World-famous for its film festival, vintage car rally, Carnival and beaches, this breathtakingly beautiful sea-coast town forms an incomparable combination of culture, sun, leisure and gastronomy all year round.
Sitges is pure art. Just half an hour from Barcelona, its whitewashed houses and its air of a fishing village captivate visitors, as do its many different museums. Behind the church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla lie three buildings in particular which are authentic architectural jewels, all laden with works of art. The first one is the Cau Ferrat Museum —once the home and atelier of the great painter and author Santiago Rusiñol. A temple of Modernisme, it also features works by El Greco and Picasso. The Maricel Museum, for its part, occupies the old Hospital of Sant Joan, displaying its superb antique and modern sculpture collections. The third building is the Palau (Palace) Maricel, Sitges’ most representative Noucentista structure, with its magnificent Hall of Gold and Blue Hall, and its chapel, cloister and terraces.
Contemporary art lovers should not miss the Stämpfli Foundation, where some 100 works by 60 prestigious artists from 21 countries are on display. Museums aside, however, to get a surprising view of Sitges, take a guided urban tour, for example of the Americanos Route, where you’ll see the fabulous Modernista houses of people from Sitges who made their fortune in the Americas at the turn of the 20th century. The beautiful Terramar Gardens are another must. A restored natural area, the Gardens host a music festival in the summer, with artists like Luis Fonsi, George Benson or Rick Astley. But Sitges is not just a place for the summer: in the autumn it holds the Sitges, International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia and the Grape Harvest Festival; in the winter the Carnival and the Barcelona-Sitges International Vintage Car Rally; and in the spring the Art Fair, the International Patchwork Festival, and the Sitges Old-Time Jazz Festival, among other events.
Malvasia: a local grape variety
Malvasia, dating back to the 14th century, forms part of the historical and emotional heritage of Sitges. More than just a grape variety and a sweet wine, it is a witness to the town’s winegrowing past. Once on the verge of disappearing as a result of the 19th century’s Great Wine Blight, it is now protected, conserved and promoted by the Malvasia Interpretation Centre. This institution, which opened only recently, is located in the old Corral de la Vila and the Sant Joan Baptista Hospital’s former wine cellar. Here, visitors get the chance to taste the various types of malvasia wines, to purchase them, and to learn about the production process on a visit to the old Hospital’s own vineyard.