The Roman ruins at Tarragona
Located around 95km (60 miles) south of Barcelona, Tarragona was the site of an ancient Iberian settlement, but it was the Romans, in the 3rd century BC, who established it as an important military and political base. Tarraco, as it was then known, quickly grew to a population of 30,000 and minted its own currency. By 27BC it was the capital of Tarraconensis, the largest Roman province on the Iberian peninsula.
The town now has some of the finest Roman remains to have survived in Spain. Its most impressive Roman monument, the first-century Pont del Diable, is some 4km north of the town centre, off the N240 towards Lleida (Lérida). The ‘Devil’s Bridge’ is actually a perfectly preserved two-storey aqueduct, which spans 217m (712ft) and rises to a height of 27m (88ft) above the ground.
Back in the city centre, to get a glimpse of the old city, you can take a walk along the Passeig Arqueològic. This follows the top of the old city walls, which enclose a maze of charming medieval streets.
Medieval Tarragona’s pride and joy is its cathedral, the largest in Catalunya, founded in 1171 but not consecrated until 1333. The 12th- to 13th-century cloister is an attraction in its own right, while the Museu Diocesà has a fine collection of art treasures and Flemish tapestries.