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40km (25 miles) S of Barcelona, 596km (370 miles) E of Madrid

Sitges is one of the most popular resorts of southern Europe, the brightest spot on the Costa Dorada. It's especially crowded in summer, mostly with affluent young northern Europeans, many of them gay. For years the resort drew largely prosperous middle-class industrialists from Barcelona, but those staid days have gone; Sitges is as swinging today as Benidorm and Torremolinos down the coast.

Sitges has long been known as a city of culture, thanks in part to resident artist, playwright, and bohemian mystic Santiago Rusiñol. The 19th-century modernismo (aka modernisme) movement began largely at Sitges, and the town remained the scene of artistic encounters and demonstrations long after the movement waned. Sitges continued as a resort of artists, attracting such giants as Salvador Dalí and poet Federico García Lorca. The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) erased what has come to be called the "Golden Age" of Sitges. Although other artists and writers arrived in the decades to follow, none had the name or the impact of those who had gone before.