Present-day Tarragona prides itself on retaining its imperial past as one of the most important capitals over many centuries.
Present-day Tarragona prides itself on retaining its imperial past as one of the most important capitals over many centuries. Strolling through its streets and Roman ruins, visitors will travel through more than 2,000 years of history and have the chance to admire its monuments and museums. In November 2000, the city received recognition from the UNESCO for the Roman archaeological site of the ancient Tarraco, and was declared a world heritage.
The main purpose of the Roman Route is to offer visitors a chance to experience history through its major surviving monuments, which date back to the time when the city was at the peak of its grandeur. Ancient Tarraco, capital of Roman Hispania, is alive today in the numerous monuments scattered throughout the city which pay witness its timeless splendour.
Tarragona’s history began with the Romans, although in the 5th century A.C. an Iberian settlement already existed. During the Second Punic War in 218 A.C., Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus landed in Tarragona and established a garrison house which, over time would become the main military base for Hispania. This location made it possible to conquer the Iberian Peninsula over the next 200 years and spread the Latin civilisation throughout all of Hispania.
Strolling through Tarragona, you will stumble across Roman ruins on every corner. The most impressive and oldest structure is the wall that surrounded the city. Three towers still stand today: the Tower of Arquebisbe, Cabiscol and Minerva. The amphitheatre, built in the 2nd century, is another Roman construction. It was the main centre of entertainment in the city along with the Roman Circus where chariot races were held. The local elite used the forum as their meeting point. Extracting stone from Mèdol quarry was essential as the Romans used this stone to construct two aqueducts which supplied water to the city.
The importance of Tarraco is reflected in the monuments that history has handed down to us. Time and especially the changes Tarragona has endured have resulted in the loss of many of these monuments. Over the last few years, work has been carried out to recover them and show them to the public, spreading awareness of their importance.
More information: www.tarragonaturisme.cat
Near Tarragona, inland from the Costa Daurada, we will find a fascinating, mystic and religious legacy: the Cistercian Route.