The eco-historic Parc de Pont de Diable, situated a ten minutes drive north of Tarragona, takes its name from the gigantic remains of the Roman aqueduct build to bring fresh water from the Rio Francoli in to the ancient city.
It’s a strange experience to walk around Tarragona as the city is always there, somewhere in the background, somewhere in your mind. Beach walking is not much different, you look at the Mediterranean stretching before you and there is a glimmer, a shadow of the old city in the corner of your eye.
Every time I enter Pilats tower I feel like being drawn in to the pages of of the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake. Standing there , in perfect silence, one can almost hear the Gothic town creaking above it’s hollow foundations, which is where the gigantic public building of the Circus and one of the corners of the Forum once stood. Imagine what Tarragona (Tarraco) must have been like at the height of it’s power, with its magnificent temples and extensive public amenities.
Every time I walk up in to this square from the new Rambla I take a big breath… and then exhale as I step in to the living room of Tarragona.
If the Rambla is a river, carrying people along the spine of the city, then Plaça de la Font is an island where it all comes to rest. The noise of the traffic fade behind and the acoustics open up to a large space echoing of chatter, the flutter of pigeons, the sound of cutlery, stirred coffee cups, and ice swirling in long tumblers.
The National Archaeological Museum is the ideal starting point for an exploration in to ancient Tarraco.
There is a easy to follow audiovisual display shown in the basement of the building which will tell you of Tarraco as seen through the eyes of the emperor Augustus when he came to visit the city. At the height of its splendor it would have been seen afar from the sea from incoming boats as it was built almost in terrace fashion over a rocky hill overlooking the sea. It sported one of the largest circuses ever excavated, a theater, an anphiteatre and a forum and would be bustling with life, trade and entertainment.
Located in the Part Alta of Tarragona, Casa Canals looks rather unassuming from the outside. Yet the interior reveals an understated old world opulence made of chandeliers and eighteen century furniture. It’s very tempting to make your self comfortable and read the Sunday papers (and smoke a cigar).
This iconic lighthouse, build between1860 -1864 from iron shipped from Hull and Liverpool, can be reached following a fascinating hike along a route which takes you past the industrial side of Tarragona.
Tinglado warehouse, currently hosting a compelling photographic exhibition called “Detalles Invisibles” by Pablo Perez-Minguez, is a historical building with a new lease of life.