The walled enclosure of the Vila Vella (Old Town Centre)
Declared a national artistic monument in 1931, the walled enclosure of Vila Vella is the town’s emblem. It is currently the only example of a fortified mediaeval town that still exists on the Catalan coast. Built at the end of the 12th century, very little of this period is, in fact, preserved. Today, all that can be seen are the diverse reforms, in particular those that were carried out at the end of the 14th century and during the 18th century, respectively. With embattled walls, almost all the original perimeter area is preserved. The stretch of wall shows four big towers and three cylindrical towers finished off with machicolation. The best known towers are the Jonàs tower, which overlooks the bay; the Torre de les Hores (The Tower of the Hours), at the entrance to the parade ground, which gets its name as it was the only place in which there was a public clock, and the Torre d’es Codolar, also known as the Homage Tower, which overlooks the Platja d’es Codolar. At the highest point of Vila Vella, there had been a castle. Which consisted of a watchtower and a rectangular area. It is no longer there, as the current lighthouse was built where it used to stand. The interior of Vila Vella is a charming area with narrow streets paved with cobbles.
You can still enjoy the charm of many large Gothic windows, which are beautifully decorated. At its time of greatest splendour (15th century), Vila Vella had some eight houses. Most of the houses used the city walls as their back wall. From the 16th century, the town started to spread outside the walls. The first buildings were built in the Sa Roqueta district, following the old highroad. We should point out the magnificent voussoir portal that leads into Vila vella through the parade ground.
Old Sant Vicenç church, inside Vila Vella, is particularly worthy of a mention. This late Gothic church was built in the 15th century on top of the old Romanesque church, recently discovered and dating back to the 11th-12th centuries. Facing north-south and in a privileged position over a fifty metre cliff, its original appearance must have been most impressive. It had a single nave, a polygonal chevet with three stretches of wall accompanied by a sacristy and a side chapel like an arm off the transept to the west; on the east side it is likely that the space contained a row of three chapels. Currently, on the apse and the sacristy still have their roof. In the chevet, the pointed vault is suspended by six ribs that come together in the point of the vault, decorated with the image of Sant Viçenc. Remains of a Galilean staircase have been found at the entrance. In one of the ribs of the left small apse, there is a chapel dedicated to Sant Joan Baptista.