A Surreal Paradise
If we ever found a fascinating, eccentric and isolated paradise, than that would have to be the house of Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala, located in the small town of Port Lligat on the Mediterranean coastline called Costa Brava, Spain. The history of Dalí and Gala was tied for many decades, beginning in the year 1929 when they met and lasting right up until their deaths, almost half a century later.
Dalí was born in the town of Figueras, right on the border with France in the year 1904 with Gala born in Kazan, a town in southwest Russia, exactly 10 year earlier. They met in Paris, while Dalí was presenting his film Un chien andalou along with Luis Buñuel. Gala was at the time married to the poet Paul Eluard. Following their encounter in Paris, Gala and Paul accepted Dalí’s invitation to visit him at the beautiful village of Cadaques, located right next to the tiny fishing village of Port Lligat, where Dalí and Gala would eventually spend most of their life together.
In the year 1930, Dalí managed to buy a small fisherman hut in Port Lligat, thanks to financial support from the Viscount of Noailles, his patron at the time. The hut of only 21 square meters, without running water or electricity, would be the beginning project that would last for many decades and eventually turn into a complex and mysterious castle. Constructed out of several small huts, Dalí thought of the house as a living organism, something that changed shape and form depending on the couple´s needs at each given time. It is a big laberint of small spaces, stairs and corridors, extending to several outdoor spaces, specially designed for social purposes.
Gala played a central role in the development of the house, traveling to several surrounding villages to buy antiques to decorate the house. Her favorite flower Siempre Viva can still be found in the house, renovated when needed, which is not often due to its almost miraculous ability to survive extremely harsh conditions and lack of watering. Dali for his part took charge of designing and constructing several items for the house, such as fireplaces in different forms and shapes and many decorative items, most of them of a very surreal nature as is to be expected.
The house in Port Lligat was finished around 1971 with the outdoor swimming pool and by that time Dali had bought, as a gift to his wife, a castle in the region of Girona. She moved there shortly after and would stay for long periods, mostly in summer, making an agreement with Dalí that whenever he wanted to see her, he would have to write a letter, asking for her permission to visit.
Gala died in the year 1982 which made it impossible for Dalí to continue living in Port Lligat. He closed down the house and moved to the castle where Gala was buried and where he would spend the last years of his life, up until he was moved to place of his birth, Figueras, where he died in the year 1989.
We let Dalí have the final words, spoken like a true surrealist:
“I do not understand why, when I ask for grilled lobster in a restaurant, I’m never served a cooked telephone.”
Text: Auður Gná // Photos: iphone 6
“ When I paint, the ocean roars. Others merely paddle in their bath.” (Salvador Dalí)