Tarragona: history, tourism and what to do?

Tarragona is a city located in the northeast of Spain (the region of Catalonia). Today it is one of the most important historical centers of Spain and an important seaport (Costa Daurada).

Tarragona contains many historical buildings dating back to the Ancient Roman period which are included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The city is associated with the era when Tarraco (the ancient name of Tarragona) was one of the most important cities on the Iberian peninsula. Tarragona shows the real history of mankind, connecting several thousand years of development. Here you can spot Ferraris in the streets alongside ancient ruins, a medieval Gothic cathedral, cobblestone streets and petrochemical complexes.

The city of Tarragona is located on the coast of the Balearic Sea in the north-eastern part of Spain, in the south of Catalonia.

How to get to Tarragona. It is about 100 km south from Barcelona, depending on which road you prefer – a toll road (AP-7) or a free, but winding, road along the coast with amazing views of the sea (N-340). The nearest airpot – Reus (15 minutes by car or bus) or Barcelona el Prat (1 hour and a half depending on the route). Renfe Central Railway Station of Tarragona allows to reach main cities of Spain (including Barcelona, Madrid, Reus, Salou).

The climate of Tarragona is the standard Mediterranean climate (dry summers, mild winters). The average annual rainfall is 500 mm. Most precipitation falls from September to November. Snow and frosts are rare.

History of Tarragona: according to historians, the first settlement was founded by the Iberian tribes in the 5th century BC and was called Kesse. In 218 BC, these territories were conquered by the Romans, who founded the city of Tarraco, which is considered the oldest Roman colony in the Pyrenees. Before the demise of the Roman Empire, Tarraco was the capital of the province.

After the Cantabrian War in Tarraco, the emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus Caesar) spent a whole winter there, ordering the construction of many buildings. Also, the future emperor of the Roman Empire Septimius Severus is said to have lived in the city too.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths conquered Tarragona. In the early 8th century, the city was conquered by the Arabs, who ruled over it for four centuries. The city was conquered by the kings of Aragon only in the 12th century and for some time was the capital of the kingdom.

Since the 16th century, new fortifications have been built here to protect Tarragona and the surrounding area from continuous wars and pirate attacks. The city suffered greatly during the war for the Spanish inheritance and Napoleonic wars.

Roman ruins and statues are a distinctive peculiarity in all parts of the city.

According to the guides, it is best to visit Tarragona in April-May and September-October because of the comfortable temperature (+ 15-22 degrees), making it enjoyable to walk around the Roman ruins and go swimming. In the summer from June to August Tarragona becomes famous for its’ beaches and swimming, heat and Spanish siestas.

The best restaurants are located in the port of the city (fishing area El Serallo) offering famous and popular dishes made from fresh fish and seafood. The restaurants are located directly on the shoreline overlooking the sea and the port of Tarragona.

In the port of Tarragona, you can see some of the most expensive yachts in the world. The photo shows the sailing yacht “Black Pearl” (length 106.7 m)

Shopping. Shopping is not the highlight card of the city, as all the main shops are concentrated in one area or in the larger shopping centres in Barcelona. In Tarragona itself, you can only find shops of some famous brands (mainly Spanish) which are concentrated on the main street of Tarragona – Rambla Nova. On Sundays (during the morning) there is also a flea market here.

Cheap food is available at the local attraction: the market of Tarragona (Mercat Central), which sells fresh and seasonal products, including fish.

Beaches and where to swim?

In Tarragona there only 2 working beaches: central with a view on a port.

The neighboring beach (1km to the north) Platja de l’Arrabassada, is generally empty with the same sand and with beautiful views.

Official data on the city of Tarragona

Population – 131 500
Area – 63 sq. km.
The language is Spanish, Catalan
Currency – Euro
Visa – Schengen
Time is Central European UTC +1, in summer +2
The Tourist Information Center is located at C / Fortuny, 4, Tarragona

Read more: The cities of the Pyrenees and around with Andrew Morato ...