Perpignan, the art of Catalan living
A rich and varied heritage
The turbulent history of Perpignan stretches back centuries. The ruins visible in parts of the town bear witness to a sometimes bloody past
Strolling through the streets of the city, ancient monuments and features abound - both civilian and military, remains of a distant time. The city remains deeply marked by the mediaeval period when the city was born.
History buffs will love strolling around the streets of our Catalan capital!
Discover the Castillet, the emblem of the city, and the old principal entry gate to the walled town. Built in 1368 during the Aragonese period, it was turned into a prison in the eighteenth century. It now houses the Casa Pairal, the museum of arts and popular traditions.
Not far away, you can discover the ancient Maritime Court with its Gothic architecture, today known as the "Loge de Mer." Located next to this is the town hall, built in the fourteenth century with its colourful patio mosaic, the work of the great artist Aristide Maillol, who once lived in Banyuls-sur-Mer. Admire his seminal work "La Méditerranée" which is on display here.
The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist was built in the Gothic architectural style in 1324 and became a Cathedral in 1601. It is unusually large for its time and is classified as a historic monument. It houses many works of art, including altar pieces, statues and paintings.
The Kings of Majorca also left their mark on city of Perpignan, leaving behind some beautiful buildings, such as the Campo Santo (the Cloister Cemetery of St. John) built in the 14th century. You can also admire the Gothic portico in white marble which adorns the perimeter of the building. Today, The Campo Santo is classified as a historic monument.
The most imposing emblem of this time remains the magnificent Palace of the Kings of Majorca, which dominates the city and stands opposite the mountain of the Catalans, Mount Canigou, juxtaposing two of the strongest symbols of Catalan identity! This magnificent 13th century palace served as the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca for nearly a century. Commissioned by Jacques II, it reflects the richness and importance of the status of Perpignan as the political, economic and cultural capital of the medieval western Mediterranean.
Other historic sites in the city also host temporary exhibitions, notably the Chapelle Notre-Dames-des-Anges and the Maison de la Catalanité.
Perpignan has a number of parks and gardens, such as the Square Bir Hakeim with plane trees dating back to 1809 and palm trees. A change of scenery awaits you at the Digue d’Orry Exotic Garden which contains 208 plant species from around the world... a lovely visit accompanied by subtle floral scents.
If you'd rather go shopping, indulge in the legendary Catalan stone, garnet, which can be seen in the windows of jewellers around the city. Traditional garnet jewellery is fashioned using a unique process, and is the most prestigious of arts and crafts in the area.
Discover the Toiles du Soleil, the Catalan fabric with an international reputation. It is recognizable by its beautiful patterns and typical colours.
In the evening, the atmosphere is warm and inviting, and you'll quickly find yourself with a drink in one of the many fashionable bars along the avenue Général Leclerc, on the Place de Verdun and the Place de la Republique. Don't miss the excellent shows at the Théâtre de l’Archipel, with works by Jean Nouvel and Brigitte Métra.
The archetypal City of the South, Perpignan is full of life, and the festival is in its genes! Events, festivals, exhibitions, cultural and musical events take place throughout the year!
Come and share the festive atmosphere, the warmth and the sunshine in the heart of the Catalan capital!