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—  City  —
View of Tarragona


Coat of arms
Location of Tarragona in Catalonia
Tarragona is located in Spain
Location of Tarragona in Spain
Coordinates: 41°06′56.51″N 1°14′58.54″E / 41.1156972°N 1.2495944°E / 41.1156972; 1.2495944Coordinates: 41°06′56.51″N 1°14′58.54″E / 41.1156972°N 1.2495944°E / 41.1156972; 1.2495944
Country  Spain
Autonomous Community  Catalonia
Province Tarragona
Comarca Tarragonès
Founded 5th century BC
 - Mayor Josep Fèlix Ballesteros (PSC)
 - Total 181.60 km2 (70.1 sq mi)
Elevation (AMSL) 68 m (223 ft)
Population (2009)
 - Total 140,323
 Density 772.7/km2 (2,001.3/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 43001 - 43008
Area code(s) +34 (Spain) + (Tarragona)
Website Official website
Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

View of Roman Circus
State Party  Spain
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii
Reference 875
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2000  (24th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Tarragona (Catalan pronunciation: [tərəˈɣonə]) is a city located in the south of Catalonia and east of Spain, by the Mediterranean. It is the capital of the Spanish province of the same name and the capital of the Catalan comarca Tarragonès. In the medieval and modern times it was the capital of the Vegueria of Tarragona. As of the 2009 census, the city had a population of 140,323, and the population of the entire metropolitan area was estimated to be 675,921.[citation needed]



In Roman times, the city was named Tarraco (Ταρρακών) and was capital of the province of Hispania Tarraconensis (after being capital of Hispania Citerior in the Republican era).[1] The Roman colony founded at Tarraco had the full name of Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraco.

The city may have begun as an Iberic town called Kesse or Kosse, named for the Iberic tribe of the region, the Cosetans, though the identification of Tarragona with Kesse is not certain.[2] Smith suggests that the city was probably founded by the Phoenicians, who called it 'Tarchon, which, according to Samuel Bochart, means a citadel. This name was probably derived from its situation on a high rock, between 700 and 800 feet above the sea; whence we find it characterised as arce potens Tarraco.[3] It was seated on the river Sulcis or Tulcis (modern Francolí), on a bay of the Mare Internum (Mediterranean), between the Pyrenees and the river Iberus (modern Ebro).[4] Livy mentions a portus Tarraconis;[5] and according to Eratosthenes it had a naval station or roads (Ναύσταθμον);[6] but Artemidorus says with more probability that it had none, and scarcely even an anchoring place; and Strabo himself calls it ἀλίμενος.[7]

View of Gothic quarter and Cathedral of Tarragona.

This answers better to its present condition; for though a mole was constructed in the 15th century with the materials of the ancient amphitheatre, and another subsequently by an Englishman named John Smith, it still affords but little protection for shipping.[8] Tarraco lies on the main road along the south-eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.[9] It was fortified and much enlarged by the brothers Publius and Gnaeus Scipio, who converted it into a fortress and arsenal against the Carthagenians. Subsequently it became the capital of the province named after it, a Roman colony, and conventus juridicus.[10]

Augustus wintered at Tarraco after his Cantabrian campaign, and bestowed many marks of honor on the city, among which were its honorary titles of Colonia Victrix Togata and Colonia Julia Victrix Tarraconensis. The city also minted coins.[11] According to Mela it was the richest town on that coast,[12] and Strabo represents its population as equal to that of Carthago Nova (modern Cartagena).[12] Its fertile plain and sunny shores are celebrated by Martial and other poets; and its neighborhood is described as producing good wine and flax.[13]

Main sights


Ancient remains

The Roman ruins of Tarraco have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Part of the bases of large Cyclopean walls near the Cuartel de Pilatos are thought to pre-date the Romans. The building just mentioned, a prison in the 19th century, is said to have been the palace of Augustus. The 2nd century amphitheatre, near the sea-shore, was extensively used as a quarry after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and but few vestiges of it now remain. A circus, c. 450 m long, was built over in the area now called Plaça de la Font, though portions of it are still to be traced. Throughout the town Latin, and even apparently Phoenician, inscriptions on the stones of the houses mark the meterial used for buildings in the town.

Two ancient monuments, at some little distance from the town, have, however, fared rather better. The first of these is the Aqüeducte de les Ferreres, which spans a valley about 4 km north of the city. It is 217 m (711.94 ft) in length, and the loftiest arches, of which there are two tiers, are 26 m (85.30 ft) high. There is a monument about 6 km along the coast road east of the city, commonly called the "Tower of the Scipios"; but there is no authority for assuming that they were buried here.[14]

Other Roman buildings include:

  • the walls, with two gates: Portal del Roser and the Portal de Sant Antoni.
  • the capitol, or citadel
  • the Forum
  • the palace of Augustus, called the house of Pilate
  • the circus or amphitheatre
  • the so-called tower, or sepulchre, of the Scipios
  • arch of Sura, or of Bara
  • the Aurelian Way.

The city is also home to an archaeological museum.

Religious buildings

Tarragona Cathedral.

The cathedral, it is believed, was begun by St. Olegarius. The solid edifice is solid combines Romanesque, Arabic, and Gothic styles of architecture. Its façade is composed of three sections, and the ground plan, in the form of a Latin cross, has a nave and two aisles, with a wide transept. In the right aisle is the chapel of St. Tecla, patroness of the city, begun in 1760 under the direction of Don José Prats and finished in 1776. The baptismal font is a marble basin found in the ruins of the palace of Augustus. The chapter house, celebrated for the councils held there, has a Byzantine door and a dome. As late as the 15th century the cathedral had not yet been completed, as the sculpture work on the main altar began only 1426. The choir was not finished until 1493. The chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the organ, built by the cura of Tivisa, Don Jaime Amigó, the stained glass, etc. date from the 16th century.

Other churches in the city include:

  • the convent of the Poor Clares, near the walls
  • The convent of Santa Teresa
  • The church of the Capuchins, the parish church of the port
  • The former convent of San Francisco
  • The Jesuit college was turned into barracks, their church, however, has been restored to them
  • The convent of the Dominicans, now the town hall
  • The archiepiscopal palace, situated on the site of the ancient capitol, one tower of which still remains. It was rebuilt in the 19th century.
  • Near the sea, in the Roman amphitheatre, is the edifice called el Milagro (the Miracle), which belonged to the Knights Templar. It was afterwards used by the Trinitarian Fathers, and has since been converted into a penitentiary.

The seminary of San Pablo and Santa Tecla was founded in 1570 by the cardinal archbishop, Gaspar de Cervantes, and was the first to comply with the decrees of the Council of Trent. In 1858 Archbishop José Domingo Costa y Borrás built a fourth wing. Benito Villamitjana built a new seminary behind the cathedral in 1886, in the courtyard of which stands the old chapel of San Pablo. Pope Leo XIII raised this to the rank of a pontifical university.

Otuside the city is the monastery of Poblet, founded in 1151 by Ramón Berenguer IV, which was used for sepultures of the kings of Aragon.

Modern Tarragona

Tarragona is home to a large port and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Much of its economic activity comes from a large number of chemical industries located in the city or in surrounding areas.

The main living heritage is the Popular Retinue, a great parade of dances, bestiary and spoken dances- and the human towers. They specially participate in Santa Tecla Festival. They are so popular in Tarragona and also in all Catalonia that they have got their own home. It is called "Casa de la Festa", Festivities House, where you can visit them all the year. [1]

A number of beaches, some awarded a Blue Flag designation, line the Mediterranean coast near the city.

Tarragona is located near the holiday resort of Salou and the theme park Port Aventura, one of the largest in Europe.

The city is located a few kilometers away from Reus Airport, which has many low-cost destinations and charter-flights (over a million passengers per year). Reus is the second city of Tarragona area (101,767 inhabitants in 2006), known by its commercial activity and for being the place were the architect Gaudí was born.


Entrance of the Tarragona Cathedral.
Carrer Major during Santa Tecla Festival.

Tarragona is also a candidate to be the Spanish representative as European Capital of Culture in 2016.

Twin towns — Sister cities

Tarragona is twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ Ptolemy, ii. 6. § 17)
  2. ^ Silvia Orvietani Busch (2001). Medieval Mediterranean Ports: The Catalan and Tuscan Coasts, 1100 to 1235. BRILL. p. 53. ISBN 9004120696. 
  3. ^ (Auson. Class. Urb. 9; cf. Mart. x. 104.)
  4. ^ (Mela, ii. 6; Plin. iii. 3. s. 4.)
  5. ^ (xxii. 22)
  6. ^ (ap. Strabo iii. p. 159)
  7. ^ (ap. Strab. l. c.; Polyb. iii. 76)
  8. ^ (Ford's Handbook of Spain, p. 222.)
  9. ^ (Itin. Ant. pp. 391, 396, 399, 448, 452.)
  10. ^ Pliny l. c.; Tacitus Ann. i. 78; Gaius Julius Solinus 23, 26; Polybius x. 34; Livy xxi. 61; Stephanus of Byzantium p. 637.
  11. ^ (Grut. Inscr. p. 382; Orelli, no. 3127; coins in Eckhel, i. p. 27; Florez, Med. ii. p. 579; Théodore Edme Mionnet, i. p. 51, Suppl. i. p. 104; Sestini, p. 202.)
  12. ^ a b (l. c.)
  13. ^ (Mart. x. 104, xiii. 118; Sil. Ital. iii. 369, xv. 177; Plin. xiv. 6. s. 8, xix. 1. s. 2.)
  14. ^ (Cf. Ford, Handbook, p. 219, seq.; Florez, Esp. Sagr. xxix. p. 68, seq.; Miñano, Diccion. viii. p. 398.)

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

A view over Tarragona
A view over Tarragona
Tarragona [1] is the first large seaside town south of Barcelona. The town also offers a number of historical sites including churches from several different periods and a well preserved Roman colosseum. The town itself has the usual Spanish assortment of plazas sprinkled with cafes and tapas bars. Tarragona is a good choice if you only have a day or two to get out of Barcelona, otherwise the beaches further south or the remoter seaside villages to the north of Barcelona offer a more unique experience.

On Google Earth fly to: 41 06'56.51"N, 1 14'58.54"E

Get in

Tarragona is on the main train line between Barcelona (1 hrs) and Alicante (2-3hrs), and also on the main line between Barcelona and Madrid (4 hrs). Note that it's best to buy train tickets a few days ahead during the high season to avoid getting stuck in one place. However, you always have the chance to take a stop-train, which is reasonable when coming from Barcelona (it takes basically the same time). Tarragona also has an airport close in Reus. Reus is mainly served by charter flights and Ryanair. Ryanair calls the destination Reus-Barcelona but it really is the airport of Tarragona.

Get around

All of Tarragona's sites are within walking distance of the train station. Taxis and local trains can take you further.

  • Tarraco UNESCO World Heritage Site complex of Roman ruins including colosseum.
  • Universitat Rovira i Virgili
  • The beaches are north of town. Avoid pollution from the town's larger shipping port (one of the biggest in Spain) by walking a ways up the beach. There is a nice walk following the shoreline, about 6-7 km long, where you will find the five main beaches and several smaller ones.
  • Churches
  • Plazas
  • Museum of Archeology
  • Casc antic (old part of the city)
  • Tarragona International Dixieland Festival. the week before Holy Week, end of march. he unique Dixieland festival in Spain and one of the most important in Europe: 25 bands and 100 concerts.  edit
  • Tarragona International Fireworks Displays Competition. first week of July. The most important fireworks contest in the Mediterranean area is held every first week of July in Tarragona, in a wonderful bay -Punta del Miracle-, a place praised by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí. The competition selects six international pyrotechnic companies every year.   edit
  • Santa Tecla Festival. between 15th and 23rd September. One of the most important Spanish traditional festival, between 15th and 23rd September. It has been celebrated since 1321 and it has been considered of national touristic interest by Spanish government. Human towers, historical parades and fireworks are some of the main activities.  edit
  • Tarragona Cultura Contemporania (TCC), [2]. October to April. Concerts, films in Original version, Theatre... L'associació cultural Anima't since 1994 produced a cultural program in Tarragona under the label of Tarragona Cultura Contemporània (TCC) together a program of music and films in original version of the October to April.  edit


There are not a lot of organized outdoor activities in Tarragona beyond strolling through the town, swimming at the beaches, and people watching in the plazas. One of the most beautiful parts of Tarragona is the old streets (Casc Antic), the ones near the cathedral, do not miss them.

There is a cultural agenda [3]


There are many interesting shops along the Rambla Nova and in the streets around it, as well as in the old part of the city. A lot of typical Catalan stuff can be bought there.


Tarragona has a number of small bars, restaurants, and cafes serving the usual selection of tapas, bocadillos (sandwiches), and local seafood dishes. The best area to browse for tapas and full meals is from The Plaça de la Font along the Carrer Major up to the Cathedral, with Carrer Nau and the Plaça del Rei and Plaça del Fòrum particularly worthwhile.

The Serrallo neighbourhood near the fishing harbour has some excellent fish and seafood restaurants, which are particularly popular for Sunday lunch. There is a market hall just off the Rambla Nova in the middle of town where the basics of a good picnic can be bought cheaply.


The nicest place to spend and evening is in one of Tarragona's many plazas with a glass of beer and plate of tapas. At night if you want to have some drinks and dance you should go to "El Port" (the port), there are a lot of pubs and dance locals there.

  • Xanascat the National Network of Youth Hostels for all of Catalonia.
  • Hotel Ciutat de Tarragona, Plaça Imperial Tarraco 5, tel: +34 977250999 / [4] / e-mail= and centrally located, the best option for business trips, a romantic escapade or to enjoy the beaches and Port Aventura with all your family. Free WI-FI connection in all rooms and common areas, splendid reunion salons and a wide range of Tarragona’s rich gastronomy. Conveniences for a warm stay, private garage, gim, sauna and solarium terrace with pool.
  • Hotel SB Express Tarragona, Plaça de les Corts Catalanes 4 , tel: +34 977221050 / [5] / e-mail= at the beginning of the Rambla of Tarragona, near Hospital Joan XXIII, with very easy access to the most important roads, beaches and to Port Aventura. Private garage. Modern, comfortable and functional hotel, spacious rooms suitable for families. Free WI-FI connections in all rooms and common areas. Cafeteria, reunion salons and car rental office.
  • Hotel Corona Tortosa, Plaça Corona Aragó s/n , tel: +34 977580433 / [6] / e-mail= Easy to find and appreciate, the variety of services of the Hotel Corona Tortosa will satisfy your espectations.Free WI-FI connection in all rooms and common areas, splendid reunion salons and a wide range of Ebro's rich gastronomy. The subtropical garden and the splendid swimming pool are the perfect places to combine relaxation with entertainment.

The tourist office at Carrer Fortuny in the New Town and Carrer Major in the Casc Antic can point you to hotel rooms at any budget.

Stay safe

Be careful if you choose to visit the night clubs of the Puerto Deportivo alone, especially if you are a guy. Foreign visitors have been robbed there.

  • The nearby holiday resort of Salou is a popular destination.
  • Port Aventura One of Europe's largest amusement parks.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Tarragona m.

  1. A port of Catalonia, Spain.



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