AskDefine | Define tarragona

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Proper noun

  1. A port of Catalonia, Spain.


Extensive Definition

Tarragona ( in Catalan) is a city located in the south of Catalonia and east of Spain, by the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the Spanish province of the same name and the capital of the Catalan comarca Tarragonès. Its map coordinates are . As of the 2005 census, the city had a population of 144,163, and the population of the entire urban area was estimated to be 450,921.


In Roman times, the city was named Tarraco ( in Ptolemy, ii. 6. § 17) and was capital of the province of Hispania Tarraconensis (after being capital of Hispania Citerior in the Republican era). The Roman colony founded at Tarraco had the full name of Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraco.
Some experts suggest that the city was an Iberic town called Kesse or Kosse, derived of the iberic tribe of those region: the cosetians.Smith suggests that the city was probably founded by the Phoenicians, who called it Tarchon, which, according to Samuel Bochart, means a citadel. This name was probably derived from its situation on a high rock, between 700 and 800 feet above the sea; whence we find it characterised as arce potens Tarraco. (Auson. Class. Urb. 9; cf. Mart. x. 104.) It was seated on the river Sulcis or Tulcis (modern Francolí), on a bay of the Mare Internum (Mediterranean Sea), between the Pyrenees and the river Iberus (modern Ebro). (Mela, ii. 6; Plin. iii. 3. s. 4.) Livy (xxii. 22) mentions a portus Tarraconis; and according to Eratosthenes (ap. Strabo iii. p. 159) it had a naval station or roads (); but Artemidorus (ap. Strab. l. c.; Polyb. iii. 76) says with more probability that it had none, and scarcely even an anchoring place; and Strabo himself calls it . This answers better to its present condition; for though a mole was constructed in the 15th century with the materials of the ancient amphitheatre, and another subsequently by an Englishman named John Smith, it still affords but little protection for shipping. (Ford's Handbook of Spain, p. 222.) Tarraco lies on the main road along the south-eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. (Itin. Ant. pp. 391, 396, 399, 448, 452.) It was fortified and much enlarged by the brothers Publius and Gnaeus Scipio, who converted it into a fortress and arsenal against the Carthagenians. Subsequently it became the capital of the province named after it, a Roman colony, and conventus juridicus. (Plin. l. c.; Tac. Ann. i. 78; Solin. 23, 26; Polyb. x. 34; Liv. xxi. 61; Steph. B. p. 637.)
Augustus wintered at Tarraco after his Cantabrian campaign, and bestowed many marks of honor on the city, among which were its honorary titles of Colonia Victrix Togata and Colonia Julia Victrix Tarraconensis. The city also minted coins. (Grut. Inscr. p. 382; Orelli, no. 3127; coins in Eckhel, i. p. 27; Florez, Med. ii. p. 579; Mionnet, i. p. 51, Suppl. i. p. 104; Sestini, p. 202.) According to Mela (l. c.) it was the richest town on that coast, and Strabo (l. c.) represents its population as equal to that of Carthago Nova (modern Cartagena). Its fertile plain and sunny shores are celebrated by Martial and other poets; and its neighborhood is described as producing good wine and flax. (Mart. x. 104, xiii. 118; Sil. Ital. iii. 369, xv. 177; Plin. xiv. 6. s. 8, xix. 1. s. 2.)

Ancient remains

There are still many important ancient remains at Tarragona. Part of the bases of large Cyclopean walls near the Quartel de Pilatos are thought to be anterior to the Romans. The building just mentioned, a prison in the 19th century, is said to have been the palace of Augustus. But Tarraco, like most other ancient towns which have continued to be inhabited, has been pulled to pieces by its own citizens for the purpose of obtaining building materials. The amphitheatre near the sea-shore has been used as a quarry, and but few vestiges of it now remain. A circus, 1500 feet long, is now built over it, though portions of it are still to be traced. Throughout the town Latin, and even apparently Phoenician, inscriptions on the stones of the houses proclaim the desecration that has been perpetrated. Two ancient monuments, at some little distance from the town, have, however, fared rather better. The first of these is a magnificent aqueduct, which spans a valley about a mile from the gates. It is 700 feet in length, and the loftiest arches, of which there are two tiers, are 96 feet high. The monument on the northwest of the city, and also about a mile distant, is a Roman sepulchre, commonly called the "Tower of the Scipios"; but there is no authority for assuming that they were buried here. (Cf. Ford, Handbook, p. 219, seq.; Florez, Esp. Sagr. xxix. p. 68, seq.; Miñano, Diccion. viii. p. 398.)

Roman Aqueduct

In the forest a few kilometers north of the city, a Roman arch bridge carrying an aqueduct has been preserved. It is known locally as "Devil's Bridge" (El Pont del Diable in Catalan, or El Puente del Diablo in Spanish).

Modern Tarragona

Tarragona is home to a large port and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Much of its economic activity comes from a large amount of chemical industries located in the city or in surrounding areas.
Tarragona tourist attractions include the Museum of Archaeology and the Roman ruins of Tarraco, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Tarragona has a wall surrounding the old city, too. There are two gates through the wall of Tarragona: the Portal del Roser and the Portal de Sant Antoni.
The main living heritage is the Popular Retinue -a great parade of dances, bestiary and spoken dances- and the human towers. They specially participate in Santa Tecla Festival. They are so popular in Tarragona and also in all Catalonia that they have got their own home. It is call "Casa de la Festa", Festivies House, where you can visit them all the year.
A number of good beaches, some awarded a prestigious Blue Flag designation, line the Mediterranean coast near the city.
Tarragona is located near the holiday resort of Salou and the Universal Studios theme park Port Aventura, one of the largest in Europe.

Major Events

One of the most important and interesting carnivals in Catalonia, with one of the most complete ritual sequences of the Catalan carnivals, so local and so universal that this is the synthesis that makes it special. Official website
The unique dixieland festival in Spain and one of the most important in Europe: 25 bands and 100 concerts and activities the week before Holy Week. Official website
  • Tarraco Viva
One of the most important Roman recreations of the world. A lot of groups around Europe recreate the Roman world: from the Roman legions, to the daily live. It's celebrated between 10th and 20th May.
The most important fireworks contest in the Mediterranean area is held every first week of July in Tarragona, in a wonderful bay -Punta del Miracle-, a place praised by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí. The competition selects six international pyrotechnic companies every year. Official website1
  • Sant Magí Festival in Tarragona
The second traditional religious festival in Tarragona, between 15th and 19th August. Official website
One of the most important Mediterranean traditional festivals, between 15th and 24th September. It has been celebrated since 1321 and it has been considered of national touristic interest by the state. Official website

Other information

  • U2 Vertigo Music Video
The Music Video for the hit single 'Vertigo' from U2's album "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" was filmed near Deltebre, in southern Tarragona in September 2004.


See also

tarragona in Arabic: طرخونة
tarragona in Aragonese: Tarragona
tarragona in Bulgarian: Тарагона
tarragona in Catalan: Tarragona
tarragona in Czech: Tarragona
tarragona in Welsh: Tarragona
tarragona in Danish: Tarragona
tarragona in German: Tarragona
tarragona in Spanish: Tarragona
tarragona in Esperanto: Taragono
tarragona in Basque: Tarragona
tarragona in Persian: تاراگنا
tarragona in French: Tarragone
tarragona in Galician: Tarragona
tarragona in Croatian: Tarragona (grad)
tarragona in Indonesian: Tarragona
tarragona in Interlingue: Tarragona
tarragona in Italian: Tarragona
tarragona in Hebrew: טרגונה
tarragona in Latin: Tarraco
tarragona in Lithuanian: Taragona
tarragona in Dutch: Tarragona (stad)
tarragona in Japanese: タラゴナ
tarragona in Norwegian: Tarragona
tarragona in Occitan (post 1500): Tarragona
tarragona in Polish: Tarragona
tarragona in Portuguese: Tarragona
tarragona in Tahitian: Tarragona
tarragona in Romanian: Tarragona
tarragona in Russian: Таррагона
tarragona in Serbian: Тарагона
tarragona in Finnish: Tarragona
tarragona in Swedish: Tarragona
tarragona in Turkish: Tarragona
tarragona in Volapük: Tarragona
tarragona in Chinese: 塔拉戈纳
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