Dali’s got competition in Spain. There is so much great art that it’s hard to know where to start. Spain is one of the few places in the world where you can see works by Picasso, Joan Miró and Antoni Gaudí just by walking down a street.
If you’re in Barcelona, you’re in for an artistic treat. While the city boasts countless museums and worthy pieces, many don’t realize that just two hours away by public transportation or rental car is a haven (heaven really) that Salvador Dali called home.
I rented a car and made sure I got my international driver’s license at AAA for $20 before leaving the US. It was necessary once I got to the rental car location. I also purchased full insurance on the vehicle, since driving in a foreign country you never know what can happen, and on a one-day rental you really can’t put a price on peace of mind.
Only rent a car when absolutely necessary. Barcelona has a great subway system that will save you a lot of time, headache and money while visiting. Not all day trips require a car–you can easily get to Montserrat by train, for instance. In this case, a car was the best way to squeeze the most out of the day without having to pay for a tour guide. We saw everything at our pace and were back in time to catch an FC Barcelona game at Camp Nou!
Our first stop was the Salvador Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres. We got there a little before it opened and had time to peruse nearby stores for souvenirs and get an idea of where we were at price-wise. If you buy your tickets ahead of time, you don’t need to stand in line, simply go in when the doors open, right by the ticket booth off the main street. You will not be going into the entrance with the big heavy revolving door until after, if you got the ticket for all exhibits.
The museum used to be a theatre but Dali purchased it and converted it into his life’s work. The golden statues are the guardians of his castle. Outside, you can see the rooftop of one specific area made to look like a fly’s eye.If you put a euro into the car as you enter, it will rain inside the car. This is the beginning of your unusual and oh-so-delightful trip into the world of Salvador Dali.
You have the ability to tour the museum at your pace, with a map. There is no guide but the staff is extremely knowledgable–they’re all art students currently or were at some point. They are also eager to help, so ask away! You will never discover the secrets of this place on your own. For instance, I’ll bet you had no idea that’s Salvador Dali’s unmarked grave right there in the middle, as everyone comes in. I certainly didn’t when I walked right over it, and neither did these people.
Or that this is the face of Mae West, in abstraction?
How about the fact that the empty drawers on this ceiling mural represent Dali pouring out everything he has into this place, his greatest masterpiece?
The museum is full of secrets waiting to be discovered, and you will not be disappointed at what you find inside. Allow around 2 hours to see all it has to offer.
Some of the more famous pieces include Leda Atomica, Galatea of the Spheres and Lincoln in Dalivision (below).
Once you’re done, it’s finally time to revisit those heavy revolving doors to enter the portion of the museum (a separate exhibit) that showcases Dali’s jewelry. That’s right, Dali made jewelry! And it is just as eccentric and one-of-a-kind as you would expect.
Aim to be finished at the Dali Museum by 12-12:30 and head for a quick lunch in the area. This is a small town, so bring cash as a lot of the local restaurants don’t take credit cards. We went on January 6th, which was Epiphany, so our options were very limited. However, we were served huge portions for a very fair price and had a wonderful meal before continuing our journey to Cadaqués.
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