Tarragona – From Roman Tarraco to lively Catalan town

Another Tuesday in June 2016. Today we visit Tarragona, the Roman capital of Hispania Citerior (then called Tarraco), the medieval town with its Romanesque-Gothic cathedral and the relaxed Ramblas Nuevas of today’s lively Catalan city.

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Train from L’Hospitalet de L ‘Infant to Tarragona – just one left out

The train leaves L’Hospitalet at 8:27, in theory. The next train would leave at 8:55, and this is, when we actually leave. I believe they have just skipped one train. This must be Spain and trains.

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Just a few stairs from the train station to the Ramblas Nuevas

It is just a few stairs from the train station to the Ramblas Nuevas. We have an espresso in this nice bar…

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… and then stroll along the Ramblas. There is a market. Cloths, handbags and shoes are on sale. I buy a blue beach dress for 5 Euro.

Then we head to the old upper town. I notice that there are many multlingual schools in Tarragona.

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No wonder, Catalans already are bilingual to begin with and hence are more open to multilinguality. As compared to earlier visits I have noticed that  the Catalan language is much more present – signs in the town are all in Catalan now – just that and practically no Spanish.

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The walk along the Roman wall (Passeig Arqueológic)

About one kilometer of the old city wall has been preserved. This makes up the Passeig Arqueológic. We walk along the wall, together with many school classes that are learning about their history. The base of the wall is Iberan – these are the rough blocks of stone. The more elaborated stones have been added by the Romans…

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… and some towers have later been fortified to resist gunfires.

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The cathedral of Tarragona – a gem showing the transition from Romanesque to Gothic

Built from 1171 to 1331, the Catedral de Santa Maria demonstrates the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. This is the main facade.

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Inside visitors are allowed to explore all details, also around the choir. This is the nave with the altar.

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The cloister is a place to pray…

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… and also a place to smile at the humor of the sculptor who carved the procession of the rats that carry the dead cat.

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More Roman reminsiscents: The museum, the circ and the amphitheatre

After some tapas we visit the Archaeological Museum.

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Yes, Roman Tarraco has been founded by Scipio Calvus. This is what the town looked like in Roman times.

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The museum has been constructed around the old Roman town wall – the wall became part of the exhibition. What I like most are the mosaics.

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Cute is the special exhibition about the villa Centcelles with children’s drawings.

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Below the archaological museum is the entrance to the old circus.

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After having dived into the Roman past, we take a quick step back to medieval times on the Plaça de la Font,…

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… and then we visit the Roman amphitheatre with its gorgeous view of the sea.

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Back to the Ramblas Nuevas and the tower of people

We return to the Ramblas Nuevas to see the statue of the tower of people (castell). The habit to build such towers is said to demonstrate the will and sprit of the Catalans to cooperate.

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The finale: More than three hours for a half hour journey in train

Our train of 19:09 arrives just a few minutes late to take us back home to L’Hospitalet. We leave, we arrive at Salou, we leave Salou, and then we stand… stand… stand… finally we hear this message: “There was an incident ahead, we apologize”…. We continue to Cambrils and stand… and stand… and stand. It is very cold in this train… we stand… and stand… and around ten at night the doors close and the train continues slowly, but pretty steadily. Shortly before 10:30 we jump on to the platform at L’Hospitalet, find our car and drive back to the apartment. Uff. Will I ever again take a train in Spain? Well later I read that today Zurich had similar problems after someone had set a fire to the SBB railway cabling. Perhaps this delay has happened out of compassion with Zurich? But, more than three hours for a half hour train journey is quite a bit a record for me.

Well subtracting the train incident, our excursion to Tarragona was a wonderful experience.

 

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