Tarragona, formerly known as Tarraco during the Roman times, used to be the capital of the Roman province – Hispania Citerior. The main attractions of the city are the Roman ruins, consisting of a colosseum and a circus, located next to the Mediterranean Sea. I must admit that I have a fetish for Roman ruins. It makes me excited every time I see Roman ruins and it is one of those things that lure me back to Europe. I have seen the Roman ruins in Lyon and in Tarragona and I want more. I already marked out some cities on my to-go list which have the ruins – Segovia, Mérida, Nîmes, Pompeii, Rome (of course!). But that’s not the only reason why I like to visit Europe. I also have a little crush on small European cities which are easily covered by foot and the history and grandeur of bigger European cities.
Eva and I got to Tarragona from Barcelona via the inter-city train. It took us about 1.5 hours to get there. It was a very scenic and enjoyable ride as we got to admire the blue Mediterranean Sea for a substantial portion of the journey. I love it. 🙂
Eva’s ex-neighbour happened to be living there so she showed us around the city. She owned numerous ice cream shops in Tarragona and she kindly treated us to the delicious ice cream. The Spanish ice cream is delicious and it tasted a lot like the Italian Gelato. I guess the Italians are better as compared to the Spaniards in selling their ice cream to the world. Her ex-neighbour later brought us to her apartment with a sea view (for this, I am jealous of her!) and cooked lunch for us. What awesome hospitality!
The highlight of Tarragona is the well-preserved colosseum which is one of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It seems that they hold some kind of events there periodically. I do not know which I like most – the colosseum, the sea or the weather. It was quite a beautiful day for a day trip.
Right beside the colosseum is a Roman garden. Eva said that Roman gardens are simpler and symmetrical as compared to the gardens built by people who came afterwards. Right behind the Roman garden is a circus where they used to have some kind of horse racing. Apparently, the tracks formerly used for horse racing are now buried underground and they run from the circus towards the inner part of the city. There are other Roman ruins in Tarragona as well, including a tower and a gate. Eva also told me that people initially didn’t know the significance of these ruins and they actually took the rocks and used them for construction purposes. So interestingly, some coastal buildings in Tarragona were partly made up of the rocks from the ruins.
To make our day even better, we also happened to stumble upon a local Roman festival. Local people dressed up in Roman costumes and there were many booths whereby there were many items from the Roman Era on display and local people explained different aspects of people’s lives back in the Roman times – how they cooked, how they made clothes, how they made ornaments etc. There was also a performance and the performers pretended to be fighting a war. It was a rather informative performance as a narrator told the audience interesting facts about warfare in those days. Eva translated parts of the narration for me and apparently, social class was a very important marker during the Roman Empire and you could easily distinguish the different social classes from the way the soldiers dressed- poor people worn shabby clothes while richer people had armours. She also explained to me that one quick way to ascend the social ladder was to win battles and that was part of the reason why people kept waging war on one another at that time.
I miss those days. ❤