History and evolution
Hostalric’s built up centre is structured in a clearly strategic emplacement: the Royal Road crosses through it and it is in the middle of a medieval Catalan road network. This location justifies the fortified nature of the village. The main purpose of the city wall was to act as a defensive belt that extended longitudinally from the hill that the castle is built on to the stream.
Hostalric’s city wall dates back to the XIV century, when the townsfolk already had a number of different services (parish church, notary, public scribe and weekly market, among others). The first documented evidence of Hostalric’s city wall comes from the 17th of January, 1364, which mentions construction and maintenance work being carried out on the wall. This confirms that the wall was originally built before this date.
During the second half of the XVII century, with the introduction of gunpowder in warfare, the first plans to reinforce the fortress were drawn up. These were clearly focused on protecting the fortress against gunpowder artillery. This reformation was gradually implemented over the XVIII century and included the demilitarisation of the village, the city wall and its buildings becoming residential houses.
In 1873, permission was sought for the first time to build balconies, windows and terraces. This allowed people to have a terrace, or, in some cases, a gallery at the rear of the house, which was at the same level as the ground floor. A unit could be built underneath, right next to the road, due to the sloped ground. In years to come, these units would become work spaces, workshops and garages.
Few architectural elements from before the XIX century remain in the historical centre, because the French demolished almost the entire village in 1809. Some military inscriptions from the old houses are still visible along the Carrer Major (1854): “capitán” (captain), “coronel” (colonel), “oficial” (officer) and “jefe” (commander). This is where the the officers from the Hostalric fortress’ garrison resided temporarily.
With the desire to structure and standardize the city wall, a transformation process began, reconditioning it as a “utilitarian wall”: the wall became the rear facade of the line of buildings of the precinct. This process was completed between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s.
The first interventions focused on repairing the wall’s exterior parameters and improving access to the parapet walk, which goes across the wall’s highest point.