This is the time of the year when Human Castles become a ubiquitous sight in some of the main squares in Catalonia. Here, last night, we had the Colla Xiquets de Tarragona doing the last and most important rehearsal before the beginning of the celebration of Sant Magi next week.
Concluding a week where Human Castles have been the most predominant feature of the city as part of the Setmana dels Castells, a last showdown took place at the Serrallo, the fishing port of Tarragona.
Hijo de Caín, the new Mediterranean psychological thriller filmed at Tarragona, opened last night at the new theater. There was much anticipation even before the main stars of the movie, José Coronado, David Solans, Jack Taylor, Maria Molins, Julio Manrique, Helena De la Torre, made their appearance on the red carpet.
It makes a change to see this great group of castellers, the oldest in Tarragona, training at their base, away from the squares filled with onlookers craning their necks to get a glimpse of the human tower building up.
Today a new quirky seasonal market has graced a little corner of the old city: the Mercat De Santa Rita, a collection of bohemian, green footed offerings courtesy of the many artists, designers and hoarders which populate the heart of Tarragona.
Much of life in Tarragona revolves around food and one of the base ingredient is the superlative olive oil which is produced in this part of Catalonia.
1811 was a terrible year for Tarragona. From the 5 May to the 29 June the city suffered a historic siege which came to a head when the Napoleonic troops broke through the fortification of the city storming the streets; this gave start of a horrific slaughter in which thousands, including civilians, lost their life – an event still remembered to this days.
Guilty to say that Tarragona Blog missed a a chunk of the Catalonian Day festivities held in Tarragona due to the impending march setting off in Barcelona, which we thought would be too important to miss (a blogger got to do what a blogger got to do). But Tarragona did its bit with a fantastic castellers display in Pla de Seu in front of the Cathedral at which all four collas (castellers groups based in Tarragona) took part.
My first encounter with a Sardana, the popular dance held in an ever widening circle, so typical of Catalonia. To outsiders it may look a little odd as the music played by the Cobla ( consisting of 10 brass instruments, a tambourine / flute player and a bass) is not synchronised with the dance it self. Yet taking part at the Sardana is something that unites people and everyone can take part.
You won’t need to find excuses to visit this great wine shop in the hear to the old city.
Vins i Licors Jove’ is an established business amongst those locals partial to a drop or two of the fine stuff . Here you get the fantastic upper end from the nearby Priorat and Montsant wine makers, but also great table wine straight from the wooden barrel. This is also the place where the best artisan Vermouth is hidden; just bring an empty bottle with you (or you can buy a plastic container) and ask for a fill up from behind the counter!
Although not strictly part of the city, the Mercat de Bonavista is reached after a short 13 minutes bus ride and everyone flocks there for some bargain shopping on a Sunday. The Mercat the Bonavista is a large area filled with hundreds of stalls selling cheap clothes, fantastic fruit and vegetables, olives, dubious art, household goods, live poultry, cheese and meats.
Tarragona is a very atmospheric city and it comes to it’s own at night with lanterns and early 20th century street lights giving a real ambiance to it’s landscape. So it’s little wonder that the Christmas lighting is taken with an equal importance and the new Rambla is filled with fairy lights wrapped around the trees and more, resembling Chinese lanterns are suspended over the walkway.
This is a regular Sunday event in Tarragona’s Bonavista quarter; around 50 + traders display thousand of old and unwanted items, from hairless Barbie dolls to out of print books, old cheesy records, coins, buttons, religious effigies, watches, china, jewellery, brass, wood work, you name it, it’s there.