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Discover Portbou by Heinz Duthel

Portbou is located in Catalonia

It is located near the French border in the Costa Brava region, and frequently serves as a dropping off point for SNCF trains coming from Cerbère

in France.

Portbou was a small but important point for the republicans during the Spanish Civil War, as it was one of the few places from where they could get

supplies from abroad.

Portbou is also the site where German philosopher Walter Benjamin committed suicide and was buried in 1940. There is a monument in his honor, by

Dani Karavan.

Portbou is a break-of-gauge station. It contains a major rail freight transfer facility, and a large passenger station built to support customs and

immigration. The customs and immigation facilities are no longer required as both France and Spain are Schengen Area members.

A pair of railway tunnels connect Portbou with Cerbère in France. One tunnel contains a standard gauge track, and one an Iberian gauge track. Local

Spanish trains either terminate at Portbou or run through to Cerbère, where the Iberian gauge tracks ends, and French trains either terminate at

Cerbère or continue to Portbou. Portbou has a TALGO Automatic Track Gauge Changeover System facility, for use by through trains between France and


The road connection to Cerbère in France is via the Coll dels Balitres (163 m). This route is longer (7 km) than the rail route (1.8 km).

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