The Dalí Theatre-Museum and Coastal Cadaqués

Published on 8 October 2022 at 12:17

On our last full day in Spain we took a bus tour to the Dalí Theatre-Museum and the seaside town of Cadaqués. Of course I had heard of Salvador Dalí, but didn't really know much about him. I recognized his piece with the melting clocks, which Courtney told me is called The Persistence of Memory. She was much more familiar with him than I was. She told me some of the things were going to be odd, but I remember seeing works of his at the museum at Montserrat, and those weren't that strange.

On the way to Figueres, the town where Dalí grew up and established the theatre-museum, our guide Cam told us a lot about Dalí's early life and the Surrealist art movement. We learned that Dalí was a spoiled boy, but also that he was haunted by being given the same name as his older brother, who died before Dalí was born. His mother died when he was 16, and his father married his aunt. As a young man he intentionally got kicked out of school and began to experiment with Futurism, Impressionism, Cubism, and finally Surrealism. I did find it interesting to learn that the woman he spent his life with, Gala, had originally been married to someone else and left her husband to be with Dalí as a life partner, manager, and artistic collaborator. As we walked up to the side of the building, Cam told us that the odd knobs we saw all over the exterior of the theatre were actually bread with three knots for the trinity of fame, money, and Gala in Dalí's life. 


Once inside, we saw lots of strange things scattered about, from gold mannequins arranged several floors high in the ring of the outdoor courtyard, to a ceiling with the soles of two people's feet as the central focus. Cam had shown us pictures of this one before we arrived, so I knew that the feet belonged to Dalí and Gala, a portrait of the two of them together from underneath. We saw a lot of interesting pieces that played with perspective, including the famous "Mae West room," where you have to climb a ladder and look through a lens and then all of the random-looking bits (like the giant lips and nose with lit-up nostrils) on the floor come together to make the actress's face! There was also a cool piece that looked like the back of a woman leaning naked out of a window when you were close to it, but when you stood on the opposite side of the hall and looked again, it turned out to be a portrait of Abraham Lincoln! There were some really odd things scattered about that still don't make much sense to me, but we had a great time running around and experiencing all of it. One of my favorite displays was a series of illustrations that takes up a whole room dedicated to Dante's Inferno. 

Gala and Dalí collaboration 

Main gallery 

Mae West room

Dalí and Gala from below

Dalí's Self-Portrait 

The Persistence of Memory

Knotted bread

Dalí illustrated Dante's Inferno

Dalí's Picasso

Salvador Dalí

After the Theatre-Museum, we headed to the small seaside town of Cadaqués, where Cam pointed out that you could see the French shore from certain spots in the hills, and a large rectangular rock that protrudes from the sea and was one of the inspirations for Dalí. Dali's family had a summer home in Cadaqués and that's also where he had his first art studio.  

Instead of continuing on to Dalí's home, Courtney and I decided to stay behind and explore the town. We had tapas and cava at a beachfront bar and wandered in and out of several quaint shops with beautiful locally-made clothes, accessories, and pottery. We got a snack and some coffee right before meeting back up with the bus and returning to Barcelona. 

After a 2 1/2 hour bus trip back to Barcelona, we ended up at the Arc de Triomf, which was built as the main access to the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. We took some photos and wandered back to Plaza Catalunya, which was super full of people! We wandered into the Gothic Quarter (only a few blocks, can't risk getting totally lost on your last night), before heading back on the metro. When we got back to our hotel, we walked around the corner to the neighborhood restaurant with the perfect Sangria de Cava. We had delicious steaks and topped off our meal with complimentary shots of Limoncello. We loved that little place!

Arc de Triomf