Tarragona is the second most important city for Catalonia after Barcelona. This is one of the most amazing historical places, which is of particular interest to tourists. One of the oldest cities with a huge heritage of the Catalan nation in the form of diverse architectural monuments, is a magnificent building of Ancient Rome, many of which turned into ancient ruins. Modern buildings combined with ancient Roman ruins create an incredible atmosphere of mystery and fascinate with their landscapes.
The historical city of architecture opens its sights at every step before the visitor. Tarragona is primarily famous for the unforgettable Roman cup of the amphitheater, built in the II century. Archaeologists managed to find it only in 1952.
The monument is located in one of the most picturesque corners - under the hill, called the Mediterranean balcony of Tarragona. The audience ranks well preserved, the gates leading to the arena, as well as the stage itself with an area of about 2.5 sq. Km. The oldest structure in the form of an ellipse was able to accommodate up to 15 thousand spectators.
A majestic amphitheater was erected with the goal of conducting fierce gladiatorial fights here for the general spectacle. As the story goes, during the exile of the followers of Jesus, it was in the arena of Tarraco that the execution of three followers of Christ occurred. Later, Christians erected a church on the stage of the amphitheater in memory of the first martyrs, which, unfortunately, could not survive to this day.
Near the ancient building is the Mediterranean Sea and a picturesque park, descending in cascades in the form of terraces to the ruins of antiquity.
Roman walls of Tarragona
The ancient walls of the city of Tarraco, erected by the Romans, are included in the main attractions of Tarragona. The walls, or rather its remains, are considered one of the most ancient architectural monuments, which has been splendidly preserved to our times.
The structure was built in the II century BC, in order to mark the borders of the city of Tarraco and protect it from possible attacks. The wall stretched for 3.5 kilometers. The remainder of one kilometer now bends around the quarters of the modern city.
A tour of the historic city touches the most interesting surviving fragments from the fortress in the form of stone blocks folded without a binder, where the famous Minerva and Archbishop towers, the Roman Gateway of the Intercessor, the bastion of St. Dominic and other buildings of antiquity are located.
Cathedral of St. Thecla and St. Mary
Another of the most significant and famous architectural monuments of Tarragona is the oldest historical building - the Cathedral of St. Thecla and St. Mary, made in a combination of two styles - Gothic and Romanesque. It began to be built in the distant 1171, and it took on its completed form only in 1350. The central portal of the historical building is decorated with a carved bas-relief depicting the paintings of The Last Judgment.
The majestic oldest staircase leads to the entrance of the cathedral.
Inside the building at the main altar you can see images of scenes of life and suffering of St. Thecla.
The visitors' eyes are represented by the majestically rising lancet and semicircular arches, benches made in the Gothic style and religious sculptures.
One of the most remarkable figures of the cathedral is the Archangel Michael, trampling the foot of the Devil with a smile on his face.
A part of the architectural monument is the diocese museum located in the eastern part. It is famous for its rich collection of ancient bells cast in the 14th century.
Rambla Nova Boulevard
Visitors to the historic city of Spain should definitely take a walk along the amazing Rambla Boulevard.
It originates from the square of the Imperial Tarraco bus station and ends at the cliff, called the Mediterranean Balcony. Rambla spread out just 700 meters in length, but gathered many monuments and beautiful fountains. The pride of the boulevard is the eminent sculptural composition of Castells and the Fountain of the Century, which we will talk about later.
Tarragona Tower Als Castells
Tarragona, whose sights are endless, never ceases to amaze visitors with its unique monuments. One of them is the Tarragona tower of Als Castells, made of bronze in the form of a pyramidal sculpture of 219 human figures.
It is dedicated to castelers who conduct castell competitions twice a year. The essence of the game is to build a higher living tower from the participants.
The author of this creation was the Spanish sculptor Francesc Angles. The monument, which became one of the main attractions of the city, was erected in 1999. The height of the tower is about 11 meters, and it weighs 12 tons.
At the top of the monument is the figure of a waving child, and near the sculpture are bronze musicians and supervising the construction process. Among the figures that are part of the monument, you can see such outstanding creative personalities as Pablo Picasso, Juan Antonio Samaranch and even the author of the sculpture is here.
On one of the boulevards is one of the most beautiful fountains, called the Fountain of the Century. It was erected in honor of the 100th anniversary of the New Rambla in 1954. The creator of the project was the famous sculptor Jozel Viladumat, who was the creator of many monuments located in Barcelona and Reus.
Near the fountain there are several sculptural compositions in the form of male figures of different races. Each of them is a symbol of the continent or part of the world.
Fountain "Boy with a Goose"
The Greek sculptor Boef of Chalkedon is the author of the monument in the form of a boy with a goose. The fountain, personifying childhood and love for animals, has gained worldwide popularity, and its copies have spread throughout the world.
It is noteworthy that not only people come to the fountain to admire the sculpture, but often doves also visit this place, who are not averse to sitting on the sculptural composition.
House with a false facade
Walking along the street Placa dels Sedassos Tarragona, you can see a house with an illusory facade. The artist Carles Arola became the author of the painted wall. The building was decorated using the special trompe-l’œil technology (“optical illusion”). On the balconies of the house, the master portrayed popular Spanish characters, and on the penultimate balcony he painted himself with his wife.
Optical illusion creates the illusion of the observer that all the characters depicted are in three-dimensional space.
One of the most picturesque streets of Tarragona is referred to as the Royal Square. The square got its name in the XV century during the reign of King Aragon, when the Praetorian fortress was called the “Royal Palace” and was the residence of high-ranking officials of that period. Since then, the area adjacent to the palace has become known as the Royal Square.
Unique archaeological buildings are collected in this part of the city. Among them are the Roman circus, the National Archaeological Museum, as well as the Praetorian fortress, which houses the Museum of Roman History.
One of the most interesting archaeological sites of value is the Roman circus of Tarragona.
The magnificent building was erected in the 1st century AD and is considered the last building of the Flavian era.
From the circus preserved stands, designed for an audience of 30 thousand spectators, underground corridors, dilapidated and dilapidated arches, as well as some remains of tombstones of that century. Here is the "Palace of Pilate" - the tower of the Roman Praetorium connecting the lower city with the Provincial Forum. Once inside the tower, a surprisingly picturesque panoramic view opens up - from here you can see the bewitching Mediterranean Sea, the ruins of the Roman amphitheater, as well as the cathedral. There is something to see inside the palace - this is the hall with the sarcophagus of Hippolytus and the Gothic hall.
Museum of Roman Culture
When strolling along the Royal Square in Tarragona, do not forget to visit the museum dedicated to Roman culture. It contains all the preserved monuments of ancient Rome, which are an integral part of the World Cultural Heritage. The world treasury has about 25 thousand valuable exhibits that are associated with the history of an important period for the city in terms of cultural and economic development.
Visitors can get not only aesthetic pleasure from viewing the main exhibition: here is a unique opportunity to go down to the underground arcades, where the graves of the first Christians are located.
National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona
Near the Museum of Roman History is another unique museum with a valuable exposure - the National Archaeological Museum. The building is the oldest building in Catalonia, built in the 19th century.
The museum is the keeper of archaeological sites that have been found over the past half century.
It contains objects from the Roman amphitheater, various sculptures, mosaics, as well as some details of ancient architectural buildings.
Ponte del Diable Roman Aqueduct - The Devil's Bridge
A few kilometers from the city is the Roman aqueduct Ponte del Diable, which is a building that spans 217 meters. The 27-meter-high structure was built in the 1st century BC, during the time of Caesar Augustus.
The “Devil's Bridge” was built to supply the city with water and was used with this purpose until the 18th century.
This historical building is part of the cultural world heritage, which was included in the UNESCO list in 2000.
Tarragona - a city of cultural heritage
Heading to Spain, be sure to visit the picturesque resort town of Tarragona, the atmosphere of which is completely saturated with historical spirit.
Antiquity and modernity intertwined here, creating amazing landscape panoramas.
This is one of the most unique places on the planet with a rich archaeological complex.
The first temple on a hill in the Roman colony of Tarracon was dedicated to Jupiter, the supreme god of the Romans. Since 382, a Visigothic Christian temple (one of the first in the Pyrenees), later a mosque, was located at this place. In 1154, Tarragona appeared the first Catholic bishop - Bernat Torte, an Augustinian monk from Avignon. The first cathedral was located in a building of Roman construction and was dedicated to St. Thecla. It is not known for certain when the new Roman-Gothic cathedral was founded, but, according to historical chronicles, not earlier than 1171.
Initially, the cathedral was conceived as a fortification with strong walls, battlements and loopholes. The windows of the cathedral were located high to be out of the reach of the enemy (the current large windows in the cathedral’s abside were cut through only three centuries later). The cathedral was one-nave, with a large apse and adjacent to the sacristy and refectory.
However, during construction, plans changed repeatedly. This was due to the change of architects, and the high cost of work, and the plague epidemic. The cathedral was built over 150 years, its consecration took place in 1331, the construction was completed even later - by 1350. Thanks to this, the architecture of the cathedral combines features of the Romanesque and Gothic style, which gives it a distinctive identity.
In the XIV-XVIII centuries, chapels were attached to the cathedral in various styles - Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Major restoration and restoration work was carried out in the cathedral at the beginning of the XXI century. They were accompanied by archaeological excavations, during which, in particular, ancient Roman coins from the time of the emperor Tiberius were found.
The Cathedral of Tarragona is a three-nave basilica, having at its base the shape of a Latin cross measuring 104 x 54 meters. The width of the central nave is 16.5 meters, the height is 23 meters. On the middle cross stands an octagonal dome with stained glass windows and a turret. The bell tower of the cathedral 65 meters high has pronounced Romanesque outlines. There are 15 bells on the bell tower, the oldest of which date back to 1313 and 1314 and are among the oldest in Europe.
A wide staircase leads to the central facade of the cathedral from the square. The facade has three portals according to the number of naves - central, Gothic, and lateral, Romanesque. The main portal of the cathedral with lancet arches is richly decorated. Above the entrance there is a huge carved rose-window eleven meters in diameter, which, one might say, has become the hallmark of Tarragona. There is also a bas-relief depicting the Last Judgment, the statue of Our Lady, the twelve apostles and nine prophets.
The interior of the cathedral is interesting for the 15th-century altar of the master Pere Joan with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the life of St. Thecla, the patroness of Tarragona, Gothic wooden benches of the 14th century, the marble sarcophagus of Juan of Aragon, Bishop of Tarragona, the son of King Jaime II. The stucco ceilings of the 14th century attract attention, and Arabian influence is clearly traced in their design.
The cloister of the cathedral with its semicircular Romanesque and lancet Gothic arches is also noteworthy. There is a diocesan museum at the cathedral, which displays a collection of carpets, ancient ceramics and forged products, manuscripts, jewelry and coins.
The Legend of St. Thecla
Using the map, we got to the Cathedral of Tarragona. It is located at the highest point in the city. Previously, there was a Roman temple of the emperor Augustus, dedicated to Jupiter, then the Visigothic church, then a mosque, and finally in 1171 the construction of the cathedral began.
The cathedral was consecrated only in 1331, i.e. only 160 years after the start of construction. And they completed the construction, in general, only in 1350. Due to the length of the construction of the cathedral, both Roman and Gothic features can be found in its architectural styles, which is why it is both distinguished by its monumentality and grace.
The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Thekla (Thekla), patroness of Tarragona.
The legend of St. Thecla
Thekla, or Thekla, in our opinion, was the daughter of wealthy parents from the city of Iconio, who stood on the spot now occupied by Turkey. She planned to connect her life with a certain Tamiris, but at that time St. Paul came to their settlement. For accommodation, he chose a dwelling near the house of the Thekla family. Therefore, she got the opportunity to freely listen to his sermons, and they sunk into the soul of the young girl so much that she decided to radically change her fate and accompany the saint in all his travels.
When this news came to the narrowed Thekla, he was apparently very upset, and charged St. Paul with sorcery, which at that time was almost the most terrible crime. The saint was thrown into prison, and his new novice sold all her jewelry and valuables to bribe the guards. With her help, Paul was able to escape, and together they began to travel the earth, carrying the teachings of Christ to the masses. How long, briefly, the roads led them to Tarragona, whose inhabitants accepted their sermons with great enthusiasm.
After some time, Thekla was already so strong in the art of theological debate that she was able to independently go to the village of Seleusia in order to guide its inhabitants on the path of true faith. But along the way, opponents of Christianity attacked her, of which then a huge number scoured everywhere.The girl was subjected to the most inhumane torture to force her to renounce her faith, but in spite of everything she remained alive and well.
Legends say that poisonous snakes in the pit did not bite her, the flame where they wanted to burn her spread to the tormentors, and the quartering device broke before trying to execute Thekla again. And the kings of the beast lions took the saint as their best friend, licking her scars, instead of eating her for dinner. Realizing the futility of trying to break the girl, the tormentors let her go.
After the happy ending of her misfortunes, Theokla decided to leave the worldly vanity and retired to a cave, where until the very advanced years she lived in prayers and thoughts about saving the soul. But its popularity grew and influenced a large number of people who eventually converted to Christianity.
Therefore, the persecutors of the religion of Christ saw an already elderly woman as a serious threat and decided to nevertheless deal with it. Saint Thekla turned her prayers to God, so that He would help her soul to remain unsullied and pure. Then the walls of the cave collapsed, burying the saint, but her hand was preserved and was visible from under the stones.
Later, the disciples of St. Thekla took their hand to the territory of present-day Armenia, where its relics gained great popularity among believers, after which the miraculous remains were transferred to Tarragona and imprisoned in the Cathedral of the Cathedral, where they are still kept.
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|On foot||A visit to the cathedral is included in the archaeological route, so it is better to get there on foot|
The cathedral is considered the main temple of Tarragona. In size it is the largest Catholic cathedral in Catalonia.
It began to be built at the end of the 12th century in the most elevated part of the city, on the site of the former temple of the Roman emperor Augustus, and was consecrated in honor of the Holy Virgin Mary (1331). The temple has the shape of a Greek cross traditional for such religious buildings. The architectural feature of Tarragona Cathedral is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic style. For example, the dome of the temple is Romanesque, and the windows that adorn it are already Gothic. But despite this, both the outside and the inside of the cathedral look very harmonious.
The cathedral is rightfully proud of its 15th-century altar (author Pere Joan) made of polychrome alabaster. Sculptures on biblical subjects belong to an even earlier period. Inside the cathedral you can see a very beautifully made tombstone of Juan of Aragon, the prelate of Tarragona, who died at the age of 33.
The Cathedral has a Museum of Religious Art, which has collected a unique collection of rare icons and iconostases from the 13th to the 19th century. Here you can admire copper products and rare ceramics, ancient books, tapestries and paintings.