The Beginnings of Tourism on the Costa Brava

From the beginnings of tourism to the boom of the 1960s and the first calls to environmentalism, modern architecture finds a privileged scenario on the Costa Brava.

The name Costa Brava refers to the coast of the province of Girona that stretches from Blanes to the Cap de Creus in Cadaqués. The most emblematic image are its sea cliffs, but the coastline also includes long sandy beaches adjacent to the plain of the Empordà.

Although the Costa Brava entered the collective imagination after the tourist boom in the 1960s, beach tourism was already a widespread reality in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the first architecturally relevant tourist complexes was the development of the stretch of coast around S’Agaró by the architect Rafael Massó, a member of the Noucentisme movement.

Exhibition by Roger Subirà

Mass Tourism and the Creation of an Imaginary

From the 1950s onward, mass tourism emerged as a genuinely Spanish phenomenon, becoming one of the pillars of the country’s economy. Tourism on the Costa Brava began simultaneously in several places. One of the first large operations was developed by the architect and businessman Josep Maria Bosch i Aymerich: the Cap Sa Sal hotel, which offers one of the best examples of modern gardens in Catalonia, designed by Rubió i Tudurí.

Culture and cinema played a fundamental role in making the Girona coastline famous worldwide. The parties attended by Hollywood stars attracted photojournalists who used the spectacular local landscapes as a backdrop, making them well-known internationally.

Cadaqués

The town of Cadaqués is characterised by its geographical location on the Cap de Creus, with very difficult access and spectacular rocky landscapes. Beginning in the 1950s, when it began to appear in the imaginary created by Salvador Dalí, Cadaqués became an important cultural centre where figures from the artistic avant-garde converged, including Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Mary Fugazzola, among others. Influenced by the well-preserved, picturesque town centre, local and international architects such as Lanfranco Bombelli, Peter Harnden, Federico Correa and Alfons Milà, Josep Antoni Coderch and Francesc Barba Corsini began to design a new kind of architecture which, although modern, showed absolute respect for the local vernacular.

Urban Development in the 1960s

Starting in the 1960s, the Costa Brava underwent an intense transformation: the surroundings of its picturesque fishing villages served as a territory for experimentation in which two opposing city models converged: the garden city and collective housing. The urban centres were transformed with an increase in density and vertical growth on the seafront. Alongside the hotels and urban and suburban tourist complexes, the territory surrounding the existing developments was invaded by single-family housing in the mountainous areas and networks of tourist apartment blocks on the flat stretches facing the sea. Some luxury villas were built amid the spectacular landscapes facing the sea.

The First Environmentalists Speak Out

Although it is true that the orography of some stretches of the coast prevents the massive occupation that has occurred in other places further south, at the end of the 1960s the impact on the landscape was very clear. The first environmental groups managed to paralyze large-scale developments as the transition toward democracy began. Despite their actions, the slow occupation of the territory continued until recently, when a moratorium on new construction came into force along the entire coastline of the region of Girona.

Casa Sendrós

Casa Sendrós

Carrer de l'Horitzó 25
17220, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, España

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Casa Rozes

Avenida Díaz Pacheco 184, final carretera de l'Almadrava
17480, Roses, España

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Casa Fontfreda

Casa Fontfreda

Calles de l'Empordà 19 y Mallorca s/n
17250, Platja d'Aro, España

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Casa Cantarell

Casa Cantarell

Carrer Punta d'en Toni 6, Sa Riera
17255, Begur, España

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Casa Cruylles

Carrer Port d'Esclanyà 5, Paraje de Aiguablava
17255, Begur, España

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Grupo de apartamentos en el Golf Platja de Pals

Carrer del Golf 78, Platja de Pals
17256, Pals, España

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Casa Cendrós

Casa Cendrós

passeig del Mar 24, Rambla Antoni Vidal 1-5
17220, Sant feliu de Guíxols, España

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Casa Cala Pelosa, Casa Clos Rahola

Carretera de Cala Montjoi a Cadaqués por la costa
, Roses, España

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Hotel Alga

Hotel Alga

Avenida Joan Pericot i García 51-55
17210, Calella de Palafrugell, España

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Centro Comercial Politur

Centro Comercial Politur

Avenida Politur 1
17250, Platja d’Aro, España

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Jardines del Hotel Cap Sa Sal

Jardines del Hotel Cap Sa Sal

Carretera de Begur a Cala d’Aiguafreda (GIV-6534)
17255, Cap Sa Sal, Aiguafreda, Begur, España

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Casa Castanera

Casa Castanera

Calle del Golfet 6
17210, Calella de Palafrugell, España

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Casa Petín

Casa Petín

Calle Illes Formigues 1
17210, Calella de Palafrugell, España

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Casas pareadas Nadal

Casas pareadas Nadal

Calle Josep Pla 12
17230, Palamós, España

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Mas Garbà

Mas Garba

Urbanización Mas Llòbrega
17253, Vall•Llòbrega, España

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Mas Vidal

Mas Vidal

Urbanización Mas Vidal
17253, Vall Llòbrega, España

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Casa Julià

Avenida del Pi 22, Paraje Es Colomer
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Casa Rumeu

Casa Rumeu

Calle de Ses Oliveres 11
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Chalet Pérez del Pulgar

Camino Ronda Ros Pere Fet 15, playa del Ros
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Ca l'Acerbi

Ca l’Acerbi

Avenida del Pelegrí 3
17320, Tossa de Mar, España

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Casa Bombelli – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Calle Solitari 12 / Calle Santa Bàrbara
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Apartamentos Pianc – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Calle de Pianc 19-23
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Casa Rosa

Casa Rosa

Avenida Antoni J. Rovira 12-18 y calle Lanzarote 2-12
17210, Calella de Palafrugell, España

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Casa Puig

Riera de Treumal
17249, Platja d'Aro, España

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Casas Barba

Casas Barba

Antiguo camino a Port Lligat s/n
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Casa Staempfli – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Calle Doctor Callís 7
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Vila Glòria – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Calle Sant Pere 5-7
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Casa Senillosa – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Calle Bruguera 6
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Estudio Mary Calleri – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Plaça Marcel Duchamp 1
17488, Cadaqués, Girona, España

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Casa Mary Calleri – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Calle Roses 8
17488, Cadaqués, España

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Casa Villavecchia – Viviendas modernas en el casco antiguo de Cadaqués

Eduard Marquina 7
17488, Cadaqués, España

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