The town is the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí, and houses the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, a large museum designed by Dalí himself which attracts many visitors. It is also the birthplace of Narcís Monturiol, inventor of the first successful machine-powered submarine. Also born here was Mónica Naranjo, one of the best selling Spanish singers of the 1990s and 2000s.
The town's name derives from that of Ficaris, of Visigoth origins. In 1267, King James I of Aragon conceded it fuero rights, but four years later count Ponç IV of Empúries set the town on fire.
During the Spanish Civil War, it remained loyal to the Republican government, and was repeatedly bombed by the rebels. Figueres recovered starting from the 1950s, consolidating its economy around the tourism industry.
Situated in the north-east corner of Catalonia, Figueres is about 40 km (25 miles) from Girona, 140 km (87 miles) from Barcelona, 60 km (37 miles) from Perpignan, and 50 km (31 miles) from Girona-Costa Brava Airport. It is also served by its own railway station just east of the old town center.
Figueres has been connected since December 2010 to the high-speed rail network with the start of services connecting Figueres to Perpignan via LGV, allowing direct TGV services to Paris in 5 h 27 min. Connections to Madrid-Barcelona via AVE began on 8 January 2013 and the trip takes 53 min (12 min to Girona).