I went to Spain to spend a weekend at Port Aventura with some friends. We stayed in Salou, which I wouldn't recommend as it was a horrible tourist spot with tacky souvenirs and gross English people! But anyway, we went to Cadaques on the Friday for a couple of hours. Spent Saturday at Port Aventura. And on the Sunday, I decided I wanted to visit Tarragona rather than go to the theme park again. I am so happy I made this decision.
Tarragona is a beautiful old Spanish town just below Barcelona. There are plenty of things to see in Tarragona including the UNESCO World Heritage Roman ruins. My particular favourites were the Roman Amphitheatre and the Tarragona Cathedral. Both were stunning and have so much history.
I also found it very interesting being in Tarragona, a town in Catalunya, on the 1st of October 2017. It was the day of the illegal Catalan referendum. There were flags all around the city in support of the referendum saying "si" and the Catalan flag. It was nice to see such a peaceful vote with people queueing patiently in the streets to cast their votes. There were police officers around but they were there to make sure there was no trouble, they were not being violent.
There was a small protest of people in the streets as we were leaving but I didn't see any violence. I was so shocked to see later in the day that there had been so much violence and trouble in other cities, in particular Barcelona. The whole thing was very shocking to me, but I was happy to have witnessed a calm and respectful vote. The way the rest of Spain should have been too.
The main attraction in Tarragona is the Roman Amphitheatre situated just next to the Mediterranean Sea. It was built in the 2nd Century AD and could house up to 15,000 spectators. It's a beautiful old amphitheatre with lovely views out to sea.
It was fun to imagine this back in the day. Imagining the Romans sat in the seating areas waiting to be entertained.
You had to pay to go inside and look around, so I didn't bother but if you're really into Roman history, it might be fun.
Other Roman ruins
There are lots of other Roman ruins scattered around Tarragona city. I found several beautiful examples of the Roman architecture without really looking or searching. I'm sure if you followed a map or got a guide you would see so much more.
The city is steeped in history and such a wonderful place to walk around for a couple of hours. It was really fascinating to see how they have preserved the old Roman ruins in the centre of a small city.
OMG the Cathedral! I love a good church, and from the outside it looks pretty standard and not that special. Even the inside was fine. But I found a secret garden that was almost hidden away around the back of the Cathedral and it was beautiful.
The gardens were gorgeous with flowers blooming in lots of different colours. There was square courtyard with a covered walkway all around the outside with lots of archways and beautiful decoration. The Cathedral was my favourite part of Tarragona, especially the outside.
Walking around Tarragona was so lovely. It was a typical old town but with certain aspects that made it special. I loved the colourful buildings and small squares which were very similar to places in France. But there were also lots of historical Roman ruins to add to the ambience.
There is a very strong Catalan culture in Tarragona with the flags, the food and in particular the Castell (human tower) monument. I would love to come back here one day and spend longer than a day exploring this unique city in Spain.
Like I said above, we were in Tarragona on the 1st of October 2017 which was the day of the illegal Catalan Referendum. It was interesting to see all the people in the streets waiting patiently to cast their vote. I was happy that I witnessed no violence or resistance from the police. I saw on the news later that day that there had been some awful confrontations across Spain and in particular in Barcelona from the Spanish police beating people up!
Here are some of the photos I took, including one of the Catalan flags on the buildings showing support for the referendum.
I bloody loved it here. Lots of history, beautiful buildings and culture. Catalan traditions are not forgotten and are greatly celebrated. Come here if you want to see the real Spain away from the crowds in Barcelona and Madrid. Such a beautiful place to come for a romantic weekend away or on a family holiday. There is lots to keep you entertained, but also lots of free things to do too. I really want to come back here for a long weekend to discover more about the Catalan culture and taste some of the delicious foods! Let me know in the comments below if you have already been here, or if after reading my blog post, it's now on your list.