Salvador Dalí (Part 4): Cadaqués and Portlligat

I can’t believe it. The languid, unfocused, erratic, desultory, chaotic, haphazard Covetotop has produced nothing less than 4 posts in a row about one single, certain, focused, fixed, flat, frozen, hard-and-fast theme …

I am very worried.

I think I need to refresh my discombobulated mind with the cool marine breeze.

I think I need an urgent dose of Mediterranean sun before I become one of those serious serial bloggers.

I think I’m going to Cadaqués …

Cadaqués Costa Brava

Cadaqués is 35 kilometers (21 miles, more or less) and a lot of twisting curves away from my previous post; I mean, from Figueres.

Cadaqués houses

It is the typical ultra-white Mediterranean fishing village with flower-covered-houses and labyrinthical streets.

white Mediterranean house

Mediterranean house in Portlligat

There is an old casino (cafeteria) in Cadaqués, where locals drink coffee and talk. Whenever they add rum to their coffees, they stop talking, and start to sing traditional songs called “havaneres”.

Cafetería Cadaqués

From time to time, (in summer, specially), dreadful pirates who drink Coca Cola and sing rap disembark and invade the old casino.

Cadaqués cruises

Apart from some sporadic invasions, Cadaqués has remained a very agreeable village for centuries. Historically, this isolated village has been a magical electromagnet whose cosmo-magnetic field has attracted art, talent and creativity.

beach of Cadaqués

Artists like Rene Magritte, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Marc Chagall or David Hockney; writers like Josep Pla, Federico García Lorca, Thomas Mann or Gabriel García Márquez; filmmakers like Luis Buñuel or Walt Disney; musicians like Pau Casals, John Cage (he was also a painter) or even an eccentric “violinist” called Albert Einstein (he was also a physicist) … All of them spent longer or shorter periods of happy time creating awesome things under the sun of Cadaqués.


Oh, yes, Pablo Picasso was here too, in the summer of 1910, but this post isn’t about Picasso. It is about Dalí.

Picasso is a communist. Neither am I” (Dalí)

September in Cadaqués

Dalí wasn’t a tourist in Cadaqués. He lived in Cadaqués. He painted in Cadaqués. He painted Cadaqués.

As a kid, Dalí spent summers here in the family house, where he discovered the joy of painting: “I have had a wonderful time, as always, in this ideal and fantastic village of Cadaqués; there, at the side of the Latin sea, I have quenched my desire for light and color; I have spent the sultry summer days, painting like mad, trying to translate the incomparable beauty of the sea and sun-beaten shore.”

Dalí´s sister Ana María in a window, looking at the bay of Cadaqués … What a painting! If you want to see this masterpiece in full resolution, you either visit the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid or click this link.

The book “Obres de Museu” (edited by Parsifal Edicions)- was written by another fellow empordanian genius, named Josep Pla, and was illustrated by his friend Salvador Dalí. I’ll talk about this book después …

Mediterranean houses

In modern times Cadaqués still magnetizes lots of talent and beauty (including Covetotop himself). Take for example its symphonic orchestra. It might sound a little bit surprising that such a little and secluded fishing village could have such an awesome symphonic orchestra, but, as you can guess, surrealism is still alive in Cadaqués … The orchestra is amazing. I have some CDs of it, like the one you can see in the pic below. It includes a charming orchestral piece named “Sortilegis”, written by a superb local (born in Girona) composer: Xavier Montsaltvatge (1912-2002)

Cadaqués Orchestra

One of the Cadaqués Orchestra regular directors, the great Sir Neville Marriner, said: “Every country should have an orchestra as lively and passionate as the Cadaqués Orchestra. The Mediterranean origin and cosmopolitan flavour make the Cadaqués Orchestra unique

Between Cadaqués and Portlligat

I am not a Surrealist; I am Surrealism. Surrealism is not a party or a label; it is a state of mind, unique, to each his own, that can be affected by no party line, taboo, or morality. It is the total freedom to be and the right to absolute dreaming” (Dalí)

Dalí in Portlligat

The time has come to visit our friend Dalí and his beloved wife Gala in Portlligat.

Gala and Salvador Dalí in Portlligat

Portlligat is just fifteen minutes away (walking) from Cadaqués, at the other side of the cemetery. It is one of the driest, mineral and planetary places on the Earth. Mornings bring a wild and bitter happiness, fiercely analytical and structural; sunsets are ghoulishly sad; the bright and lively olive trees metamorphose in a still lead grey. The morning breeze draws smiles of happy small waves on the waters: in the afternoon, as the bay is nearly like a lake due to the islets, water is so calm that it often reflects the dramas of the crepuscular sky” (“The Secret life of Salvador Dalí”, by Dalí)

Portlligat cove

The house in Portlligat was Dalí’s only fixed residence from 1930 until 1982, when his beloved wife Gala died. Then he moved to the Púbol Castle.

As you can imagine, Dalí’s house in Portlligat is very surrealistic.

Dalí’s house in Portlligat

As you can imagine, Dalí´s house in Portlligat is always surrounded by fans and tourists willing to visit it (reservations must always be made in advance)

Tourists in Portlligat

As you can imagine (if you have read my previous posts about Dalí), “public communication of the images taken inside the Dalí museums needs an authorization and rights clearance” … Consequently, I only post exterior views of the crazy house of Dalí in Portlligat, like this one (Dalí planted a cypress-tree within a boat, just in front of his house):

cypress within a boat by Dalí

Local fishermen perhaps thought that their neighbor Don Salvador was a little mad. Specially taking into account that whenever they painted their fishing boats, Don Salvador Dalí asked them to clean their brushes on his door … just for the sake of abstract art …

Door Portlligat

There are still some fishermen working in Portlligat, but I don’t know where do they clean their brushes today  …

Portlligat fishermen

A la casa hi ha un taller, estret i de sostre molt alt, que és on Dalí treballa. És encarat al nord i té uns finestrals alts” (Obres de Museu, Josep Pla)

Dalí's house in Portlligat

Dalí's house

As I told you before, I won’t publish interior views of Dalí’s house. But don’t worry. Every cloud has a silver lining. Here below you have some paragraphs written by Josep Pla about the surrealistic house of his friend Dalí. One single paragraph by Mr. Josep Pla is worth ten thousand photos posted by Covetotop:

The decoration of the house is surprising, extraordinary. Perhaps the most accurate adjective would be: never-before-seen. I do not think that there is anything like it, in this country or in any other one. The decoration of houses is always the same, according to the social condition of those who live in them: the bourgeoisie, the petite bourgeoisie … It is the common, constant place. They do not rack their brains over it. Dalí’s house is completely unexpected. A precise, exact description should be made of it. It contains nothing more than memories, obsessions. The fixed ideas of its owners. There is nothing traditional, nor inherited, nor repeated, nor copied here. Everything is indecipherable personal mythology. There are many things whose meaning is only known by the owners. There are art works (by the painter), Russian things (of Mrs. Gala), stuffed animals, staircases of geological walls going up and down, books (strange for such people), the commonplace and the refined, etc.” (excerpt from “Obres de Museu”, written by Josep Pla and illustrated by Salvador Dalí)

Dalí Museum Portlligat

Today the dream-house of Salvador Dalí and his wife, Gala, is a museum.

The bay of Portlligat was not only their home during lots of happy years. It was an inextinguishable source of inspiration and the background landscape for some of the absolute masterpieces painted by Dalí, like…
Saint John of The Cross (Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum, Glasgow, Scotland, UK)

The Madonna of Portlligat (Fukukoka Art Museum, Fukukoka, Japan)

The Sacrament of The Last Supper (National Gallery Of Art, Washington DC, USA)

Dalí's boat

Wandering through this “driest, mineral and planetary” landscape, in one of those very strange days when there are no people other than myself around here …

“… when the bay is nearly like a lake …”

… when “the water is so calm that it often reflects the dramas of the crepuscular sky” …

Portlligat cove in Autumn

… when the marine breeze seems to whisper sweet words …

Gala and Dalí in Portlligat

… I can hear the echoes of two distant happy voices … a male, a female … one says something like “I love you” … the other one responds something like “I love you, too” … then laughter …

House of Dalí and Gala

Here, in this link, you have a map (.pdf archive, from the Generalitat de Catalunya) of Cadaqués, Portlligat and the whole Cape Creus Natural Park. It is a wonderful place. The great Covetotop has produced quite a few universally acclaimed posts about this little paradise, including: The Romanesque Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, the “Paratge de Tudela” (the secret source of inspiration of Salvador Dalí), the romantic and mythological Orpheus’ Cape … etc. 


About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
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20 Responses to Salvador Dalí (Part 4): Cadaqués and Portlligat

  1. As always, your blog postings offer a delightful mini-vacation, especially on a cold winter’s day in Northern California. Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Salvador Dalí, Paris | Treasures of Europe

  3. Trish says:

    You’ve now got me interested in Dalí’s work, especially those paintings in Portlligat, and that painting of Cadaquès. I spent an afternoon looking at these places, and wish I was there now. My favourite photo of this post is the woman in yellow facing the red wall. It made me stop and look again and again.

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you, Trish! Dalí is certainly a very interesting painter, once you look at his works patiently ☺ The woman in yellow facing the red wall and the Picasso portrait is my favorite shot! I publish it whenever I talk about Picasso …

  4. Sarah says:

    The blue color of the doors – love it! Also love how Dali had the paint brushes cleaned on his door. So eccentrically artsy. These Mediterranean fishing villages are calling my name…someday, I hope to answer. 🙂

  5. Covetotop, another fine article. We are going to be going to this region (Sant Pere de Rodes) sometime in the first week of June. Would we be able to meet you in the area? It would be so nice to put a face to a familiar name.

  6. a ferreira says:

    It’s a fantastic sequence of posts, Covetotop, thank you! 🙂
    And that picture of Picasso as the old woman’s mirror image: absolutely remarkable!

    A tree in a boat?
    How weird (that’s the first thought). No, not weird, just unusual (second thought). No, not just unusual, surprising (third thought). And finally: absolutely extraordinary! It’s a living, ever-changing, four-dimensional masterpiece! There are surely different interpretations about its implicit meaning(s), I wonder if Dalí wrote anything on the subject?

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you very much for your nice comment, “A Ferreira”! 🙂 In fact, the cypress in the boat is a very shocking view when you arrive to Dalí’s house. I don’t remember anything wrote by Dalí about this “thing”. All I know is that Dalí was obsessed with cypress trees; they were some kind of birth-and-death representations for him. The “thing” in Portlligat was made in 1939 (if I am not wrong).

      • Artisan says:

        In reality, artists are probably nor concerned about what their work may or may not implicitly mean to others, they just instinctively express themselves. It’s the observers, be them in admiration, curiosity or – unfortunately, some – in envy, that try to interpret and decode the artist’s expression.
        I find this “thing” to be very thought provocative, firstly in pure terms of origin and purpose (as the boat is made out of wood), but most of all in the complex realm of complementary interdependent qualities, between apparently unrelated, disconnected and even opposite features – being that man-nature, sea-land, inertia-steadiness, horizontal-vertical are some of the simplest that come to my mind.
        I had never seen this “piece” before and what I can say is that it has since become my very favorite among the Dalí’s I know! 🙂 Thank you! 🙂

      • Covetotop says:

        No doubt. The comment above has been made by an Artist. Thank you Ana. Your participation always makes this blog better. I hope everything is going ok.

  7. Another enjoyable educational trip – thanks, Covetotop!

  8. Went there a couple of years ago on a very very wet day, when we got back to Rosas, the town was mostly underwater. Still enjoyed my visit though.

  9. Beautiful article! Cadaques is such a magic place to visit and enjoy… delightful! x

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you very much! Cadaqués is certainly an amazing place; the village and the whole Cap de Creus compound one of the most beautiful corners of the Mediterranean realm.

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