View of Tarragona
Location of Tarragona in Catalonia
|Founded||5th century BC|
|• Mayor||Josep Fèlix Ballesteros (PSC)|
|• Total||55.60 km2 (21.47 sq mi)|
|Elevation(AMSL)||68 m (223 ft)|
|• Density||2,400/km2 (6,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||43001 - 43008|
|Area code(s)||+34 (E) + 977 (T)|
Tarragona (English //, Catalan: [tərəˈɣonə], Spanish: [taraˈɣona]; Phoenician: טַרְקוֹן, Tarqon; Latin: Tarraco) is a port city located in the north-east of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the Tarragona province, and part of the Tarragonès county and Catalonia region. Geographically, it is bordered on the north by the province of Barcelona and the province of Lleida. The city has a population of 134,085.
One Catalan legend holds that it was named for Tarraho, eldest son of Tubal in c. 2407 BC; another (derived from Strabo and Megasthenes) attributes the name to 'Tearcon the Ethiopian', a 7th-century BC pharaoh who supposedly campaigned in Spain. The real founding date of Tarragona is unknown.
In Roman times, the city was named Tarraco and was capital of the province of Hispania Tarraconensis (after being capital of Hispania Citerior in the Republican era). 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 Cossetans, though the identification of Tarragona with Kesse is not certain. 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 75–90 m (250–300 ft) above the sea; whence we find it characterised as arce potens Tarraco. 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). Livy mentions a portus Tarraconis; and according to Eratosthenes it had a naval station or roads (Ναύσταθμον); but Artemidorus says with more probability that it had none, and scarcely even an anchoring place; and Strabo himself calls it ἀλίμενος.
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. Tarraco lies on the main road along the south-eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. 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.
Augustus wintered at Tarraco after his Cantabrian campaign, and bestowed many marks of honour on the city, among which were its honorary titles of Colonia Victrix Togata and Colonia Julia Victrix Tarraconensis. The city also minted coins. According to Mela it was the richest town on that coast, and Strabo represents its population as equal to that of Carthago Nova (modern Cartagena). Its fertile plain and sunny shores are celebrated by Martial and other poets; and its neighbourhood is described as producing good wine and flax.
During the Peninsular War, In the first siege of Tarragona from 5 May to 29 June 1811, Louis Gabriel Suchet's French Army of Aragon laid siege to a Spanish garrison led by Lieutenant General Juan Senen de Contreras. A British naval squadron commanded by Admiral Edward Codrington harassed the French besiegers with cannon fire and transported large numbers of reinforcements into the city by sea. Nevertheless, Suchet's troops stormed into the defenses and killed or captured almost all the defenders.
In the second siege of Tarragona (June 3–11, 1813), an overwhelming Anglo-Spanish force under the command of Lieutenant General John Murray, 8th Baronet failed to wrest Tarragona from a small Franco-Italian garrison led by General of Brigade Antoine Marc Augustin Bertoletti. Murray was subsequently removed from command for his indecisive and contradictory leadership. The Anglo-Spanish forces finally captured Tarragona on 19 August.
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 material 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 kilometres (2 miles) north of the city. It is 217 m (712 ft) in length, and the loftiest arches, of which there are two tiers, are 26 m (85 ft) high. There is a monument about 6 km (4 mi) 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.
Other Roman buildings include:
- The Roman walls
- The capitol, or citadel
- The Amphitheatre
- The Roman circus
- The Pretorium - Tower
- The Forum
- The Necropolis
- The palace of Augustus, called the house of Pilate
- The so-called tower, or sepulchre, of the Scipios
- Arch of Sura, or of Bara
- The Aurelian Way.
The city is also home to the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona.
- The Cathedral, dating to the 12th-13th centuries, combining Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements.
- 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 Sant Francesc
- 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, are the remains of a church called Santa Maria del Miracle (Holy Mary of the Miracle), which belonged to the Knights Templar. It was afterwards used by the Trinitarian Fathers, and was later converted into a penitentiary. It was demolished around 1915.
The seminary of Sant Pau and Santa Tecla was founded in 1570 by the cardinal archbishop, Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta, 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 Sant Pau. Pope Leo XIII raised this to the rank of a pontifical university.
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. 
A number of beaches, some awarded a Blue Flag designation, line the Mediterranean coast near the city.
Food and drink outlets
Tarragona contains a number of small bars, restaurants, and cafes serving tapas and sandwiches, and local seafood and Catalan dishes. Many such outlets are found in the historic centre, including those at the Plaça de la Font, Plaça del Rei and Plaça del Fòrum. The neighbourhood of El Serrallo, at the harbour, specialises in seafood cuisine.
Tarragona has a Mediterranean climate (Csa) with mildly cool winters and warm summers. Autumn and spring tend to be the wettest time of the year, whilst winter and summer have relatively drier days.
|Climate data for Reus Airport (between Reus - 3 km (1.86 mi) and Tarragona - 7 km (4.35 mi))|
|Average high °C (°F)||13.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||8.9
|Average low °C (°F)||4.0
|Precipitation mm (inches)||38
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||4||3||4||6||6||4||2||4||5||5||4||4||51|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||160||164||199||223||243||264||308||264||201||184||160||138||2,509|
|Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
- The Carnival
- Tarragona international dixieland festival. Houses 25 bands and 100 concerts and activities the week before Holy Week.
- Tarraco Viva. A lot of groups around Europe recreate the Roman world: from the Roman legions, to daily life. It's celebrated between 10 and 20 May.
- Tarragona International Fireworks Displays Competition. The competition selects six international pyrotechnic companies every year. Official website1
- Sant Magí Festival, held between 15 and 19 August.
- Santa Tecla Festival, held between 15 and 24 September. It has been celebrated since 1321 and it is considered of national touristic interest by the state.
- Tarragona 2017 XVIII Mediterranean Games, Tarragona was chosen as the venue for the Mediterranean Games in 2017. They will be held in July 2017.
Tarragona was also a candidate to be the Spanish representative as European Capital of Culture in 2016.
Twin towns/Sister cities
Tarragona is twinned with:
Tarragona had partnerships with:
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
- Ptolemy, ii. 6. § 17
- Silvia Orvietani Busch (2001). Medieval Mediterranean Ports: The Catalan and Tuscan Coasts, 1100 to 1235. BRILL. p. 53. ISBN 90-04-12069-6.
- (Auson. Class. Urb. 9; cf. Mart. x. 104.)
- (Mela, ii. 6; Plin. iii. 3. s. 4.)
- (xxii. 22)
- (ap. Strabo iii. p. 159)
- (ap. Strab. l. c.; Polyb. iii. 76)
- (Ford's Handbook of Spain, p. 222.)
- (Itin. Ant. pp. 391, 396, 399, 448, 452.)
- Pliny l. c.; Tacitus Ann. i. 78; Gaius Julius Solinus 23, 26; Polybius x. 34; Livy xxi. 61; Stephanus of Byzantium p. 637.
- (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.)
- (l. c.)
- (Mart. x. 104, xiii. 118; Sil. Ital. iii. 369, xv. 177; Plin. xiv. 6. s. 8, xix. 1. s. 2.)
- (Cf. Ford, Handbook, p. 219, seq.; Florez, Esp. Sagr. xxix. p. 68, seq.; Miñano, Diccion. viii. p. 398.)
- Comisión de Antigüedades de la Real Academia de la Historia: catálogo e índices, Cataluña. Page 256. Published in Spanish, 2000.
- "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Tarragona - Reús / Aeropuerto".
- "Jumelages et Relations Internationales - Avignon". Avignon.fr (in French). Retrieved 2013-07-13.
- "Atlas français de la coopération décentralisée et des autres actions extérieures". Ministère des affaires étrangères (in French). Retrieved 2013-07-13.
- "45 ans de jumelage : Histoire de cités Le jumelage à Voiron" [45 years of twinning: The history of Voiron's twin towns]. Voiron Hôtel de Ville [Voiron council] (in French). Archived from the original on 2013-05-03. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- "Tarragone (Espagne) : une ville amie Des liens noués autour de la Chartreuse" [Tarragona, Spain: Friendship town of Voiron]. Voiron Hôtel de Ville [Voiron council] (in French). Retrieved 2013-09-04.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tarragona.|
- (Catalan) Official Website of Tarragona
- Virtual visit to Tarragona
- Tarragona travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Port of Tarragona