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Guide to Tarragona

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Guide to Tarragona . It Rains in Spain.

Guide to Tarragona – Introduction

Sitting in the south of Catalonia and flanked by the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, Tarragona is a pleasant, low-key coastal city with a handful of interesting monuments and a diverse history.

Supposedly inhabited as far back as the Phonecians, Tarragona came to real prominence under the Roman Emperor Augustus, known rather exhaustingly as Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraco, or simply Tarraco, for short. Augustus made it his capital on the Iberian peninsula, and the city lived through a boom of wealth and prestige, marking the period out as a heyday for Tarragona. It lived through the standard tale of Muslim attack and Christian counter-attack in the years that followed, never recovering the importance that Emperor Augustus bestowed upon the city many years before.

Nowadays, Tarragona makes for an interesting stopover when travelling the coast, harbouring a charming medieval centre, well-preserved Roman remains and a distinctly Catalan identity. The city is compact, with a number of good eateries, although suffers from a shortage of high-quality accomodation. That said, this is the coast of Spain, so if you’re planning on coming in the high-season, book well ahead.

What to See and Do in Tarragona

  1. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Roman ruins – most noteably the magnificent Ampitheatre with views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea behind, but also the Roman Forum and the Roman Circus.
  2. Head to the impressive 12th century Cathedral, highlighting both Gothic and Romanesque influences.
  3. Stroll around Tarragona’s medieval core, starting at the Ramba Vella (the large street opposite the ampitheatre) working your way east  through the narrow streets taking particular note of the Placa de Font, Carrer Major, and the Placa del Rei.
  4. If you’re caught in a spot of bad weather, take shelter in one of Tarragona’s numerous museums, taking your pick from the Museum of Antique Weapons, the Museum of Modern Art, The Maritime Port Museum or the larger and more impressive Archaeoloogical Museum.
  5. Head to the beach! If you’re here in the warm season, Tarragona’s city beach (Miracle) is pleasant enough, or you could make a short trip out of town to a nearby beach along the coast, of which there are numerous.

What to Eat and Drink in Tarragona

We know how tough it can be in a bar or restaurant when you’re visiting a foreign country. Here’s our guide of what local specialities to look for on the menu in Tarragona.

Xarro Tarragoní – The Tarragona take on the traditional Escudella from Catalonia. Fundamentally a soup made with vegetables and a huge meatball. The soup is served first and then the meat and vegetables next. Well worth a try.

Calçots – A long scallion from Valls in Tarragona province, normally served with Romesco Sauce ( made with nut and red pepper) for dipping.

Arrossejat – Toasted rice with fish stock.

Avellanas de Reus – The famous Hazelnuts from nearby Reus are delicious.

Patacó – Tuna and Potato stew

Bull de Tonyína – Another stew but made with salt preserved Tuna gut ( it tastes a lot better than it sounds).

Vermut Yzaguirre or Vermut Miró – Vermouth is popular in the area with Yzaguirre and Miró being two local and loved producers.

Vino de Priorato – The local wine is to be found widely in Tarragona, strong and bold.



Where to Stay in Tarragona

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Reader’s Tips

This section is specifically designed for our readers to share their top tips with other would-be travellers. If you visited a particularly wonderful restaurant, or stayed in a fantastic hotel, or even ate a tremendous local dish, please let us know here! Any tip whatsoever will be greatly appreciated by our Spain loving community of travellers.

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