Barà Triumphal Arch. Roda de Barà
Pont de les Ferreres or “Devil’s Bridge” Aqueduct. Tarragona
Roman Amphitheatre. Tarragona
Tarragona National Archaeological Museum
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The jewel of the Roman Empire on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
The city of Tarragona, ancient Tarraco, was one of the three most important cities in Spain during Roman rule. The consul Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus disembarked here to pursue the Carthaginians led by the legendary Hannibal, thus giving rise to the Roman conquest of Spain. The importance of the preserved Roman remains has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
This one-day or weekend route starts in the city centre of Tarragona. The city centre houses the remains of the circus (1st century A.D.) which has been exceptionally well-preserved.
The remains of the two city fora are located nearby – the provincial and colonial (or local). They were the centre of political, administrative and social life in Tarraco. Today, visitors can see some walls, arches and stone constructions around the streets of the old town.
The most important site of worship in Roman Tarraco was in the very same spot where the imposing Gothic cathedral of Santa María (13th-14th centuries) stands today – the most important non-Roman monument in the city.
Our visit continues with a stroll around the Roman city walls (2nd century B.C.), the oldest of those preserved outside Italy, which were strengthened in the 16th and 17th centuries. Alongside these are the ruins of the amphitheatre (2nd century B.C.), which was the setting for gladiator battles. On the other hand, the theatre cannot be visited.
Our route around Tarragona continues towards the Francolí River, to the south of the city. We recommend heading there from the ‘Balcón del Mediterráneo’ – a marvellous vantage point with views over the city’s sea front. Afterwards, we can head to the promenade in search of the old port neighbourhood of Serrallo, where there are perfect restaurants to taste delicious Mediterranean fish.
Alongside the opposite end of the area, next to the Central and Ciutat parks, is the Palaeo-Christian burial ground (3rd century on) and its museum.
After this, we can head on a trip to see the different interesting spots in the surrounding area of the city of Tarragona. The N-240 takes us to Les Ferreres Aqueduct (also known as the Devil’s Bridge). Dating to the 1st century B.C., it provided water to the city and its double row of arches is well-preserved today. A little further along the route is the town of Constantí. The outskirts house the Roman villa of Centcelles (4th century A.D.) with its rich mosaics.
Returning to Tarragona, we now head north, following the N-340 coast road. There are successive monuments from Roman Tarraco just 20 kilometres away. Around 3 kilometres after leaving the city we come across the Torre de los Escipiones tower, a funereal monument from the 1st century A.D. Nearby, alongside La Móra estate and in the middle of a forest, the Mèdol stone quarry can be visited (after a brief walk), where the stone used to build Tarraco’s buildings was extracted.
Altafulla (3 kilometres) is home to the remains of the luxurious Els Munts villa, which was owned by a high ranking official in the Roman administration. It is located on a small headland next to the Mediterranean. Further on, in Roda de Barà, we get to see the famous Berà Arch, an honorary arch dedicated to the Emperor Augustus (end of the 1st century B.C.) It is located between two lanes on the N-340, on what was the old Vía Augusta road.
If we do our journey in May, we can also enjoy the Tarraco Viva Festival. It offers a series of interesting conferences on the Roman world and ancient Tarraco.