Tarragona, capital of Hispania Citerior during the Roman empire, preserves many buildings from this period. The walls surrounding the historic centre were built in the 3rd century BC., although they were altered in the medieval period. Beside the sea stand the terraces of the Roman amphitheatre which, in its day, (2nd C.), had capacity for more than 12,000 people. Here they attended combats between gladiators and wild animals.
The former Tarraco also had a theatre and a circus. The theatre, outside the walled enclosure and nowadays on the Archaeological Walk, took advantage of the difference in levels in this area to built the terracing. Around the Plaça de la Font are preserved the vaults that supported the cavea (terracing) of the circus, an area where chariot races were held.
The historic centre of the city unfolds between the Mediterranean Sea and the old walls. In this area is the Cathedral of Santa María, a building constructed on the site of a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter and a Muslim mosque. Romanesque doorways, Gothic roof arches and cloisters of Romanesque origin show the transition from one style to another. Also belonging to the Middle Ages are the arcades of the Calle Mercería, although the Calle de Çavallers is considered the main street of medieval Tarragona. In this central part of the city, the Casa del Degà, Casa dels Concilis and Casa de la Ciutat are the outstanding features. On the other side of the Rambla Vella is the rationalist layout of Tarragona, with its Rambla Nova, which arrives at the Paseo de las Palmeras and the Balcón del Mediterráneo.
From here you get one of the best views over the sea and El Miracle beach.
Among the Modernist buildings of the former Tarraco, you can visit the tower and gallery of the Casa Ripoll, the iron building of the Central Market or the chapel of the Colegio Jesús i Maria, in whose construction Antoni Gaudí, the greatest representative of Spanish Modernism took part.
The city of Tarragona also has one of the largest paleochristian necropolises in the West.
The decoration of wooden coffins, slabs, sarcophaguses and mausoleums brings us closer to the art of the first Christians.
We should not forget that the capital of the Costa Daurada has one of the most important ports on “Mare Nostrum”. A good option for tasting the shellfish and fish typical of the area is to go to El Serrallo, the city's fishing district. Langoustines from San Carlos de la Rápita, crustaceans from Cambrils and eels from the Ebro Delta are some of the coastal products offered by the cuisine of Tarragona. Vegetables from inland are accompanied by romesco sauce (made with dried red peppers, tomatoes and almonds), while the stews combine the area's raw materials. Pataco (stew of snails, potatoes, tuna, almonds, garlic and ham), cod balls, or rice with cuttlefish coloured with its own ink are some possibilities.
Desserts have almonds and lemons as the main ingredient. The province's extensive vineyards give rise to five interesting denominations of origin: Tarragona, Conca de Barberá, Penedés, Priorato and Terra Alta.
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