Roman Route: Tarragona
Distance from L’Hospitalet de l’Infant:  40 km
Type of activity: Cultural, sight-seeing, shopping, dining
Time required: half day

The Roman cultural heritage is strongly felt in the region around L’Hospitalet. The main center of Roman settlement was Tarragona. Tarraco, as it was then called, was the capital of the Roman province Hispania Citerior in Republican times, subsequently called Hispania Tarraconensis.
 

Of course, modern Tarragona, the capital of the region with 140’000 inhabitants, has much to offer the visitor. You will find many shops and restaurants as well as museums and historical sites. For more information about Tarragona and the latest schedule of events please consult www.tarragonaturisme.cat 
 
Tarragona

The origins of the city are shrouded in mistery. It may go back to an indigenous Iberian settlement in the 6th century. This settlement may have been called Kesse or Kosse, named after the Iberic tribe of the region, the Cosetans. It is more likely, however, that the city was founded by the Phoenicians, who called it Tarchon, meaning "citadel". This name was probably derived from the site’s elevated position on a high rock. In Roman times it became a stronghold against the Carthaginians – the successors of the Phoenicians. During the Second Punic War (218-202 B.B.), a conflict in which Spain was one of the main theaters of war in the struggle for supremacy over the Mediterranean between the two super-powers Rome and the North-African Carthago. The main Roman protagonists of this conflict, the two brothers Publius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio (both died in 211 B.C.) converted the city of Tarraco into a fortress and arsenal against the Carthaginians.
 
In 45 B.C. Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) declared Tarraco a colony (land that was awarded to the veterans of the Roman legions), and under the emperor Augustus (63 B.C. – 19 A.D.) Tarraco became the capital of the Roman province Hispania Citerior. The emperor Augustus wintered at Tarraco after his Cantabrian campaign, and bestowed many marks of honor on the city. The economic and political importance of Tarraco can also be seen by the fact that the city minted its own coins. According to the ancien geographer Pomponius Mela (wrote around 43 A.D.) Tarraco was the wealthiest and most populated town on that coast, famous for producing excellent wine and good flax. The fertile plain and sunny shores of his home town Tarraco are celebrated by the Roman poet Martial (approx. 41-104 A.D. ), and by other Roman poets.

Tarragona
Aqueducte de les Ferreres

Several monuments bear witness to the Roman presence in and around Tarragona. Part of the bases of large Cyclopean walls near the Cuartel de Pilatos are thought to pre-date the Romans. The building, which served as a prison in the 19th century, is said to have been the palace of Augustus. The 2nd century amphitheater, near the sea-shore, was extensively used as a quarry after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. A circus, approximately  450 m long, was built in the area now called Plaça de la Font, and portions of it can still be traced. Throughout the town Roman and even  Phoenician, inscriptions on the building blocks of many houses mark the ancient building material reused in later times.

Two ancient monuments in the environs of the town are better preserved than the ones in town.  The first is the Aqüeducte de les Ferreres, which spans 217 m across a valley about 4 km north of the city. The loftiest arches, of which there are two tiers, are 26 m high. The second is a monument about 6 km along the coast road east of the city, commonly called the "Tower of the Scipios". However, ther is no authority for assuming that the two brothers were buried here after dying in battle near the Ebro river in 211 B.C.
 
Tarragona 
Tower of the Scipios

The Roman ruins of Tarraco have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Other Roman buildings include:

The walls, with two gates: Portal del Roser and the Portal de Sant Antoni.
The capitol, or citadel
The Forum
The palace of Augustus, called the house of Pilate
The circus or amphitheater
The so-called tower, or sepulcher, of the Scipios
The arch of Sura, or of Bará
The Aurelian Way.

Tarragona
Roman Circus in Tarragona