Roses: its citadel and sand castles

Roses (cat. Roses) is a municipality in Spain, Catalonia, located in the Alt Empordà region (cat. L’Alt Empordà), which occupies the southern half of the Cap de Creus peninsula (cat. Cap de Creus). It is concentrated in the village of the same name located in the northern part of the Gulf of Roses.

This tourist center with residential complexes, hotels and other facilities, two ports (fishing and sports), is an important part of the northern sector of the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean resorts of Spain.

Today tourism is the main source of income for the Roses economy. The primary sector is also present in the city’s economy with agriculture (growing olives and grapes), and above all fishing, as Roses has the largest fishing port on the northern coast of Catalonia.


In the area occupied by the municipality of Roses, there are traces of human activity from the Neolithic era. Scattered throughout the region are many megalithic monuments, including the Creu d’en Cobertella dolmen, one of the largest in Catalonia, dating from around 3000 BC.


The Citadel of Roses (cat. Ciutadella de Roses) is a Renaissance fortification with later modifications, located northwest of the present city of Roses and overlooking the bay of the same name.

The popular name Citadel is technically incorrect, because it is not a fortress attached to a walled city, but the actual walls of the old town of Roses, the remains of which are preserved inside. Only in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the old fortification become a citadel in relation to the new city, which went beyond the territory of the walls, but never had its own defensive wall. Therefore, the name “defensive wall” (cat. Les Muralles), which is popular in Catalonia, is also much more appropriate.

The object has an irregular pentagon shape with a diameter of about 1000 meters and consists of two concentric defensive levels.

The first level consists of a glacis and a counterguard, connected by a slope. After the large moat that surrounds it, there is a second walled level, the edges of which are protected by bastions. The five bastions are known as Sant Joan and Sant Jordi in the west, Sant Andreu in the north and Sant Jaume and Santa Maria in the east, the latter being destroyed. The walls adjacent to the bastions are compacted on the outside, and reinforced with buttresses and earth embankments on the inside. They are located at a height of about nine meters. Two original entrance doors have survived.

The main façade is facing south and it is the portal of Mar (cat. El portal de Mar), which was protected by a barbican, of which only the foundations remain. It is built of regular limestone slabs in the form of a triumphal arch. To the north is the gate of Terra (cat. La porta de Terra), or Camp (cat. Camp), which were protected by a bastion.

Inside the citadel, partly preserved is the old medieval walled chain of the city of Roses, which was used to build the new citadel. These are the remains of walls and towers as the first defensive structure of the High Middle Ages, and later reforms and extensions of the Low Middle Ages. As for the first level, there are also the remains of the Benedictine basilica of the Santa Maria de Roses monastery (cat. Santa Maria de Roses) and the elements that accompany it.

The Visigothic village of Puig Rom (cat. Poblat visigòtic del Puig Rom) is located in the municipality of Roses at the top of Puig de les Murales, a hill located north of Puig Rom and east of the city of Roses. It is surrounded by buildings that correspond to the urbanization of Rum Hill, with the exception of the northern and eastern slopes. It is one of the few and best-preserved Visigothic monuments in the entire Iberian Peninsula.

The purpose of the construction of the complex was defensive and strategic.

Bufalaranya Castle (cat. Castell de Bufalaranya) is a fortification located in the municipality of Roses. It is located northeast of the city, on top of a rather steep hill that connects to the north with the Sierra de Can Berta and to the south with the Trencada Valley. It can be reached on foot by turning off the road from Roses to Cadaques. This work has been declared a Cultural Property of Catalonia of National Interest.

Santa Maria de Roses was a Benedictine monastery (cat. Santa Maria de Roses) based on the ruins of the city of Rhode, in the old county of Empuries, within the diocese of Girona, located in the present municipality of Roses. Its ruins are located inside the so-called Citadel of Roses and are part of the Museum of the Citadel of Roses. The monastery is included in the legal provisions for the protection of historical heritage that affect the entire Citadel of Roses.

La Trinitat Castle (cat. Castell de la Trinitat) is a building located east of the city of Roses. It looks out over the Gulf of Roses from about 60 meters above sea level. The name comes from the hermitage, built in 1508, which was destroyed, along with the defensive tower that stood in the area when the castle was built. Emperor Carles I ordered it to be built before the construction of the Citadel of Rosas. Work began on January 2, 1544 and ended in mid-1551. The author of the project is the Castilian engineer Luis de Pizaño. The building has been declared a cultural heritage of Catalonia of national interest.

Santa Maria de Roses (cat. Església de Santa Maria de Roses) is a parish church in the diocese of Girona in the center of Roses, protected as a cultural heritage of local importance. It is a church with three naves and a domed transept. The side aisles correspond to a series of three chapels connected to each other. There are two sectors with different chronology: the transept corresponds to the late eighteenth-century temple (consecrated in 1796). The naves and frontal part are the work of reform and expansion of the second half of the nineteenth century (started in 1863). Both parts are covered with cylindrical vaults with lunettes, former arches and ornamental molding.

Casa Mallol or Casa Cambó is a historic complex in the municipality of Roses, protected as a cultural heritage of local interest. Located in the very center of the city, on Plaza Catalunya, on the site where the embankment used to be.


Festa Major de Roses takes place on August 15th. There is always classical music, habanera and sardana, the show of the giants also takes place.

Since the 17th century, the city has been celebrating the Carnaval of Roses (cat. El Carnaval de Roses). It starts on Maundy Thursday and lasts four days with various events, although the main one is the parade on l’Avinguda de Rhode, which shows the most original costumes prepared for the occasion.


There are two Michelin-rated restaurants in the city:

ROM, Passeig Marítim 43, 35 – 60 EUR • Traditional cuisine

Sumac, Cap Norfeu 22, 25 – 60 EUR • Seasonal cuisine


The Municipal Market is an authentic place where you can stock up on fresh produce every day (meats, fish, sausages, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, breads and fresh pastries).

The fishing port is a direct access to traders selling fresh fish. It enters the port from numerous areas of the Costa Brava. The assortment includes shrimps, anchovies, monkfish, hake, mussels…

The city center is full of shops where you can buy local products such as wines, olive oil, as well as handicrafts, perfumes, clothes, shoes, accessories.


The Roses Coast is full of contrasts, with cliffs and secluded coves bordering beautiful sandy beaches with deep blue and shallow waters ideal for families with children and water sports. The bays are part of the Cap de Creus Natural Park.

The Roses resort is ideal for diving enthusiasts.

The promenade, beaches and coves of Roses are certified by the Environmental Management System, which guarantees the quality of the beaches both in terms of the purity of the sea water and in terms of the services offered. These quality certificates are internationally recognized: the European EMAS certificate, as well as the international ISO 14001 certificate.

How to get there?

By car:

From Figueres – 29 minutes (22.1 km) via C-260

From Girona – 58 minutes (61.4 km) via AP-7 (tolls)

From Barcelona – 1 hour 57 minutes (158 km) via AP-7 (tolls)

From Madrid – 7 hr 47 min (757 km) via A-2 and AP-2

The nearest international airports are in Girona and Barcelona.

There is a direct bus service between Roses, Barcelona and Figueres.

Main information

Area: 46 sq. km

Coordinates: 42 ° 15 ′ 48 ″ N, 3 ° 10 ′ 30 ″ E

Population: 19,800

Languages: Spanish, Catalan

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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