The Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco (modern Tarragona) reflect the first and oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula. It first served as a base for the conquest of the interior and then became a provincial capital.
The city has been built on three terraces, adapting to its environments, and included a Forum, Circus, Amphitheatre, villas and other public buildings.
Within Spain, comparisons can be made with Mérida
. However, Tárraco is believed to have had greater importance in the Roman Empire, as its first provincial capital. Its remains also illustrate the entire Roman period of the town, from the 3rd century BC to the end of the Roman rule.
Visit August 2006
About 95 km's south of Barcelona, also on the coast, lies the pleasant city of Tarragona. After leaving our car in a parking garage, we tried to find our way to the Roman remains without a map. This wasn't easy, as the city is spread out along the coastline. Fortunately the woman at the train station who had sold out all of her maps pointed us in the right direction: most of the sights are in the north, in the upper town. We walked up there, in the midday heat.
The Tourist Information in this part of town holds very Spanish opening hours (closed between 1 and 5 p.m. or so), so we just had to follow our own instincts. The enormous city walls can't be overlooked though. From there we roamed the narrow streets of the charming old town. Most of the Roman remains are only fragments. The amphitheatre is quite complete, but I've seen better ones. It was closed too, for unclear reasons. Not part of the WHS but worth a mention: the cathedral of Tarragona, also in the upper town, is just great.
On our way back to Barcelona (via the A7 toll road) we had a glimpse of the Roman aquaduct. If you're in the mood, there's a small parking lot on both sides of the road from where you can have a good look and take pictures. We'd had enough however after another satisfying day. Advise for future travellers to Tarragona: bring your own map and take your time!
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|John Booth (New Zealand):|
I agree that the listed sites within the city are nothing spectacular compared to Merida so I went to search out the sites on the periphery of the city.
The aqueduct, known locally as Puente del Diablo, is in a leafy park to the north of the city, reached by bus #5 from the city centre. Whilst it is in a good state of repair it nowhere near as spectacular as the one in Segovia.
Centcelles villa is at the village of Constanta, reached by the Plana bus. The main feature is the mosaic design on the domed ceiling of the basilica.
Els Munts, located a short walk from Altafulla station, is a rather disappointing excavated village.
The Arch of Bera, accessed by a Penedes bus from Torredembarra station, is a rather forlorn and incomplete monument.
| Date posted: November 2010|
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
Today´s Tarragona is a very nice and quiet city on the coast just an hour south of Barcelona, and a very easy day trip, due to its great coastal location, medieval city center, and, of course, its Roman remains. Two millennia ago, this was Tarraco, the most important city in the Spanish provinces (and capital of Hispania tarraconensis, the largest province on the peninsula), and it´s easy to see why the Romans chose this site for their capital. There are no really outstanding sites here, but what makes Tarragona very interesting and maybe even unique is the fact that it features a complete cross-section of a Roman city - it has an amphitheatre, a forum, a circus, a theatre, temples, administrative and residential buildings, defensive walls, a cemetery, a mausoleum, an aqueduct, and a triumphal arch. Most of these are rather well preserved. I especially liked the circus complex, the forum, and the amphitheatre. Several sites are outside the city centre (some quite far away). Of these, I visited the Tower of the Scipios (a funerary monument, not that interesting) and the Ferreres Aqueduct (locally known as the Devil's Bridge, set in a forest and very well preserved). The cathedral is also very impressive, but was closed when I was there. I have visited Tarragona twice, and my second visit in 2012 was much more exhaustive than the first one in 2005, which was just a brief excursion from Barcelona. I really liked the city, and if you are interested in Roman history, this is one of the better places to experience it.
| Date posted: November 2005|
|Rob Wilson (UK):|
I wouldn't call Tarragona one of the most significant WHS, but is a lovely place to visit. The sites are all in good condition, although the ampitheatre needs some rather unsightly and unnecessary barriers removed, and the forum needs a little tidying. The entrance fees are very reasonable, and you won't be over-run with crowds. The forum was a particularly rewarding experience - I was the only person there!
If you're in the area they are well worth a visit.
| Date posted: November 2005|
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