baths.
Already back in time when Via Augusta passed close by, the town was known for its thermal baths. And yes, still nowadays the main reason why people go to Caldes de Malavella is because of its beneficial thermal water – not only for bathing in, but also for drinking due to its healing digestive qualities.
A few thermal water sources can be found around Caldes and we drank from one of them – Fountain of Mine (they all have names!). The water has a strong taste so making a weird face is probably inevitable for the first time. But what you wouldn’t do for health and beauty, right?
And once you drink it, you also have to jump in it. Not in one of the fountains though but in balnearios. There are a few thermal baths around the town, but the most famous one is Balneari Prats we could experience and also Vichy Catalan both dating back to the second half of the 19th century.
Caldes – a town full of history
When we started walking around Caldes de Malavella, I had no idea I was going to leave with my mouth open. Historic buildings are something I cannot get enough, no matter where I visit. And Caldes? There is a stunning historic building or a church everywhere you look! All those little side streets could show you some. Modernist Pink House (Casa Rosa), Casa Punxes, Sant Grau hermitage church or Villa Quintana at St. Stephen’s square to name a few.
At the square you can spot also the main St. Stephen’s church from the 11th century which renovation in the 17th century preserved the Romanesque facade.
Are you a history freak? Then you have to spend some time breathing the beauty of the Roman remains. The Roman town of Aquae CALIDAE used to stand here. The ruins show very well the original Roman baths with a central pool surrounded by rooms with healing treatments. As well more remains of the medieval town with the original walls can be found close by.
The town was named after two medieval castles – the first one was de Caldes and the second one de Malavella which show importance of the place already back in history.
Caldes town is a great place for archaeology lovers, too.
Again, not known to many, excavations take place in El Camp dels Ninots (the Camp of the Dolls) – an old crater 500 metres in diametre West of Caldes. Named due to the shapes of the opal stones, the Camp of the Dolls became one of the most important archaeological sites in the Iberian Peninsula. Usually twice a year, in spring and early autumn new excavation start in here. Found Pleistocene lithium tools, mammals, rhinoceros cattle and fossils of plants are great preserved and in a huge amount makes it an archaeological site of huge importance in Catalonia.
If archaeology, history and thermal baths were not enough for you (I would be really surprised if that was the case), Caldes de Malavella also offers silence. Yes, silent colourful streets to stroll down after you take healing treatments because your mind needs to relax too.
And how about a jow-dropping pinky sunset?
This trip was a press trip organized by Costa Brava tourism board. All the thoughts in the article are just my own as usual. For more information, please visit Caldes de Malavella official website. They do guided visit tours of Caldes on Sunday at 11am.