Did you know that Salvador Dalí was from the Costa Brava? For some bizarre reason I always thought he was South American. (Which is especially embarrassing because I studied Art History at college.) (I failed, by the way. In case you were wondering.)
But nope, Dalí was from Figueres, a pretty old town on the east coast of Catalonia. He was born there, he died there, and his body is actually buried in a crypt inside his museum.
And make no mistake, this is 100% his museum. Dalí was involved in the design from beginning to end, and he definitely put his own unique stamp on it!
“I want my museum to be a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be a totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream.”
– Salvador Dalí
THE SALVADOR DALÍ THEATRE-MUSEUM
The Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum opened in 1974, built on the remains of the old town theatre which burnt down in the Spanish Civil War.
The new building looks like a crazy palace from of an old sci-fi film. The terracotta walls are studded with yellow bread-roll shaped stones, and they’re topped by a series of giant eggs. (Yep, you heard me.)
Inside, the main courtyard is where the audience would have sat in the original theatre. Now it’s home to Dalí’s Rainy Taxi (a literal taxi with rain falling inside) and surrounded by gold-coloured mannequins (which apparently are meant to represent the Oscars Dalí thought he should have won for this film work).
The glass wall and domed ceiling you can see right behind the taxi are where the stage would have been. Dalí is buried in the crypt below this “stage”.
You won’t find a lot of Dalí’s most famous art pieces here (no melted clocks I’m afraid!), but because it was mostly curated by the man himself, the pieces chosen are more personal somehow. And it’s not just paintings either, there are murals, sculptures, photos, and even a whole room installation designed by Dalí!
WHY I’D RECOMMEND BOOKING A TOUR GUIDE
I struggle a bit with guided tours sometimes, as I tend to switch off after a while. But I honestly don’t think I’d have enjoyed the Dalí Theatre-Museum half as much without a proper guide.
I think we can all agree that Dalí was a bit mad. A genius and supremely talented, but also a bit mad. (It’s a fine line after all!)
His art is such a jumble of references, metaphors and hidden meanings, that the pieces are almost impossible to decipher unless you’re a true Dalí expert.
Now I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not a Dalí expert. (Just ask my Art History teacher). Without our lovely guide’s help, there is absolutely no way that I would have noticed half the things she pointed out to us!
IMPORTANT: The Dalí Theatre-Museum itself only offers guided tours at night-time. If you’d like a day guide, you’ll have to book one privately.
Make sure you buy a ticket that includes entry to the moving jewellery exhibition!
Dalí created this incredible collection of art made from gold and precious jewels, most of which also included mechanical movement that makes the piece seem “alive”. From a beating heart made of rubies, to fantastical animals and religious symbols, they’re all incredibly delicate and utterly stunning.
Unfortunately it’s impossible to fix the mechanics without disassembling the pieces, so a lot of these sculptures have been “killed”. However, most of these “dead” pieces are displayed alongside a video showing what the original movement would have looked like.
The jewellery exhibition is housed in a separate area to the main museum. Once you exit the Dalí Theatre-Museum, turn right, and it’s the unmarked doorway on the corner of the main road, manned by a security guard.
LUNCH AT DALÍ’S FAVOURITE HOTEL
The best way to end your morning at the Dalí Theatre-Museum? Lunch at Dalí’s favourite restaurant in Figueres!
Turn left as you exit the Museum, and walk down the street until you find the peachy-coloured Duran Hotel. Inside, the walls are covered in letters and photos from (and of) Dalí.
You can even pre-book the same room where Dali used to eat his dinner!
The main dining room is beautiful: all warm wood, glass, and traditional ceramics, and the food is absolutely delicious. We had a selection of Catalan dishes from the daily lunch menu, which included things like cold asparagus soup, crispy canneloni, and steak with pepper sauce.
You can’t take bags in, but there’s a free cloakroom at the entrance.
It’s best to pre-buy tickets online as all the info I can find says you’re otherwise likely to be waiting in a long queue.
Keep in mind that the Dalí Theatre-Museum is frequently closed on a Monday, so make sure you check the dates before you head off.
READ MORE: 21 Things To Do, See and Eat in Costa Brava
*My trip to Costa Brava was sponsored by Jet2 Holidays.