Tarragona: ancient Roman city

Amphitheater, built 2nd Century AD.

Mom’s visit after school let out at the end of May provided a great excuse to visit another area on our bucket list: Tarragona, a Catalan port city on the Costa Daurada (Golden Coast) of the Mediterranean, south of Barcelona and north of Valencia.

Taking a walk with Mom along the Mediterranean.

The city, known as Tarraco during the Roman Empire, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its wealth of Roman ruins.

Amphitheater next to the sea.
Circus, once used for horse and chariot races.

The region of Catalonia is just a short coastal train journey from where we were living in the Valencian Community. But, of course, our train was a few minutes late again… Dreamer is never pleased when this happens, though by now you’d think she’d realize why the picture is being taken.

Castellón de la Plana train station.

Shortly after arriving, we headed for the port, as Tarragona is a maritime city with a large fishing industry. Unfortunately, this is as close as we got to the wholesale fish market, and not for lack of trying. Professionals only!

Tarraco was a hub on the Roman empire’s road network. Many relics have been discovered and preserved, such as those displayed at the Paleochristian Museum and Necropolis.

Old Roman graves, dug up and put on display.

MORT: it’s not just the French word for death!

The National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona impressed us with its many legitimate artifacts from the area. We were particularly astonished by the manifold examples of one particular type…

Look closely at the one in the foreground, too.
And the counterpart…
For use as jewelry as well! Highest reproduction rates guaranteed.

Recognize this guy from above? Here he is in his natural habitat, topping an oil lamp.

There was a motley collection of old busts and statues as well. Strangely enough, over the years, there seems to be one part that gets worn off before everything else.

Got’cher nose!

Doer has Marcus Aurelius hair.
Lots of lovely old mosaics.
Ancient marionette.
Romulus and Remus – suckle, suckle!

Before it was built, the site of the local cathedral was home to a Roman temple, a Visigoth cathedral, and a mosque.

Found adorning the bars to one of those sideshow chapels: we’ll put a coin in the box just to prevent it from haunting our dreams at night!

Dreamer believes this is St. Michael.
Kid really wants that fruit!

It’s fascinating to see newer, more modern buildings juxtaposed with the older sites and ruins.

Two things in this picture that need a haircut.

We also enjoyed just sitting by the port and taking in a cocktail or two.


This old locomotive was also down by the waterfront. Doer is trying to do an impression of it here or something.

You can never stray too far from history in Tarragona. The Roman amphitheater lies steps away from the sea.

There is also a great museum devoted to the Festival of Santa Tecla, the city’s biggest holiday, which involves gigantes, or giant papier-mâché figurines! The founders of the city are usually depicted, along with other well-known figures.

Another building in town attempts to recreate the festival experience.

Though there was plenty to do in Tarragona, we couldn’t resist an opportunity to visit the birthplace the important Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, whose imagination and innovation captivated us in Barcelona. So we hopped on a train and headed just a few miles inland to the city of Reus, which is also known for being home to some damned fine vermouth.

Just two peas in a pod waiting for the train…

On the way to Reus, Dreamer selflessly offered some lessons in how to utilize a Spanish fan.

Fittingly, the native city of Gaudí, such an important figure in Catalan Modernisme, boasts some beautiful modernist buildings.

The Gaudí Centre in Reus combines some of the architect’s personal objects with multimedia exhibits about his work.

Doer and Dreamer making shadow puppets.

Doer loved the interactive displays detailing how Gaudí’s forms take shape.

Gaudí mirror.

But enough learnin’… it’s time to get our drank on! Vermouth – an aromatized wine – has taken root in Spain from Italian influences as a before-dinner aperitif. Doer has become quite the fan, and perhaps due to its Roman roots, Tarragona is home to several great brands.

Amazing collection of vermouth memorabilia.

Fun fact: Dreamer actually called and asked what time the vermouth museum opened. We later learned it was a restaurant. But again, with such memorabilia, she’d be forgiven for such a faux pas.

Vermouth advertising through the ages.
But, of course, all that alcohol made at least one of us sleepy…

Back in Tarragona, there were still more sights to be seen. This seaside city is not without its hills, either. Public escalator to the rescue!

The modern-day cemetery is an experience, too… living at sea level presents some challenges.

Later, we ate some tasty Bolivian food. Peanut soup for the win!

Not sure about this store selling black toilet paper, though.

On to our next adventure! And thanks to Mom for coming to visit us again.


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