Often referred to as the “Saint-Tropez of Spain”, Sitges is just 30 minutes from Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport.
In the 1960s it was a focal point of Spain’s counter-culture, becoming known as “Ibiza in miniature”, and since then it has consolidated its tourist and cultural credentials with a comprehensive agenda of festivals, carnival celebrations and corporate events, no fewer than 17 beaches, an average of 300 sunny days a year, diverse culinary options and vibrant nightspots.
A significant proportion of Sitges’ 26,000 permanent residents are foreigners (mostly from the UK, France, Netherlands and Scandinavian countries), and it is also one of Spain’s foremost LGBTI destinations.
Modern-day Sitges is founded on a fourth century former Iberian settlement, “Blanca Subur”, and for much of the 16th and 17th century fishing was the locals’ main economic activity.
The “modernist heritage” that defines Sitges can be traced to Spanish painter, poet and playwright Santiago Rusiñol, who moved to the area in 1891. He was one of the leaders of the Catalan “modernisme” movement, and today his house and workshop, the Car Ferrat Museum, is one of Sitges’ main attractions.
North American businessman Charles Deering visited Sitges in 1909 and funded construction of the Palau de Maricel, an architectural gem situated next to Cau Ferrat in the Racó de la Calma.
The first major hotel dedicated to tourism, Hotel Subur, opened in 1916; the initial edition of the Sites Film Festival was held in 1968; and Port d’Aiguadolç, one of the largest marinas in the Mediterranean, began operations in 1975.
In 2015, Sitges was added to the list of sustainable Certified Biosphere Destinations by the UNESCO-linked Responsible Tourism Institute.
This certification recognises Sitges’ quality and sustainability in an environmental, social and economic sphere, confirming – according to tourism authorities – the town’s “commitment to non-seasonal tourism that is respectful to our cultural and natural heritage. The result is that we all win: those who live here in Sitges and those who visit us. Because we all count.”
Places of Interest
Home to the 17th century Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla parish church (commonly known as “La Punta”), the Plaça del Baluard square is one of the town skyline’s most iconic viewpoints and also the entrance to the old town.
East from Plaça del Baluard, in the Carrer Fonollar, is the Cau Ferrat Museum and Maricel Maricel Museum and Palau de Maricel. Heading down the street, to Carrer Baluarte Vidal-Quadras, visitors can view one of Sitges’ most stunning beaches: Sant Sebastià.
From Carrer Fonollar, left onto Carrer Sant Joan, is Carrer de la Davallada and the ruins of the old mediaeval wall, which continues down to Carrer d’en Bosch, the oldest street in Sitges. Palau del Rei Moro, a gothic building included in the “Inventory for Architectural Heritage” in Cataluña, continues this journey through time.
From Carrer d’en Bosch you arrive at Plaça de l’Ajuntament square, with the town hall dating to 1889 and built on the foundations and supporting walls of the mediaeval castle. Formerly the old market, the neighbouring building now houses the Casa Bacardí Visitor Centre. Just behind the town hall is the Santiago Rusiñol Public Library, which occupies Miquel Utrillo’s former stately home.
Located in the Penedès wine-producing region, Sitges offers a varied wine tourism experience, “deep-rooted in the concept of slow food”.
Held on the first weekend of October, the Sitges Wine Fair creates a space where visitors can discover wines from different wineries in the region, highlighted by products with a Penedès Denomination of Origin and wines produced in El Garraf.
The Festa de la Verema, in addition to the first pressing and the grape treading competition, is held as a tribute to wine lovers – and is “a good time to meet Sitges’ ‘Pubilles’ and ‘Hereus’ (traditional Catalan family ‘heir’ and young girl picked from cultural organisations)”.
Sitges is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations for gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual visitors. “Irrespective of your age or where you come from,” say tourism authorities, “the atmosphere here is both unique and special, cosmopolitan and tolerant, fun and relaxed. Furthermore, the selection and the concentration of bars and hotels is unrivalled… Sitges means colour. Or better said: Sitges means many colours. Sitges means freedom. Everyone is welcome. And it has been like this for many years.”
For more detailed in formation about Sitges, visit the official Sitges Tourist Board website or check out #sitgesanytime.