The Roman amphitheatre is one of the most famous and iconic monuments in Tarragona, so much so that is was practically the only thing I saw when I first visited!
It’s one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the Iberian Peninsula and what’s really cool is that they dedicate one week a year to recreating what the theatre was like back in Roman times.
During this event (it’s called Tarraco Viva), there are re-enactments of gladiator battles and an expert troupe of Italian actors ve explain and interpret the fights.
The sensation is like living back in ancient Roman times and besides being a really wonderful spectacle, it’s also quite interesting. “We don’t want this just to be a spectacle, we want the public to understand the details: the reasons behind the costumes and the fights…we don’t want it to just be a fight, we want to make history come alive,” was more or less what the organizers told us. Well, they sure hit the mark. It’s a truly amazing sight!
Tarragona Cathedral was built in 1171, during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. It lies on the ruins of a mosque, a Visigoth Cathedral and what was once the Temple of Augustus dedicated to a Roman imperial cult. The style corresponds to the period of transition between Romanesque and Gothic.
The main facade has three doors, which correspond to the three halls of the church. The central and principal door is Gothic while the sides doors are Romanesque. Outside, there are statues of apostles and prophets adorning the façade. The mullion door bears the image of the Virgin and it’s a joy to watching the color of the stone change with the sunlight.
The Diocesan Museum of Tarragona was placed inside in 1911 and has a collection of about six thousand pieces, of which about three hundred and fifty are currently on display. There is also a 15th-century altarpiece, the Tomb of the Archbishop located on the main altar, and the Chapel of St. Mary from the 14th century (though I can’t comment on this, because it was closed when I went). I’ll definitely be back so I’ll tell you next time!
Pont del Diable is the popular Spanish name of the Roman aqueduct of Tarragona, capitol of the province of the same name.
The aqueduct is found 3km from the city and brought fresh water from the Francoli River. It’s a grandiose structure from the era of Trajan and has two levels of arches. The lower level has 31 arches and measures 63 meters in length, while the upper lever consists of 25 arches and measures 217 meters in length.
On the A-7 highway, there’s a place where you can park on either side of the highway and then reach the aqueduct by foot. It’s a nice walk and a worthwhile one at that. The Aqueduct of Tarragona was declared a National Historical Monument in 1905.
The Aqueduct of Tarragona was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1905.
The Balcony of the Mediterranean is a 23-meter cliff at the far end of the Rambla Nova of Tarragona and is lined by an iron railing.
It is a very dear place to citizens of Tarragona, who converge there to "tocar ferro" (literally, touch the iron).
The rail has a distinctive shape and is said to bring luck to anyone who touches it. From there, you can enjoy a magnificent view of Miracle beach and the Mediterranean Sea.
When I arrived in Tarragona , one of my first visits was the History Museum and the National Museum of Archaeology, because if there’s one thing I like when I travel, it’s to learn about the history. When I visited, I entered to take a look around and was sincerely received by a couple of young ladies, one of whom was a professor of History. Being both teachers, they noticed my natural curiosity and we started a very warm but instructive conversation, exchanging ideas and knowledge of our areas. They gave me several pamphlets and accompanied me to the beginning of the visit; we walked through, admiring each exhibit and reading what we could about what we were seeing.
I enjoyed the medieval walls, the fortified tower of Galera, pieces of marble with inscriptions, shields undergoing restoration, truncated Roman columns, capitals, the She-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, parts of the old buildings which have been restored, and models representing layout of the area’s original settlements
I also liked the vertical openings in the walls to defend the tower, the white marble sarcophagus of Hippolytus from the 3rd century, statues with figures whose faces and/or clothing are worn or broken, and marble plaques with different scenes portrayed. All of the signs bore the word “Tarraco.” It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I read a text that said “…of all the cities made for rest, this is the most enjoyable…” signed L. Florus Anneu (2nd century BC).
There were gateways prepared so you could visit the tower without stepping on the ruins and from which you could observe everything without destroying that which has stood the test of time. There were also long illuminated tunnels for chariot races and horses and even places where you can reach the other side where the more modern buildings of old city are currently being restored.
It is an admirable work that deserves the respect and care of mankind. We reached the headless female statue made of marble on which dates from the first century BC are noted in the folds of her dress and finally arrived at the steps connecting these tunnels to the Roman Circus. I could keep going but it’s not necessary…you just have to see it for yourself to truly understand this delicate work of anthropologists and historians.
The Plaça dels Sedassos is also nearby.
About 1000 meters, of the original 4kms, are still standing. This is the wall built in 300BC by the Romans in the city of Tarragona. Between 217 and 197 BC, the oldest building of the Roman Tarraco was contstructed. Around the years 150-125 BC, the wall changed substantially, growing in size, height and thickness, and going on to encompass the entire city to the port . Their megalithic stones are lit with the light of sunset, we crossed to reach the old town, a lovely walk which you should hesitate to do.
For a few days each year, Tarragona ceases to be a city of stone and is instead filled with bright colors, peoples, smells and tastes.
Locals and visitors fill the streets and enjoy every corner of the imperial city. All Catalan traditions intersect in this week-long fiesta. Today, I enjoyed Castellers (human towers), cuisine, and interesting visits to some of the most emblematic museums of this World Heritage city.
And this was before the festivities officially began! The big day is on the 23rd of September, the day of Santa Tecla, patron saint of Tarragona. It’s a festival of national interest, ideal for enjoying with friends, family, and children.
The website is very comprehensive and you can download the entire program for the various parades and the final procession. It’s a wonderful traditional party and highly recommended. The best thing is to come by train or by public transportation as parking is very difficult, or at least leave the car outside the city and walk, a surefire way to discover even more interesting little corners of the city.
We went to the cove and we recommended it here as we loved it: the fine sand, great water, it was a great success and you can take your pet with you, although it is a bit difficult to access, it is worth it because the road is amazing.
Exploring Tarragona in an electric car is a great idea. While a driver's license is mandatory, the cars themselves are actually very easy to drive. The maximum they reach is 45km/hour and they're automatic, not manual. There are several different kinds of routes you can do and the rental price is reasonable: 20 Euros per 90 minutes in the car. The cars are two-seaters which makes the price even more affordable. Another plus is that you can park anywhere in the city and there is a GPS-based guide on board to guide you around the city and explain a little bit about the things you're seeing.
I would define this as a semi-urban beach in Tarragona. It is spacious and well maintained, with all the services and above all, with a large parking area between which there is a free covered parking which is very important in the middle of August. I've been there several times, especially for a walk, I found the atmosphere pleasant, ramps perfect and very clean overall. I would recommend it to those who are in the area.
The Roman Circus of Tarragona is among the best preserved in the West, even though most of its structure is hidden under an old buildings of the nineteenth century. It was built in the late first century AD had an elongated shape and is 325 meters long and 115 wide. It is estimated to have a capacity for 30,000 spectators. In the sixteenth century it became the palace of the kings of the Catalan-Aragonese crown and later in prison. Today you can visit the eastern end, where besides the monumental facade and the stairs you can see vaults and Enrajolat San Hermenegildo. There are also tunnels or underground passages and gateways that connected with prisons. I recommend you visiting this place as it is beautiful and full of history for you to enjoy and learn.
We visited this place by chance after seeing an advert in one of the many brochures we picked up at the tourist office. We had visited The Monumental Tarraco and we had some time left over so we went to the Castellarnau House. We knew nothing of these legends, and in all honesty, we had not noticed anything strange about the visit, except ... Joking aside, we saw nothing except a spectacular house, which is worth a visit. We loved how well preserved it was and especially the furniture! But if you go and see a girl or a piano you listen, do not run! Heh, heh!
If you want to feel like an archaeologist, this new initiative from the Tarragona Ministry of Tourism is a great start. Tarragona was the first major Roman settlement outside of Rome so its historical significance is enormous. In fact, it actually became the most important city on the Iberian Peninsula. The inhabitants of Tarragona prospered and since many of them newly rich, they wanted to leave something for posterity. The decided to built small pedestals and statues with personal inscriptions. While only a few are still standing today, it's extraordinary how much information you can get from a simple inscription. You find everything from slaves who bought their freedom to soldiers from Rioja and even traders from Portugal who had risen to important positions in city society. With just the inscriptions and a little background you can get a very good picture of who they were and how society functioned at the time. Each little pedestal is accompanied by a costumed actor who represents, very accurately, the person in question. It's quite interesting.
There's no doubt that Tarragona is an important part of Roman history, but aside from the ancient walls and amphitheaters, you can also visit this necropolis to see the amount of people buried there and find out a bit about who they were. It' a very interesting archaeological site. If you want more information, you can call the museum at +34 657.716.471 and they'll give you all the details.
During Tarragona's costal development boom, the Marquis who owned the area of coast and forest surrounding Playa la Mora made the choice to block it off from development so that people could enjoy a piece of truly wild nature near the city. And while the area is enjoyed by thousands of people every year, you still get the feeling of being in the heart of the wilderness. We learned this little piece of history from our guide at TGNautica kayaks as we did the pirate route along the coast. Before launching our kayaks, we had a short safety course on the seashore to learn the proper techniques. We went out for about three hours but had a blast. Arnau is a very fun, warm, and professional guide and we'd definitely do business with him again.
The Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco may be one of the more important attractions in Tarragona, because the city is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. During the Roman Empire, it was one of the principal cities of Hispania and today is one of the essential places to visit in Tarragona. Your visit should begin with the old town, surrounded by Roman walls, where, besides learning all about the city's history, you can also enjoy the local cuisine and other Tarragona activities. Other things to see in Tarragona are the Roman Amphitheatre, the Roman Circus, the Plaça de la Font, or the Rambla Nova, a large boulevard where you can enjoy some of the more fun stuff do in Tarragona. There are a variety of terraces, restaurants, shops, and some public and private institutions. The list of what to do in Tarragona is extensive, but don't forget to also make time for leisure. And if you are passionate about culinary tourism, we recommend that you look for things to do in Tarragona related to gastronomy and discover the best restaurants for trying typical dishes, such as snails spinet, the cassola romesco or arrossejat. Enjoy all the Tarragona attractions, monuments and cuisine.