Dawn To Dusk: 11 Snapshots Of The Sun At Tarragona, Spain- Mediterranean Sea Chronicles 5
Port de Tarragona, Tarragona, Spain
The most important maritime center of Spain – Port de Tarragona. It plays a major role in the economy of the country. The Port of Tarragona consist of a commercial and industrial seaport, marinas, a cruise terminal and the old fishing port of the city. While Greek sailors used this port for trade, the Romans built docks and a lighthouse on its present site. As a Roman colony in 45 B.C. Port of Tarragona exported oil, wine and wheat. It imported ceramics, glass and other manufactured products. When the Moors occupied Spain in the succeeding centuries, the port became stagnant. Much later in the 12th century when Tarragona became a part of the Aragon kingdom, it flourished again until the 19th century. In the 1960s, the Port of Tarragona became the hub of commerce in Spain as a result of the petrochemical boom in the country. New buildings, facilities and docks were added in the 1990s to accommodate new generations of vessels and cargoes.
Tarragona is the capital city of Tarragona province and perched on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea along Costa Dorada in northeastern Spain. It is located at the mouth of the Francoli River. At one point it used to be a settlement area of an Iberian tribe and later taken by Roman generals Aneus and Publius Scipio in 218 B.C. According to legends, St. Paul established the Christian Church in Tarragona in 60 C.E. (common era). In 714 A.D., Tarragona fell to the Moors and later retaken by the Christian kings in the 12th century. It eventually became a part of the Aragon kingdom until the founding of the Spanish Empire in 1516. After the death of King Ferdinand, his grandson Charles I became Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor from the Hapsburg bloodline. In 1715, Philip V from the royal house of Bourbon became king that ended the Hapsburg dynasty. The Bourbons will rule Spain in the coming centuries until the present. Civil war and dictatorship came in between and in 1982, the Spaniards finally accepted their constitution. Tarragona is a part of the Catalonia region in Spain. Tarragonins use both Catalan and Spanish languages.
Between 1996-1999 on 4 different crude carriers (Knock Muir, Knock Sheen, Knock Stocks and Knock Dun), I’d been in Tarragona. This city is a very important economic hub of the Catalonia region. It is the 2nd most important financial center next to Barcelona. The petrochemical industry in Tarragona makes up 25% of the chemical industry in the whole of Spain thus this city is the chemical hub of Southern Europe. Since it used to be a Roman city named Tarraco, Tarragona has a rich Roman heritage. The sites and walls still exist and many of its modern buildings and structures were actually built upon the ruins of the Roman period. Indeed, Tarragona is timeless, an elegant mix of the past and present. It shines with its Roman legacy, interlaced with its golden coastline and fascinating culinary scene. The city has many points of interest but I’ve selected 11 snapshots of the sun from dawn to dusk at Tarragona, Spain to give you an introduction to this amazing Spanish town.
Amfiteatro de Tarragona
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Amfiteatro de Tarragona was built in the 2nd century when the city was the seat of the vast Roman Empire outside Italy. In its peak, this amphitheater was the scene of gladiator fights and hunting ground for wild animals. During the persecution of Christians under the Roman period, a Bishop Fructouso and his 2 deacons Augustus and Fulsius were burned to death on its arena by the order of then Emperor Valerian. When Christianity finally swept Spain, a Visigoth (early Germanic people) Church was constructed in memory of the 3 martyrs. Later it was rebuilt into a Romanesque-Gothic Church in the 12th century. In the 1700s, it became a convent then into a prison in the 18th-19th centuries. A section of the seating stands has remained at modern times which is carved directly into the rock, with its back from the sea. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, here is a snapshot of the sun at dawn on Amfiteatro de Tarragona, Tarragona, Spain.
Catedral de Santa Maria de Tarragona
Built on the site where it was once a temple of the Roman god, Jupiter is a snapshot of the afternoon sun at Catedral de Sta. Maria in Tarragona, Spain. It started as a Romanesque structure in the 12th century and later changed in to a Gothic style in the 14th century. Baroque-designed chapels were later added and the Church was consecrated in 1331. It has an unfinished facade, which is quite intriguing, because of the Black Death pandemic that ravaged the region from 1346-53. Set high on a hill overlooking the city, its billowing entrance and the rose window above it are one of the hypnotic images in Tarragona.
El Pont del Diable (Les Ferrerres Aqueduct)
Two thousand years ago, the Romans built an aqueduct to bring water from Francoli River for the ancient city of Tarraco (now Tarragona). After the fall of the Roman Empire, most of the parts of Les Ferreres Aqueduct (Pont del Diable) which was once a proof to Roman engineering, fell into ruins. The awesome surviving section that spans a quaint village 4 km north of Tarragona has been preserved and restored over the years. A snapshot of the sun shining on Pont del Diable, Tarragona, Spain located on a wooded park is a beautiful site to visit. You can actually walk on the upper layer which contains 25 arches and 11 arches underneath. It was called Pont del Diable (Devil’s Bridge) due to a legend which tells that it was built by the Devil himself after winning a bet in which a beautiful lady sold her soul for it.
It was the Upper Town (Part Alta) in the old quarter of Tarragona. Narrow streets twist their way through the shadows of old buildings and remnants of the city’s Roman walls then out into the open air of lovely squares. In Part Alta, you can feel the spirit of old Tarragona with a snapshot of the sun at dusk where Roman kings and emperors once walked. A must-see destination when in Tarragona, Spain.
Balco del Mediterrari
Rising 40 meters above the Mediterranean Sea, Balco del Mediterrari offers a splendid view to the sea and Tarragona Port. A snapshot of the sun glancing down over the horizon from the Mediterranean balcony is a place so loved by Tarragonins. The railings were designed by Ramon Solar i Ricoma in 1889. A legend tells that touching said railings (known as tocar ferro) brings good luck. Don’t forget that when you visit Tarragona, Spain someday. Who knows, with all the smartness in the world, you may be in for some good luck?
Tarragona’s main artery. Rambla Nova, a little above 150 years old and has the largest concentration of businesses in the city. A snapshot of the sun at Rambla Nova in Tarragona, Spain, integrated into an architectural district is a stand out for its structures and history. Away from the hustle and bustle of vehicles, it’s a pedestrian only area here in Tarragona. Lined with palm trees, cafes, shops and so much more at both sides of the road, it is a nice area to leave the traffic behind and explore the colors of the city or just sit down on the benches and watch people pass by. And because Rambla Nova is located in the historic center of Tarragona, you can find more ancient Roman ruins inside the shops.
A snapshot of the sun at dusk over El Serrallo, the old fisherman’s quarter of Tarragona, Spain has its own personality and charm. On this part of Tarragona, it is where you can have the chance to taste the best catch from Costa Dorada in its restaurants with their terraces facing the Mediterranean Sea. An area where tradition and modern life merge, it is indeed a lovely place to walk around, admiring also the colorful fishing boats docked at the area.
It is a pretty medieval village, well preserved. A snapshot of the sun at Montblanc (Catalan pronunciation: mum’blan) in Tarragona, Spain, sometimes dubbed as a little city inside a wall. Bearing the title of a Ducal town (relating to a duke) since the Middle Ages it is a quaint village of old houses, a pretty Gothic Church (Catedral de la Santa Maria de la Major) and a bridge that dates back to the Roman period. It is a good place to visit and get a glimpse of what life was during the medieval times.
Paella Negra (Arroz Negre)
Paella Negra a.k.a. Arroz Negra, a snapshot of the sun at this savory rice cooked in squid ink and topped with pieces of seafood. This is the iconic dish of Tarragona, Spain. Somewhat similar to seafood paella, if you love squid ink Arroz Negra is a must-try when you are in the city. It is served with alioli (garlicky olive oil mayonaise) which is a dip for the potato side dish of arroz negra.
Concurs de Castell
A snapshot of the sun on Concurs de Castell, a celebration held every 2 years in Tarragona, Spain. Everyday, people climb up on each other’s back and unto shoulders to make the tallest human pyramid. Even children from 5 years old take part. Celebrated in Spain since the 18th century, it is meant to symbolize the Valencian dance. Each contestant wears a black sash called a faixa that provides a much-needed back support.
Santa Tecla Festival
Tarragona‘s main 10-day festival held in September. A snapshot of the sun on Feste De Santa Tecla, Tarragona, Spain is the pride and joy of its people. Santa Tecla is the patroness of the city. The origins of this festival go back to 1321 when the arm relic of the saint arrived back from Armenia. For over a week, residents of Tarragona and visitors included go out on the streets to take part in this festive occasion. There is no other time of the year as joyous as during this enormous event of Feste de Santa Tecla. She was one of the early Christians and a follower of Saint Paul, the Apostle. A young woman of nobility Santa Thecla (or Tecla) was miraculously saved from burning at stake as her punishment for following the Christian teachings of St.Paul. She became a healer and performed many miracles but always persecuted. She lived in a cave for 72 years in Syria and when her persecutors were after her, she cried out to God for help and a new passage was opened for her in the cave. She later went to Rome and died beside the tomb of St. Paul.
I’d like to say “gracies” (in Catalan) for joining me in this virtual trip to Tarragona. It always remain as one of Spain‘s best-kept secrets and I strongly recommend this city to anyone who is planning to travel when the world is ready for an adventure again. If you are looking for a holiday with a mix of relaxation and history in Southern Europe, look no further than this heart of Costa Dorrada. Tarragona, Spain- where historians and screen writers never cease to discover and show the world how impressive she is. Que Deu et beneeixi.