The perfect trip: Catalonia
Best for Dalí: Cap de Creus and Figueres
An austere landscape of rock, Cap de Creus is mainland Spain’s easternmost point and the place where master painter Salvador Dalí found much of his inspiration. ‘It’s impossible to understand Dalí’s surrealism,’ says Antoni Pitxot, a painter and Dalí’s one-time confidant and collaborator, ‘without understanding his relationship with Cap de Creus. ‘From when he was a child, Dalí used to spend hours at a time here, walking barefoot across the cape then contemplating for hours the rocks, the sun on them, how the light fell. Ah, the conversations we used to have about those rocks! He would say to me, “Did you see that…?”’ Dalí’s passion for the landscape is contagious. Cap de Creus is an otherworldly terrain of strangely striated rocks glistening with the patina of ages, veins running through them like rivers. Outcrops come suddenly into focus – bizarre rocky forms that evoke Dalí’s sense of the absurd. Here, a craggy, wind-worn face in profile; there, the rock that served as muse for Dalí’s masterwork, The Great Masturbator. ‘For Dalí, Cap de Creus was a fantastical place,’ says Pitxot. ‘Or as he put it, “a grandiose geological delirium”.’ Dalí’s eccentricity is much in evidence in the village of Port Lligat. His former home, which is now the Casa Museo Dalí, is an old fisherman’s hut that was transformed into a labyrinthine building now filled with his weird paraphernalia: a stuffed polar bear, a phallus-shaped swimming pool, a wooden bust of Christ, an unfinished painting on the easel. Although he spent most of his adult life on the coast, Dalí was born and died in the town of Figueres, an hour inland. Here, the Dalí Theatre-Museum – co-designed with Pitxot before Salvador Dalí’s death – houses the world’s finest collection of his art works. Lurking in the background of so many of his masterpieces (Leda Atomica, The Spectre of Sex Appeal, Othello Dreaming of Venice, Rhinocerotic Figure of “Illisus” of Phidias) is the artist’s beloved Cap de Creus, a land that is both real and imagined.
The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí oversees the painter’s legacy and runs Dalí museums at Figueres and Port Lligat.
Where to eat
Cadaqués, a pretty seaside town on the Cap de Creus peninsula, has many waterfront restaurants, but Restaurante Cuatro is a cut above. Try the excellent grilled seafood platter (mains from £14).