Tarragona - a day trip back in time

After our delightful trip up the coast from Valencia, stopping in Peñíscola, we arrived in the ancient city of Tarragona, or Tarraco, as the Romans called it.

Tarragona is a lovely city in Catalonia, close enough to Barcelona to be day trippable, and was used as a fortress and arsenal back in Roman times. It was apparently the richest town on the coast and the ruins are nothing short of spectacular. It is, of course, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (but what isn't nowadays!?) with the biggest attraction in the city being the 2nd century amphitheatre.

I looked at this old ruin and imagined what it would have been like to build it nearly 2000 years ago. No cranes, no safety gear…I guess they had slaves instead but still, what a feat of engineering!

The rest of the city is full of ruins and old buildings. It's a delight to walk around and just absorb it all. There seems to be some kind if millennia-old structure on every corner, even in restaurants, where ruins all but come as a side with your steak, the way they form part of walls. It must be a nightmare excavating here since you’ll undoubtedly discover something ancient, putting your whole project on hold.

There's a gorgeous cathedral from the 12th century in Tarragona. It’s beautiful from the outside and a great place to walk around and explore, full of the usual stained glass windows and brutal reconstructions of that Jew's crucifixion.

There's a modern side to the city as well, with a gorgeous port full of extravagant boats and delightful restaurants. The food will be discussed in another post, so keep an eye out for that. An interesting thing we noticed while visiting was that a fair few buildings were adorned with yellow ribbons. This can be see across Catalonia, and is an expression of support for the independence movement. 

The city is a great place to spend a day or two. There is plenty to see, eat, and explore. If you're into your Roman ruins then it's definitely a place for you. And don't forget to venture a little north of the city to see Les Ferreres Aqueduct. It is a stunning piece of architecture and another one that makes me wonder how the hell they managed to build something so grand yet structurally sound that it still stands today. We were surprised to find we were alone when exploring it, which is remarkable given the size, beauty, and age of the monument.

And that's about that for Tarragona – a city well worth day-tripping to from Valencia or Barcelona, if you have the time.

Join us next time when we check out the nearby town of Reus and then head back down to Valencia via the Delta Erbe. Chao!