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Discover Medieval Tarragona

October 3, 2022

Tarragona It is part of the group of privileged cities that have made their heritage a sign of identity. The inclusion of roman monuments of the city on the UNESCO World Heritage list is a recognition of the important baggage inherited from our ancestors.

The city is heir to a glorious imperial past, but is also characterized by a rich history of medieval TarragonaThe Cathedral, the church of Sant Llorenç or the castle of the King They form part, among other monumental spaces, of a medieval artistic heritage that we invite you to visit.

Discover this heritage by taking a walk through the history of medieval Tarragona that will not leave you indifferent.

The route that we present will introduce you to the medieval legacy, led by the Cathedral, which constitutes a very remarkable ensemble. Did you know the wall medieval was built in two major phases? The first phase was in the XNUMXth century, taking advantage of the Roman wall, and was extended with the Mur Vell on its southern part.

The new wall or the 'Muralleta'

In the XNUMXth century, a new section of wall was built that took advantage of the structures of the old Roman circus and once again enlarged the city to the south. This new wall, called Mur Nou or wall, followed the monumental façade of the Roman circus and ran parallel to the current Rambla Vella de la ciudad.

Without changes:

El Mur Vell partially preserved in Ferrers and Enrajolats streets and highlight the Morenes and Arandes towers, which protected the Oliver's portal, at the beginning of Calle Major.

La wall is partially visible next to the vaults of Sant Hermenegild. It was reinforced with several towers, but only those of the Nuns and the Dyed.

Tarragona Cathedral and its majesty

La Tarragona Cathedral It is the monument of the city where you can best appreciate the medieval art set. Its construction began in the middle of the 1331th century and it was consecrated in XNUMX, being a good example of transitional architecture from Romanesque to Gothic. It is a temple with a basilica floor plan with three naves and a transept and the main façade stands out with its enormous rose window.

Su Bell tower It has a Romanesque base, but the rest is Gothic. The Cathedral preserves seventeen bells in the belfry and two by the dome, some of which are from the early XNUMXth century.

Inside the Cathedral, we must highlight the main altar, with a spectacular front from the beginning of the XNUMXth century, in which scenes from the life and martyrdom of Santa Tecla. It is the work of the sculptor Peter Johan and started in 1429.

The Chapel of the Tailors

Also, among the gothic chapels you have to put emphasis at the Tailors, XNUMXth century. It can be considered the most sumptuous Gothic chapel in the Cathedral as it has a rich architectural, sculptural and pictorial decoration. Nor should we forget the Baptistery, formerly dedicated to Santa Úrsula and the Eleven thousand Verges.

El Cloister of the Cathedral It is quadrangular in plan, with semicircular arches supported by twin columns three by three. The central sculpture is one of the most outstanding sets of Romanesque art in Catalonia and is characterized by its great iconographic richness.

The connecting door between the Cathedral and the Cloister is all made of marble and the tympanum shows the Christ in Majesty surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists.

Inside the Cloister you can also see open Gothic chapels, such as the Corpus Christi chapel, from 1330, or the Virgen de las Nieves from 1317. The image of the Virgen del Claustro, from the XNUMXth century, is the object of special veneration in his chapel.

In a space annexed to the Cloister we find the Diocesan Museum. The old chapter house and the old refectory of the Canonical Church, covered with a pointed barrel vault, stand out. I know discover collections of religious art of medieval and modern times from Tarragona and its diocese.

The medieval atmosphere of Pla de la Seu

The Pla de la Seu is one of the spaces where the medieval atmosphere of the city is best preserved. Presided over by the Cathedral, we can see several Gothic mansions, among which stands out the old rectory and the Balcells House.

Casa Balcells is also known as the Palau del Camber, given that until the XNUMXth century the waiter canon of the Tarragona headquarters, one of the most important ecclesiastical dignities, resided.

This large mansion is part of the set of noble mansions that, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, were built in the city. It is currently privately owned and its interior cannot be visited.

The Old Town Hall of Major Street

Very close you will find the arcades of Merceria street. They are made up of pointed arches that are supported by thick, sloped pillars. In medieval times this space housed a vegetable market, and today it hosts an antiques market every Sunday.

At number 39 on Calle Major is the building of the old town hall, with a large patio and main floor. This stately home housed the city council for four centuries.

Beyond the Pla de la Seu and the Cathedral, Tarragona has other religious buildings from medieval times, such as the chapel of Santa Tecla la Vieja, a small construction with a rectangular plan, or the Chapel of Sant Pau. This also has a rectangular base with attached exterior columns. It is an architectural jewel within the cloister of the Pontifical Seminary.

But if what you want is to discover a fully Gothic temple, you should visit the church of Sant Llorencowner of the Guild of Peasants of Tarragona. A simple construction with an almost square hall nave plan. It is divided into four chapels.

They are all Gothic and the one containing the Holy Sepulcher is covered with a ribbed vault. The church preserves two medieval works of the Sanctuary of Santa Magdalena: the Sant Llorenç altarpiece and a late Gothic chalice.

The old Hospital of Sant Pau and Santa Tecla, founded in 1171

Continuing with the Medieval Route in Tarragona, in the Les Coques street or  the old Hospital of Sant Pau and Santa Tecla. Of the old hospital of Santa Tecla, today only the façade remains, and it currently houses the headquarters of the Consell Comarcal del Tarragonès.

Observe the facade of the old hospital, which preserves a remarkable porch made up of five semicircular arches on the main facade and two lateral ones on the western facade.

These arches are supported by pillars that decorate their capitals with geometric and vegetal ornamentation. The Gothic windows on the upper floors would correspond to the second construction stage of the building, which began in the fifteenth century.

Life in the Jewish quarter

Tarragona also had its Jewry. The entire Jewish community lived in this neighborhood, which developed its life around the Plaza dels Àngels. It even had its own exit and entrance to the city and had a synagogue, school and baths.

Currently, however, very little remains of Tarragona's important Jewish quarter (said to be one of the largest in Catalonia): some Gothic arches that you can see on the site located between Plaça dels Àngels and Plaça d'en Rovellat (known as Ca la Garça), and an alley that goes into the Plaza del Fòrum (Talavera street).

We continue with him King's castle. In one of the corners of the King's Square You will see an imposing building that has received different names over the centuries, which denotes its footprint and its historical importance: Roman Praetorium, Palace of Augustus, Pilate's tower or King's castle.

The building is part of Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco, recognized as UNESCO World Heritage. The medieval castle was built on top of a large Roman construction from the XNUMXst century.

We continue talking about castles and move on to the paborde. It disappeared at the beginning of the XNUMXth century and only the northern façade remains, formed by the Roman wall and some defensive elements, such as battlements and machicolations, still well preserved today. Highlights the Archbishop's Tower, with a large room covered with a pointed barrel vault.

A church in the middle of the Amphitheater

In the middle of the Amphitheater we will find the remains of the Church of Santa Maria del Miracle. With a simple decoration, the temple has a Latin cross plan with a single nave, which in turn is divided into four sections limited by columns and main arches.

Finally come to Tamarit, about 10 km from downtown Tarragona. You will be able to appreciate the walled enclosure and the remains of the old castle. Castle It was built in the XNUMXth century and torn down during the Reapers' War.

take the opportunity to go to Jovera cove and to take a guided tour of the natural environment of the mouth of the river Gaià and the natural beach of Tamarit.