Tarragona and its surrounding area retains important traces of the Roman influence in the Iberian Peninsula. The archaeological complex of Tarraco was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000: the urban development of the city, as well as the density and the quality of the remains, make it a universal and incomparable asset.
The archaeological complex includes several monuments from the 3rd century BC until the 6th century AD, which are very well preserved. All of these are characteristic of provincial capitals, as was ancient Tarraco. The walls are notable for being the oldest construction in the city and an example of military engineering. Of the forum, the large square in which much of public life was focused, a section of arcade of the Basilica and part of a street are preserved; the rest of the complex is still hidden beneath the footprints of the modern buildings.
The theatre was built in an area outside the walls, very close to the forum and, as was usual, made use of the slope of the land. The three elements that define a Roman Theatre have been partially preserved: cavea (or the tiered seating), orchestra and scaena (stage). In the circus, the space where the cart races were run, a good part of the vaults and some sections of terracing, the remains of the façade and the podium, can be seen today, as well as some of the monumental doors through which the building was accessed.
But without doubt, the amphitheatre is the most iconic of the Roman trail in the city, and completes the trilogy of theatrical buildings. The characteristic arena is present – where all the spectacles were performed - surrounded by the cavea to accommodate the public; the remains visible today in the arena are from the Basilica and the Romanesque church of Santa Maria del Miracle ( 12th century), built on the same spot where the popular Saints of Tarragona, Fructuós, Auguri and Eulogi, suffered martyrdom.
On the outskirts of the city, near the Francolí River, the Early-Christian Necropolis constitutes one of the most extensive and important burial areas of Tarraco: this exceptional cemetery is considered the largest and most important in the whole of the west of the Roman Empire, with more than 2,000 burials.
Around Tarraco we find other buildings of great importance such as the Ferreres Aqueduct (Devil's bridge), the Triumphal Arch of Barà, the mausoleum of Centcelles, the Mèdol quarry and the Villa of Els Munts, among others.
Founded as a military camp by Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, Tarraco prospered both thanks to its coastal location and to its position in relation to the land routes to the interior of the peninsula. Thus, the city became a Roman colony, head of a conventus -a judicial demarcation - and capital of the province of Hispania Citerior and Tarraconensis.
- Stroll through Tarragona while discovering the remains of the Roman Tarraco around the city.
- Relive the Roman epoch with the Tarraco Viva festival which is held every May.