Tarragona...a city full of History

Trip Start Dec 10, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Sunday, July 12, 2009

This place deserves an entry all of its own, and I know, as I start to write this, I'm really not going to have the words to convey the depth of this little piece of earth......

A little history lesson to set the scene ..  Tarragona was first occupied by the Romans in 218BC (and we know how brillant and thorough they were, hence there buildings are still around!).  It was ruled by Augustus, and in 27BC he made it the capital of the province until 25BC.  It was abondanded in AD714 when the Muslims arrived but was 'reborn' as a Christian entity some 300 years later.  Of course all this makes for a rich and absorbing visit, as many, many remains are still there to be seen.  Our first sight was, what is left of the old Roman bridge (right next to the highway), just before we took the city turnoff. 

It is very easy to do a walk around the old town, and we started (although it was very hot) at the Amfiteatre Roma, where you can still see the old concrete bench seats set up in a circular from, so that the sport being held below could be viewed by all.   Unfortuanately, the sport held in this arena, at that time,  was a fight to the death (think the Gladiator movie), where men/gladiators either were forced to fight each other, or an animal, to the death.    Along the street, we also saw glimpes of the Pretori i Circ Romans, where the chariot races took place.

The Cathedral was another impressive sight.  It sits at the top of the hill, take the cobbled stoned path to the top of the town, and on your way, you can purchase something at the antique stalls set up (even a 1915? military bicicyle for sale for 800 euros).  Once you step inside this vast space, filled with 16th century tapestries, gorgeous stained glass, and 15th century stalls made of walnut, you really are in another world.   The main alter, made of marble was carved in the 13th century, and although photos are permitted, when we entered, on a Sunday, at the end of a church service, complete with choir and encompassing piped organ music throughout, it was almost sacreligious to start 'snapping'.  It was however, definitely, a place worth a visit, and to spend some time.

You could walk these streets for hours if you had the stamina (and not the young children), and the time.  The museum visits (where you can visit vaults, more city walls, sculpture and pottery) will definitely but next on our agenda when we return .. and I really hope, that's not in the too distance future.  


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