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Tarragona - Costa Dorada

Tarragona is situated on the northeast coast of Spain, on Costa Dorada, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Tarragona is one of the four capitals of Catalonia and is only 92 kilometres from Barcelona. Tarragona is very well communicated with two international airports; El Prat-Barcelona, at 82km and Reus, at 7km.

The average annual temperature in Tarragona on Costa Dorada is 18º, 25º in summer and 12º in winter. Tarragona city has a population of close to 142,000.

Tarragona has managed to care and respect for the legacy left to them by the Romans. As a result the Roman archaeological collection of Tarraco that lives on today was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2000. The 14 elements that received this recognition were: the Roman Walls, the Imperial Cult Enclosure, the Provincial Forum, the Circus, the Amphitheatre, the Colonial Forum, the Roman Theatre, the Paleochristian Cemetery, The “Centcelles” Villa-Mausoleum, the Aqueduct, the Tower of the Scipios, the Médol Quarry, the “dels Munts” Villa and the Triumphal Arch of Berá.

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Tarragona is a place that has a lot to offer in the way of leisure and free-time, the visitor will be surprised at the variety of options that can be adapted to his/her preferences. On the one hand, the more active visitors can enjoy the sports port, underwater park, the urban cave, the golf course and the heated swimming pools. For culture lovers there’s a theatre, an auditorium and a Casino. Guided tours of the city are also available for those who wish to have a more in-depth experience of the places of most interest in the city.

The city Tarragona has a number of theatrical shows playing on a regular basis throughout the year, in the Metropol Theatre, in autumn, winter and spring. During the summer theatrical events take place in the Theatre Auditorium Campo de Marte, in the open air at the foot of the roman walls. It’s also worth mentioning the theme park Port Aventura at only 10 kilometres from the city centre that welcomes thousands of visitors everyday.

Another of the highlights in Tarragona can be found in the 15 kilometres of coast line that provide easily accessible beaches, attractive coves with fine sands and crystalline waters. Comfort is guaranteed with a wide range of services and options that have resulted in an annual recognition in the form of blue flags for the urban beaches and for protecting the environment on ecological beaches.  

The ecosystem on the beaches in Tarragona is also very rich: there is a great diversity of plants and birds which means that you can still find very well preserved areas that are protected by the law: the Spaces of Natural Interest Plan (PEIN) for Punta de la Mora and the natural space in the outlet of the river Gaiá and Tamarit beach. In these areas educational itineraries and activities are available for associations, groups, schools, institutions and universities so that they can discover the features of these natural spaces.

Tarragona is a city with a clear maritime vocation with a mild and agreeable climate; therefore it is logically an ideal place to practice any sport you like, above all, of the water and nautical variety: sailing, windsurfing, rowing, water-skiing and skin diving. All of these sports are available at the city’s Nautical Club or the Maritime Club in Playa Larga.

The Real Club Náutico (Royal Nautical Club) in Tarragona has an extensive sports port, with 400 moorings, a proportion of which are reserved for temporary residents.

The Playa Larga Sailing Club also offers an opportunity to enjoy light sailing. There is also an “underwater park” on the jetty which also offers skin diving and sells beautiful photographs of the sea bed.

The Tarragona Gymnastics Club stands out within the cities sporting endeavours. It’s the oldest sports club in Spain, founded in 1886. Tarragona also has a golf club, the “Costa Daurada” with 18 holes.

Three important events have been inscribed in the sports calendar of Tarragona City: the half Marathon (November), the Popular Cycling event (May) and the San Silvestre race (The last day of the year).


Heritage, gastronomy, leisure, shopping and much more is what’s on offer in Tarragona. All of this is available to anyone who has a TarraGO!na Card. This card can be found in tourist information offices, hotels and campsites in Tarragona. It is organised into time periods: 24, 48 and 72 hours for the price of €14, €19 and €24 respectively. With the purchase of the TarraGO!na Card you will receive the card, free passes on the city’s buses and a guide with all the monuments and establishments included. With the TarraGO!na Card you get in free to all the museums of the city, it also allows you to access the 22 areas that appear on the guide, as well as enjoying the guided tours prepared by the PMTT (The Tarragona Municipal Patron of Tourism) of the city. Moreover, there are discounts on: taxis, leisure establishments, restaurants, shops and free hours of city car. There are over 100 offers available to the visitor with this card.

The TarraGO!na Card is an invitation to sample the rich and varied cuisine, to find what you’re looking for in the shops, to enjoy free time, and to visit the artistic and architectural riches of the city. Tarragona awaits you with a made to measure stay to enjoy the delights of the Mediterranean and all their sensations!


The Tarragona Municipal Patron of Tourism offers the possibility of enjoying four routes through the city accompanied by an official guide. The duration of these tours is 2 hours and they are directed at individual groups (not organised collectives):

-          Roman Tarragona

-          Medieval Tarragona

-          Modernist Tarragona

-          Tarragona – Jubilee


 Festivals in Tarragona

Tarragona is a city of light and colour. Its wonderful climate, Mediterranean character, friendly atmosphere and the hospitality of its people make it a great place for leisure, both festive and cultural, in the open air. Tarragona is synonymous with Fiesta (parties) and the fiesta is lived in the street. The city hosts regular musical and theatrical productions as well as a diversity of leisure and cultural events that have gained international acclaim. Tarragona’s festive calendar covers the entire year with its range of traditional festivals, both local and regional.

Tarragona offers a wide variety of traditional festivals to its visitors, such as its carnivals. During the two weeks prior to Easter the International Dixieland Festival is celebrated, it is currently the only one of its type in Spain. Tradition and spirituality coexist at Easter in Tarragona, being the most time-honoured in Spanish Mediterranean, with its Santo Enterro procession taking place in the afternoon on Good Friday. It originated in 1550 and has been declared Traditional Festival of National Interest by the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Roman History Popularization open days called Tarraco Viva, celebrated in the second two weeks of May, allow the visitor to contemplate reproductions of life during Roman times. Trials, military parades, and gladiator fights are relived and dishes eaten by our Roman ancestors can be sampled in restaurants of the city.

During the summer months exciting performances by the Castellers (human castles) can be enjoyed. In Tarragona there are four colles (groups) that raise up daredevil castles of up to nine stories high. Also during the summer months the Festival d’Estiu (ETC) (summer festival) takes place, consisting of theatrical, musical, dance and cinematic events as well as a classical music show, a Kesse show of new trends in music and from all over the world, open air dance series, etc.

During the entire first week of July the International Fireworks Competition is held. 19th August is Sant Magí, the city’s patron saint. Over four or five days the Castells (human castles), the Sant Magí procession, night parties, rock, jazz and habaneras (music from Havana, Cuba) serve as preparation for the grand festival of Santa Tecla.·The Festa Mayor (patron saint festival) is commemorated on 23rd September in honour of the city’s female patron saint, Santa Tecla, originally from 1370. This festival was declared Traditional Festival of National Interest by the Generalitat de Catalunya and Festival of National State and Tourist Interest by the Spanish Government. Over ten days Santa Tecla fills the city with an explosion of happiness, music, colour and tradition. All the traditional elements participate in the Popular Procession, including the richest combination of dances and spoken dances as conserved within Catalonia. And now you can enjoy the House of the Festival, which opened recently.

The first Sunday of October of every even year is the day chosen for the main 18 colles castellers (human castle groups) of Catalonia to congregate in the bull ring for a long, controversial and exciting Castells Competition.

In the month of November a Setmana Literaria (Literary Week) is organised and the Literary Prizes of the City of Tarragona are awarded in different sections: poetry, narrative, theatre and translation. During the Christmas period the city becomes colourful with the lights put up all around the streets and squares and a Christmas Fair is held in the Rambla Nova, as well as an important exhibition of nativity scenes.

Food, wine and shopping in Tarragona - Dining and shopping in Tarragona

The varied cuisine in Tarragona, its excellent wines and a booming commercial zone have transformed this city into a singular destination for all lovers of a good table. The visitor can sample a gastronomy that balances the valued produce of the sea with those of the land. Abundant and fresh fish obtained from the greatest traditional fishing port in Catalonia is combined with rich agriculture. This permits the creation of a native cuisine with a special flavour and a touch of genuine personality.

A taste must be had of by far the best traditional dish on offer: romesco; a thick sauce made from nuts, grown in the countryside of Tarragona, such as almonds, toasted hazelnuts. This sauce is a wonderful accompaniment to fish: angler fish, bass, hake, prawns, king prawns and scampi, cooked in an earthenware pan. Some seafood restaurants in the city have gained a name for themselves for their rice dishes and rossejats (sautéed rice). And to accompany such succulent delicacies a magnificent wine list is available with Tarragona Denomination of Origin. “In vino veritas”, wine will make you tell the truth, and the truth is that in honour of this expression Tarragona is proud of its wines. Wines that, without pretensions of nobility, can be present on the best tables and play a good part.

The city’s commerce has improved dramatically over the last decade and now has some quality contributions to make; more and better services. There is a perfect coexistence between the small establishments rooted in the commercial fabric of the city for many years, where more personalized attention can be received, with recently incorporated franchises and large retail outlets. The great advantage of Tarragona is that shopping can be done on foot in the various pedestrian areas or along the Rambla Nova, a veritable artery of the city. In the Parte Alta some shops preserve Roman remains in their interiors. The Via T is a commercial zone where shopping can be done in the open air and in which shops from the city centre also participate.

Tarragona: Getting There and Away

There are direct train links to the most important capital cities in Spain and Europe. Tarragona has two train stations: one situated in the centre of the city, providing connections to regional and long distance national and international train services. The other, high speed train (AVE) station Camp de Tarragona, is only ten minutes from the centre, inaugurated on 19th December 2006, and represents a significant improvement in the exterior connection between Tarragona and in its interchange with high performance train lines. The new station provides a wide range of connections with Barcelona, Lleida, Madrid and, soon, the rest of Europe.

Moreover, the city has a commercial port that sees some of the most frequent traffic in the Mediterranean, and along with the Puerto Tarraco, an area designated to receive luxury cruise liners, the port will be considered the most modern, safe and accommodating European marinas for mega yachts.

Tarragona is also the cross-over point of two of the main motorways in Spain: one that connects Alicante to France and the rest of Europe, and the Northern motorway that begins in Tarragona and goes up as far as the Basque Country.

The city rises up on a hill that acts as a natural lookout, the “balcony of the Mediterranean that is always open to the sea”. It ranges over 62.64 Km². 

 Tarragona History


Tarragona, rightful heiress to the Tarraco Empire, is a unique city that has managed to successfully combine its Roman legacy and medieval ancestors with its genuine gems of modernist architecture and to become a privileged tourist destination.

Legend has it that the god Jupiter left his wife, the mortal Tiria, when he fell in love with Tarragona, a city that captivated him. The story tells that in the 3rd century B.C. the Romans established themselves strategically in this place.

To find out about the origins of the city one must delve into Tarraco. This was the first stable Roman military bases to be situated outside the Italian peninsula and where the backbone of Spain was to be. In 218 B.C. a city was rapidly constructed that was to be, years later, the capital of the Hispania Citerior (Hither Spain) or Tarraconensis.

Captivated by the beauty of its beaches and wonderful climate, the Romans designed a town plan that was adapted to the complicated topography of the land, with the construction of artificial terraces.

Tarraco founded a strategic enclave to break the indigenous rebellions of the republican era; it was here that Cesar gathered all his legions before entering Rome and where Augustus resided from 27-26 B.C., a time when Tarraco was the centre of political decision making for the whole of the Roman Empire. The city became one of the most important urban centres in the Western Mediterranean.

Tarragona has managed to care and respect for the legacy left to them by the Romans. As a result the Roman archaeological collection of Tarraco that lives on today was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2000. The 14 elements that received this recognition were: the Roman Walls, the Imperial Cult Enclosure, the Provincial Forum, the Circus, the Amphitheatre, the Colonial Forum, the Roman Theatre, the Paleochristian Cemetery, The “Centcelles” Villa-Mausoleum, the Aqueduct, the Tower of the Scipios, the Médol Quarry, the “dels Munts” Villa and the Triumphal Arch of Berá.

To discover the Roman city a route can be taken along 1,000 meters that have been preserved and follow the line of the ancient Roman WALL, the construction of which began in the 11th century B.C. using blocks of stone extracted from the MÈDOL QUARRY from which a 16 metre tall obelisk has been conserved.

If you continue the walk through the streets of the Historic Centre you can admire the remains of the PROVINCIAL FORUM, headquarters of the public administration for the Roman Province of Tarraconensis of 1st century B.C.

The CIRCUS is a must for any visitor, built in the 1st century A.D. its headpiece is most well conserved in the whole of Europe. It had the capacity to accommodate 30,000 spectators.

Another of the places that had a great impact on Roman civilisation was the AMPHITHEATRE. It was built in the 2nd century A.D. in the shape of an ellipse and could hold up to 14,000 spectators. Inside all kinds of spectacles with gladiators and wild beasts took place. The enclosure also served as a place of martyrdom for the first known Tarraco Christians: the bishop Fructuosus and his two deacons Eulogius and Augurius.

Another must for visitors is the COLONIAL FORUM, situated in the Southwest corner of the walled enclosure. It was built in approximately 30 A.D. and this is where the social life of the city took place.

In the lower part of Tarragona the ROMAN THEATRE built at the beginning of the 1st century A.D. and currently in stages of restoration, can be found.

Moving outside the city centre the PALEOCHRISTIAN CEMETERY can be found. This is one of the most important monuments in the Roman Empire and was discovered in the 1920s, and recorded as containing 2,051 tombs.

Visit the ROMAN AQUEDUCT or “Devil’s Bridge” and you will see why Roman engineering was ahead of its time and why some of their other methods live on today. It was built in the 1st century A.D., it was 15 kilometers long, of which 217 meters have been conserved to this day.

You could also visit the remains of the “DELS MUNTS” VILLA, in Atafulla, at 10 kilometers from Tarragona in the direction of Barcelona. This peculiar space was a country residence for nobles. In Constantí, at 5 kilometers in the direction of Lleida, the “CENTCELLES” VILLA-MAUSOLEUM can be found with its magnificent mosaics.

If you enter the city from the N-340 road, from Barcelona, you will see the TRIUMPHAL ARCH OF BERÁ, built in Ví Augusta in the 1st century B.C. At 3 kilometers from the city centre the TOWER OF THE SCIPIOS was erected, a burial ground from the 1st century A.D. 

The entire city of Tarragona is one great museum that should be visited little by little, without haste. The traces of its Roman past can be found by just walking around, or going into the bars and restaurants situated in some of the many buildings that have conserved their roots. It was the Roman civilisation that has left the most evidence of its presence in the area. And we must remember that the city of Tarraco was the first and oldest Roman settlement in Spain.

For all these reasons the recognition of Roman Tarragona as a WORLD HERITAGE SITE by UNESCO endorses the value and extraordinary relevance of its archaeological and monumental legacy, putting the city on the map of great routes for cultural tourism and awakening an interest in many people who, otherwise, might not have considered the significance of Tarragona or given it the respect it deserves.



Medieval Tarragona offers a singular revelation to the visitor. The city was an important ecclesiastical enclave during this period and acquired magnificent examples of religious and stately artwork. From 1171 the building of churches Santa Maria del Milagro, Sant Pau, and Santa Tecla la Vella began. A hospital for the poor was also built as well as the current Torre del Pretorio (Praetorian Tower) and the Cathedral, which was not finished due to lack of funding, but which was consecrated in 1331, and is really worth a visit.

Its magnitude and the riches contained within make it a unique monument, of its type, in Catalonia. La Seo (Cathedral) was begun with Roman plans and was concluded with a Gothic style main façade.

The bell tower combines a Romanesque base with a Gothic body. Features such as the panelled ceiling, the ornamental stonework on its walls, its stone retables, the stained-glass windows, and especially the central rose window, the High Alter, the Renaissance chapel and the chapel of Los Sastres are all worth remembering.

The Cloister has a rectangular floor. Its collection of sculptures is one of the most remarkable of all the Roman artwork in Catalonia. To experience the ecclesiastic importance of Tarragona it is worth visiting the Diocesan Museum, where a significant collection of tapestries can be found.



The modern day Tarragona offers the visitor many places of interest. From the 16th century until the beginning of the 19th the city became a stronghold and the advanced block houses of Sant Jordi and Reina Maria Estuardo were built at a point in the beach called Milagro. During this period houses of nobility were built, including: Canals, Montoliu and Castellarnau, with some magnificent interior patios, and the Antigua Audiencia (ancient high court).

The current building of the Casa Castellarnau dates from the beginning if the 15th century. It was the residence of some of the most influential families in the city. Carlos I lived there during his stay in Tarragona.



On the Modernist route a visit to the Teatro Metropol is a must, it really is an architectural gem. Built in 1908 by the Tarragonese architect Josep Mª Jujol (1879-1949), who was a direct disciple of Antoni Gaudí. Jujol created a marvellous piece for the city: a part of the altar of the santuario de Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Corazón (Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart). The architect Doménech i Muntaner also left evidence of his work in the city in the Mausoleum of Jaume I. Walking around the city the visitor will find some unique Modernist buildings, especially in the Rambla Nova.


The setting up of the Fair and Conference Hall has supposed a point of inflection for the celebration of international conferences that have served as a calling card for the promotion and diffusion of tourism in Tarragona. The city is already a benchmark within the ambit known as Meeting Tourism. Tarragona is an ideal place to plan conferences, conventions or incentive trips with a guarantee of success. It has modern equipment among which the Fair and Conference Hall stands out, it’s a singular building with extensive modern installations that incorporate advanced technical features. Working to its full capacity this building is reminiscent of Tarragona’s imperial past. It has been constructed in the city’s ancient quarry and still preserves the attractiveness of the stone and noble materials throughout the area.

Parallel to this significant growth in conference tourism is the birth of the Tarragona Convention Bureau, with the aim of promoting different areas within the region of Tarragona as an ideal destination within the market of meetings and to channel the commercial relationship between conference promoters and companies of associated services.  




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