Of course, we would like to visit all the museums of the world associated with the name of the most extravagant of Spaniards, but a more realistic option would be to see Salvador Dali’s museums at least in his native Spain. Several years ago, we visited Figueres, and this time, returning to Catalonia, we thought: why not visit Pubol—the castle presented by Salvador Dali to his wife Gala Dali?
We were a bit confused by the fact that blog posts about visits to the home of Salvador and Gala Dali were extremely controversial in the Internet, but our friends advised unequivocally, “Go by all means!” And here we are in the actual Spanish province, a hundred kilometers from Barcelona, among fields of blooming poppies and a slight smell of manure. Thirty years ago, one of the most notorious couples in Europe lived in this castle.
Actually, for me, a castle means something monumental, big and old. Externally, Pubol looks quite old—it is dated from the 11th century—but it’s hard to call it big. The house is small and does not look like a castle, but very often in our travels, we found that the exterior of some castles was much more impressive than their interior. Everything was different in Pubol: the main things were not outside, but inside. It is surprising, but during the 30 years since Dali left the house, it has not lost its atmosphere, aura, charm, and comfort. Even large crowds of tourists were not able to trample it. One wonders whether the power of the famous pair was so strong, or is it perhaps that Salvador Dali’s mystical elephants, located in the small garden of the manor, guard this place?
Salvador Dali had promised Gala a castle for a very long time, since it was her dream. Who among us does not have such a dream? Pubol is a distant place, of course, a small village, almost deserted, but I would not have refused that house located near the Castle either. This is a very cozy place for quiet aging and thinking in the garden to the music of Wagner. Why Wagner? Read on.
Salvador Dali was not able to fulfill his promise until 40 years later, and then Gala surprised her extremely extravagant husband: she allowed him to appear in her castle only with her written consent on his formal request.
Some quotes from travel blogs: “Why go there? What is so outstanding there? A small castle, in fact a house in the village, presented by Salvador to his aging wife, where she lived with her latest lover and maintained a temperature of 16 degrees to not “spoil with age.” “He asked for written permission of the hostess to visit her in the castle which he bought, and received written permission, or did not…”
But what did Salvador Dali himself say about it? Surely, the mega star heard this question more than once.
“Gala took my hand and said: Once again I thank you for everything. I accept the Castle of Pubol, but under one condition: you are not going to appear here without my written permission. This condition flattered my masochistic tendencies and led me into rapture. Again, Gala turned into a fortress which she always was. Close proximity, and especially familiarity, can extinguish passion and cool the senses, but distance, as shown by neurotic rituals of courtly love, only enhances passion.”
Is Pubol worthy of your time? For anyone who is interested in famous paintings by Salvador Dali, his surrealism, extraordinary story of his love for a woman who was much older than him and belonged to a different culture, it is worth it. Visit it. Dali House-Museum in Figueres is primarily a museum and then the house. The Pubol Castle is foremost a house and only then a museum.
Was one of the worlds most famous grandmothers happy in her castle? I am sure, yes. Just look at her face in this photo.
Of course, the house had an air of pretentiousness. After all, Salvador Dali loved to shock others: his wife is depicted as a goddess on the painted ceiling of the throne room. Yes, the Castle of Pubol has a throne room and a real throne made especially for Gala. However,they say that the future mistress of the castle wanted the decor and furnishings without frills, with a minimum of extravagant things. Through the efforts of both, we got Pubol.
However, I would say that for such a couple as Salvador and Gala Dali, their house amazes by its minimalism and laconism. The light blue bedroom of the mistress is the epitome of simplicity and elegance though not without a hint of French royal lilies.
Just do not expect to see an art exhibition of the great artist in Pubol—there are few of his works—however, do not miss one of them. This picture-prophecy occupies a huge part of the left wall in the living room and is called “The Way to Pubol.” Dali painted it shortly after acquiring the Castle of Pubol, having predicted the fate of Gala.
In the lower left corner of the painting, a recognizable female figure in black sits with her back to us: black blouse, black hair, the famous black bow in her hair. The woman stares at the castle in the distance not noticing anyone around—neither beautiful boys, nor an old peasant on a winding road to the castle. Her eyes are focused only on the castle. The golden domes of churches of her distant homeland, Russia (Gala Dali was born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova), are looming in the clouds over Pubol, and Gala’s soul, translucent, all in white, is rising to them. It appears that this painting launched the last journey of Gala leading to the Castle of Pubol.
Victor asked, “I wonder if she took offense with Dali due to this picture? After all, she wanted to live as long as possible, but he showed her an uncompromising outcome.”
It is interesting to ponder whether Gala understood that this picture
(and many others by Salvador Dali) was her true immortality…
Gala Dali was destined to live in the Castle of Pubol for 10 years. The latest painting by Salvador Dali, “The Swallow’s Tail,” was left standing on an easel. Everlasting flowers are almost in every room: on the ceiling, in the corners as the border of the Orthodox icon, or in a vase. A fountain with 14 heads of Wagner so adored by Dali is hidden in the small (like the room) shady garden.
I think Victor was most impressed by the garden because he entered it and disappeared for a good half hour. Yes, the garden is not simple. Its as if you came into another room of the castle, into a greenhouse. Dense vegetation, narrow alleyways, cozy nooks with benches, gurgling fountain, the ceiling in the form of the wonderfully blue Catalan sky, and the singing of an incredible number of birds. Have you ever been in a tropical jungle? If so, you probably remember the lively hubbub of the birds. The same is true of the garden of Pubol—a festival of birdlife. But what is most important—it does not violate the intimate, thoughtful and meditative aspect of the garden. Here, you want to wander, stand, sit, and think, so unlike the huge, spacious parks such as Versailles or Peterhof where you want more to ride a motorcycle than walk.
Could I sit here and write the posts for this travel blog? Oh, yes! I am sure Dali did not like to walk, sit, reflect, or even work in the garden; it’s not his style. But the breath of Gala is felt in every tree, path, or bench. They remember her.
Salvador Dalis famous elephants on mosquito legs continued to guard the entrance to the garden; he made them with his own hands. The dark blue Cadillac with the number 8942 rests in the garage. It became a hearse for Gala Dali. In it, her dead body was returned to the Pubol Castle, but her soul had never left. Nearby, there is a door leading into the tomb with two tombstones. The mistress of the castle buried under the right one, and no one under the left one. Salvador Dali lived another seven years and was buried not here. Why not? Another question, another mystery.
“I love Gala more than my mother, more than my father, more than Picasso, and even more than money. Gala is my muse, my genius and my life. I am nothing without Gala.” Salvador Dali
I’d like to add, “But my body will lie far away from her.”
Someone might say that you can just read on the Internet about Gala and her relationship with Dali, and save yourself the trip to Pubol. Well, today, you can read about anything in the network and not travel at all.
I have warm memories of this trip. Of course, the meaning of the complicated relationship of the famous couple did not become more understandable to me. Were they happy together? If so, for how long? Perhaps, they were meant for each other, and they met. She helped make Dali known today all over the world, and he gave her immortality.
GPS coordinates of the Pubol Castle: 42.015074, 2.984082
01/01 – 06/01 from 10am to 5pm
14/03 – 14/06 from 10am to 6pm
15/06 – 15/09 from 10am to 8pm
16/09 – 01/11 from 10am to 6pm
02/11 – 31/12 from 10am to 5pm
The castle is closed:
– 1st January and 25 December
– From 7 January until 14 March
– Every Monday except for holidays
Online tickets to Pubol, and Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres.
Photographing allowed without flash.