On the shores of the Mediterranean, right on the Costa Daurada, former Roman Tarraco offers us an important legacy of monuments amid extensive beaches. Its archaeological remains, forming a World Heritage Site, are one of the points of interest of this Catalan city. From here you can make countless trips, like the one that brings visitors to get to know one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries, which is also a World Heritage Site: the monastery of Poblet. This is a cultural option added to those offered by a coastline on the shores of the Mediterranean sea: seaside towns, tasty fish and seafood and any number of water sports.
Tarragona, capital of Hispania Citerior during the Roman empire, preserves many buildings from this period. The walls surrounding the historic centre were built in the 3rd century BC., although they were altered in the medieval period. Beside the sea stand the terraces of the Roman amphitheatre which, in its day, (2nd C.), had capacity for more than 12,000 people. Here they attended combats between gladiators and wild animals. The former Tarraco also had a theatre and a circus. The theatre, outside the walled enclosure and nowadays on the Archaeological Walk, took advantage of the difference in levels in this area to built the terracing. Around the Plaça de la Font are preserved the vaults that supported the cavea (terracing) of the circus, an area where chariot races were held. Medieval Tarragona The historic centre of the city unfolds between the Mediterranean Sea and the old walls. In this area is the Cathedral of Santa María, a building constructed on the site of a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter and a Muslim mosque. Romanesque doorways, Gothic roof arches and cloisters of Romanesque origin show the transition from one style to another. Also belonging to the Middle Ages are the arcades of the Calle Mercería, although the Calle de Çavallers is considered the main street of medieval Tarragona. In this central part of the city, the Casa del Degà, Casa dels Concilis and Casa de la Ciutat are the outstanding features. On the other side of the Rambla Vella is the rationalist layout of Tarragona, with its Rambla Nova, which arrives at the Paseo de las Palmeras and the Balcón del Mediterráneo. From here you get one of the best views over the sea and El Miracle beach. Among the Modernist buildings of the former Tarraco, you can visit the tower and gallery of the Casa Ripoll, the iron building of the Central Market or the chapel of the Colegio Jesús i Maria, in whose construction Antoni Gaudí, the greatest representative of Spanish Modernism took part. The city of Tarragona also has one of the largest paleochristian necropolises in the West. The decoration of wooden coffins, slabs, sarcophaguses and mausoleums brings us closer to the art of the first Christians. We should not forget that the capital of the Costa Daurada has one of the most important ports on “Mare Nostrum”. A good option for tasting the shellfish and fish typical of the area is to go to El Serrallo, the city's fishing district. Langoustines from San Carlos de la Rápita, crustaceans from Cambrils and eels from the Ebro Delta are some of the coastal products offered by the cuisine of Tarragona. Vegetables from inland are accompanied by romesco sauce (made with dried red peppers, tomatoes and almonds), while the stews combine the area's raw materials. Pataco (stew of snails, potatoes, tuna, almonds, garlic and ham), cod balls, or rice with cuttlefish coloured with its own ink are some possibilities. Desserts have almonds and lemons as the main ingredient. The province's extensive vineyards give rise to five interesting denominations of origin: Tarragona, Conca de Barberá, Penedés, Priorato and Terra Alta. Tours of the province Tarragona's position, right on the Costa Daurada, invites you to tour a coast of calm, shallow waters, ideal for enjoying with small children, and with some excellent golden-hued beaches. Places like Calafell, Torredembarra and Altafulla combine historic buildings with a large number of holiday offers on the shores of the Mediterranean. Towns like Salou and Cambrils and the Delta del Ebro Natural Park, beside clear waters, also offer the Port Aventura theme park, a famous culinary tradition and beautiful protected areas. You can also visit the Iberian village of Moleta del Remei, declared a historic-artistic monument, in the municipality of Les Cases d’Alcanar. In addition, to the range of culture must be added the opportunity to practise many low environmental impact sports and all kinds of activities in the water. Inland, the province offers the important monumental site formed by the Modernist buildings of the Plaza de Prim and the Casa Navàs in Reus. Declared a historic-artistic site because of its medieval, Baroque, Renaissance and Modernist architecture, Tortosa in another place you should visit. Its Parador de Turismo, the castle of Zuda (or Suda), is a National Monument and an exceptionally good choice of a place to stay in the fertile valley of the Ebro. Meanwhile, the Cistercian Monastery Route, takes you to get to know the monasteries of Santes Creus and Poblet in the province of Tarragona, the latter declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You can continue this unusual tour into the province of Lleida, at the Vallbona de les Monges monastery. The Costa Daurada also offers travellers the possibility of studying the making of the area's wines and cavas in greater depth. At El Pinell de Brai, Falset, Gandesa, L’Espluga de Francolí and Sarral you can visit Modernist cellars, some of them built by César Martinell. It is a good way to get to know the integration between art and daily life.
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