At the Salvador Dali museums in Costa Brava, nothing is what it seems at first sight. The works of the great master first grab your attention with their intriguing appearance, then tease you with their cunning metaphors and finally tempt you to imagine a surreal world, where no boundaries exist and where everything is possible. Strolling through the Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, I stopped for a moment and wondered what it would be like to peek into the mind of Salvador Dali; the brilliant mind that created these fascinating masterpieces. I thought about the movie, “Being John Malkovich”, in which a group of friends discover a secret door that leads directly into the mind of John Malkovich. They soon conduct tours and guests are able to go on a stroll through the famous actor’s mind. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a similar tour through Dali’s mind were possible? To find out, I visited the three Dali museums or the Dali Triangle – the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres, the Casa Dalí in Port Lligat and the Gala-Dalí Castle in Púbol – dedicated to the life and work of Salvador Dalí.

Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres.

The museums of the Dalí Triangle

Dalí Theatre Museum

Dalí joined the Surrealism movement in 1929 and quickly became the movement’s biggest champion. His highly imaginative, surrealistic works never fail to fascinate. They make you stare and think. Seamlessly blending many artistic styles, ranging from classic to avant-garde, with his own eccentricity, Dalí created provocative pieces of art. Questions cropped up in my mind as I walked through the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres (map). Why are there eggs on the roof, and why is it raining inside the Cadillac? Why are the watches in his most famous piece, “The Persistence of Memory”, melting? It made me want to learn more about the life of Salvador Dalí.

The Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres, with the eggs on the roof.
The Cadillac – it rains inside the Cadillac at the flip of a switch.
A two-in-one painting depicting a nude Gala (Dali’s wife) and Abraham Lincoln.
A tribute to the famous American actress, Mae West.
The Palace of the Air ceiling painting.
The Dalí Theatre Museum has a separate section dedicated to Dali’s jewels. This heart-shaped piece features a beating heart!
The main entrance of the Dali Theatre & Museum in Figueres.

Salvador Dalí’s home, Casa Dalí, in Port Lligat

So, who was Salvador Dalí? He was obviously an eccentric, fun-loving character who saw every day scenes through different lenses. Who or what inspired him and what motivated him to create these ingenious works of art? I found many answers in the Biography room at the Dalí Theatre Museum but I got to learn a bit more about his personal life during our visit to the Casa Dalí in Port Lligat (map) the following day. We were lucky to have Antoni Pitxot, a former apprentice of the great master and a painter himself, guide us through Dalí’s former residence. Mr. Pitxot wowed us with his lovely personal accounts of what it was like to work and live with Salvador Dalí.

The entrance to the Casa Dali museum in Port Lligat.
Dalí’s bedroom.
Colourful glass bottles in the form of birds.
Antoni Pixtot wows us with his personal accounts.

Mr. Pitxot took us on a tour around the house and filled his commentary with personal anecdotes. He sat in the chair he used to sit in as a young apprentice and told us fascinating stories about the flamboyant Dalí, his love for his wife and muse, Gala, his temperamental character, and his penchant for practical jokes. He showed us Dalí’s studio and his little study. The latter, with its photo-covered walls, was especially insightful.

Dali’s favourite chair.
Dalí’s personal photos in his study
A painting of Dalí with his wife Gala.

The Milky Way

Dalí settled in the small hamlet of Port Lligat because he fell in love with the ethereal light that reflected off the water of the bay. By the clever use of mirrors, he could lie in bed and enjoy the views of the harbour. He built a gorgeous path along the coast and called it the ‘Milky Way’. He and his wife, Gala, would dress in white cloaks and walk down this path in the moonlight to stare out to the harbour and breathe the lavender-infused air.

The Milky Way at Casa Dalí.
Mr. Pitxot tells us about Dalí’s favourite seat at the end of the ‘Milky Way’.

Read about the ultimate road trip around the best places in Costa Brava


Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol

Later that day, we continued on to the Gala Dalí Castle in the village of Púbol (map), a gorgeous medieval town in Costa Brava.

Dalí’s car at the Gala Dalí Castle.
The Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol.
The beautiful ceiling inside the castle.
Dalí worshipped Gala and quite literally placed her on a throne.
Gala and Dalí spent a lot of time in the beautiful gardens.
An elephant in the garden. Elephants were a constant theme in the works of Dalí.

I certainly got to know quite a bit more about Salvador Dalí by visiting his house in Port Lligat and the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol. Listening to Mr. Pitxot’s stories was a wonderful experience and afforded us a precious peek into Dalí’s life.

If you find yourself wandering around the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres with many of the same questions in your mind, I highly recommend making a reservation for a visit to the Casa Dalí in Port Lligat and the Gala Dali Castle in Púbol. It may not be a tour through the mind of Salvador Dalí a lá ‘Being John Malkovich’ but visiting these Dali Museums just might answer some of your questions about this flamboyant, mysterious, master of surrealism.

Read other Velvet Escape posts on Costa Brava.

24 Responses

  • Unfortunately I did not visit Gala’s Castle. I did make it to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which was worth the visit, but I did not find the rest of that city that charming.

    I made it to El Bulli that trip, which was the highlight of my year – it surpassed what I had imagined. Also had a 3-hour lunch at Arzak and Elena, the chef gave me a private tour of the kitchen (I think they mistook me for a restaurant critic because I was taking notes: just another benefit of blogging). I enjoyed San Sebastian, especially how the entire town comes out in the evening to socialize, walk and eat pintxos. I admire Spaniards’ lifestyle.

    I’ll make it to the Dali museum in Florida one of these days — not quite the same as being inside his house, though.

  • Hi Esme,
    Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely check it out next time I’m in Berlin. Did you also visit Gala’s Castle in Pubol? The castle completes the Dali Triangle in Costa Brava (the museum in Figueres, the house in Port Lligat and the castle in Pubol). Glad to hear that you enjoyed my talk. Woohoo! 🙂 Thanks so much.


  • Hi —

    Excellent post on my all-time favorite museum (if you like them with a sense of humor, I recommend the DDR in Berlin). I knew I was in for a treat when I spied the giant eggs on the roof.

    Now I’m kicking myself for not having visited Dali’s home.

    — Esme

    p.s. Watched your talk video this weekend. I’m inspired.

  • This is my absolute favorite museum! It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The installation pieces are fantastic, but the paintings are equally as awesome. Great gift shop too!

  • […] Read the post: “Being Salvador Dalí“. […]

  • The Persistence of Memory – this poster reminds me of my uni days in the UK, when I first got acquainted with the works of Dali. I am a big fan. It’s interesting that his bedroom is as flamboyant as him – I would have expected nothing less. Easy to think how he might have dreamt those bizarre images, lying in that bed;) Mr. Pixtot sounds like a rocking guy – so how old was he, and how old was Dali when he worked with him?

  • I love this! I’m kind of bummed to see from Robbie’s post that the museum itself is not as wonderful as this blog is, but since I am a huge Dali fan it’s still on my bucket list.

  • Midnight in Paris is certainly on my list of movies to see. Thanks for the tip Vera.


  • Fantastic! But then isn’t he always? Woody Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris has a very funny take on Salvador Dali. And have you seen the Dali museum in St. Petersburg Florida? Nothing like this look into his life, of course, but a terrific collection. Thanks so much for the pictures and narrative about one of my favorite odd ball characters. (and he was brilliant under all that rebelliousness!)

  • You’re welcome Sid! There’s definitely inspiration in eccentricity and flamboyance! 🙂


  • Fantastic article and great pictures! thank you very much for sharing them. I’m a huge fan of Salvador Dali. He’s one of the most importat artist of XX century and personally, I’ve learned a lot from his technique.

  • Thank you Rob! We were very privileged to have the entire Dali Theatre Museum to ourselves during our visit. We could take our time admiring the art and reading about his life. Fascinating! And it was a huge honour to have Mr. Pixtot guide us around Casa Dalí. His personal stories were priceless.


  • great great Article keith!
    I love Dali and it seems i learned more about the museum and Dali via your article then when i was there myself (too crowded i guess)

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