We visit one of the most beautiful towns in Bajo Ampurdán: Pals, the Gothic town of Radio Liberty. Surrounded by rice fields, even today it retains all the charm of small medieval towns. Pals was a manor of the Count of Barcelona for centuries and its history is full of stories, curious anecdotes and incredible stories.
Pals is the place that fell in love with the writer Josep Pla. But there have been many who over the centuries found in this town the ideal place for their purposes, which have been many and varied, everything is said in passing.
From its seven feudal women, through the legend of Christopher Columbus leaving Pals for the Americas, to its anti-communist radio station, financed by the CIA for years. Pals is one of those places that cannot be missing from the photographic archive of any self-respecting traveller.
A little history
It is believed to have Roman origin, although there are no traces. Only the name, Pals, in honor of Pallas Athena; although it may come from the Latin palusmarshy place.
The first mention of the town of Pals is found in the year 889 in an allusion to his castle, Mont-Áspre. It also appears in donation documents made by King Odon I of France and by Ramón Borell and Ermessenda, counts of Barcelona and feudal lords of these lands for centuries.
Pals was involved in several medieval warslike the one that began as a peasant revolt and culminated in the Catalan civil war against Juan II in 1482. And already in 1501, with Fernando el Católico, Pals was constituted as a town with its own tributary powers.
A legend that the locals like to tell is that Christopher Columbus did not set sail for America from Palos de la Frontera, he did so from here, from the town of Pals.
The anti-communist station
Now we want to tell you a very curious part of its history. During the last years of the 20th century, this small town on the Costa Brava starred in one of the most curious stories that can be found on the Iberian Peninsula.
In the midst of the Cold War, the one that confronted the two great world powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, the american secret services bought a vast extension of municipal land.
The objective was to install a radio station with propaganda content against the communist bloc. The first broadcast was made on March 23, 1959. And the first radio programs of this station arrived canned by plane from Munich, where the newsroom was located.
Radio Liberty station remained under CIA control until 1973. President Jimmy Carter gave it a new impetus as a propaganda station, and it was later known as one of “Reagan’s microphones” because of the significant funds he endowed it with.
With the subsequent democratization of the Russian government and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Radio Liberty left behind its influence during the Cold War. Finally, stopped broadcasting in May 2001, and in 2006 its huge antennas were pulled down. Pals was known forever as the Gothic town of Radio Liberty.
A walk through the gothic village of Radio Liberty
Pals is like a time capsule. Strolling through its streets becomes a trip to the past. The entire tour of the Gothic town of Radio Liberty has something to tell. In its corners, in its semicircular arches, its pointed windows, the remains of its wall, its wells and its stone balconies.
Although the many wars to which it was forced destroyed part of the heritage, a magnificent reconstruction carried out in the Gothic area of Pals in the last century allows you to soak up history on this trip.
The 15 meter high Romanesque tower of the castle, the Torre de las Horas and its extraordinary Visigothic tombs are still preserved. You have to go to the Josep Pla viewpoint to admire the Fabulous panoramic views of the Bajo Ampurdán plain and the Medes Islands in the background.
Pals is not worth one visit, but a hundred visits, because its location offers the possibility of seeing one of the most beautiful and unforgettable landscapes in the country.
Y a must see is also its church, a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque art, built with part of the stone of the original castle. A gothic jewel with which the writer Josep Pla fell in love a hundred times.