The historical and monumental importance of the old Tarraco is reflected in the current Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona (the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona, MNAT), a reference centre for learning about life in this period. Formed during the first half of the 19th century, the MNAT is the oldest Museum in Catalonia within its field and its extensive collection masterfully illustrates the process of Romanisation of the Iberian Peninsula.
Located in a new building since 1960 in which a fragment of the wall has been preserved in situ underground. Among the most outstanding pieces recovered from ancient Tarraco, you can see part of a medallion (clipeus) with the representation of Jupiter-Ammon, the altar dedicated to the Numen of Augustuses (the divine power), a pedestal of a statue with an inscription dedicated to the genius of the Colonia of Tarraco, the statues of Bacchus, Hercules, Claudius and Minerva, the portrait of Nero Julius Caesar and the sarcophagi of the Lion and the Pedagogue.
Meriting their own chapter are the high-quality mosaics which are preserved in the Museum, such as the head of the Medusa -the best of those found in Tarraco- from the residential area of the city; one representing Euterpe, Muse of music, discovered in the Roman villa of Els Munts (Altafulla); the tombstone of Optimus, mosaic with inscription, found in the Early-Christian Necropolis in Tarragona; and the mosaic of the Fish which decorated a room of the Roman villa of Callípolis, in the municipality of Vila-seca.
Among the most extraordinary pieces at MNAT, is an articulated ivory doll found in the sarcophagus of a girl in the Paleochristian Necropolis and the bronze lamp decorated with a representation of a theatrical mask from the Roman villa of la Llosa.
In addition to the Archaeological Museum, MNAT manages the Museum and Early-Christian Necropolis, the Roman villa of Els Munts (Altafulla) and the Roman villa of Centcelles (Constantí). It also includes the famous monuments of the Arch of Berà and the Tower of the Scipios – situated on the Via Augusta – as well as the Roman Theatre in the city. A complex of the highest order which has been a World Heritage Site since 2000 and which takes the visitor closer to a fundamental period in European history.
Enjoy the extraordinary legacy of ancient Tarraco with activities arranged by MNAT at the Archaeological Museum and monumental centres in the region. The Museum also offers a wide range of educational activities for children.