Tarragona: A World Heritage City
On the shores of the Mediterranean, the former Roman Tarraco offers a perfect blend of ancient history and modern comforts. Thanks to its vast archaeological remains, it has been named a World Heritage City, but Tarragona has even more to offer. The Tarragona of today is a lively city, where the present mingles harmoniously with the past. To add to its appeal, Tarragona sits on a privileged stretch of coast – the Costa Dorada.
The ancient city
The city of Tarragona has a long history dating back to Roman times, when it was founded as Tarraco, and today boasts perfectly preserved remains in abundance. The walls surrounding the historic center were built in the 3rd century BC., and the terraces of the Roman amphitheater still stand beside the sea. In their day, they held audiences of more than 12,000 people, who gathered to watch battles between gladiators and fierce animals. The former Tarraco also had a theater and a circus. The theatre, which lies outside of the city wall, made use of the natural hillside to build its terraced seating, with the vaults of the circus built beneath.
Alongside these remains – and sometimes on top of them – is the evidence of medieval Tarragona. For example, the Cathedral of Santa María was built on a site that was originally a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter and later a Muslim mosque. Romanesque doorways and Gothic arches show the transition from one style to another over the years spent on its construction. The arcades of the streets called Mercería and Çavallers are also excellent reminders of Tarragona’s medieval greatness. And of course, this awe-inspiring history is complemented by the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and its golden shores.
Beaches and nature
Tarragona’s beaches compete with its history as the biggest draw for visitors. The city’s 9-mile (15 km) coastline is celebrated for its fine, golden sand and gentle sea. The mile climate means an extra-long season for swimming and sunbathing, and these urban beaches – equipped with excellent amenities – are spectacularly clean.
The beaches are also home to a rich and varied ecosystem, and Tarragona has two protected areas: The Punta de la Móra nature reserve, a coastal forest of junipers and pines that is home to diverse wildlife; and the Gaià River Delta nature reserve and Tamarit Beach, where over 80 different bird species have been identified. Life under the water is also thriving, and can be experienced through diving – or through cuisine!
Sample fresh local fish and shellfish in El Serrallo, the city’s fishing district, and try some of the regional wines to accompany it. The province’s extensive vineyards give rise to five superb denominations of origin: Tarragona, Conca de Barberá, Penedés, Priorato and Terra Alta.
DMC Barcelona & Catalonia: Your Tarragona tour
A tour of this World Heritage City will be an experience your group will never forget. Tarragona has much to offer, so get in touch today to start planning your itinerary!