I have to admit that I’m huge fan of this place. It’s been open for more than 15 years but the facilities are still in perfect shape. I never miss a chance to go whenever the occasion arises. PortAventura is also home to Costa Caribe, a water park that’s open from mid-May to mid-September.
Port Aventura isn’t just focused on little kids; in fact, the majority of the rides require a minimum height. And, you have to do everything possible to go on off-days or during the low season since the lines can be interminable and frustrating during August or on weekends.
The park is made up of five different areas: Imperial China, the Wild West, Polynesia, Aztec Mexico, and the Mediterranean. Some of the shows I saw, especially those in China, were absolutely fantastic. The exotic plants in Polynesia are exuberant and the shows in the Wild West were really fun! The rides are pretty good too. The Furius Baco goes over 135hm/h in only 3 seconds. The Dragón Kahn is another favorite. Be advised though: you’re going to get wet on a lot of rides, so bring a poncho or something you don’t mind getting soaked.
Throughout the park, there are fast food stalls and more formal restaurants that go along with the theme of the section. Nearby, you can also play golf and there’s a 4-star hotel complex. The Hotel Gold River in the Wild West Section was the best and, since it’s inside the park, you can come and go whenever you want.
Sometimes something beautiful takes longer than expected to move us. This is what happened in front of the spectacular Ebro Delta National Park. You have to have your mind and heart open to take in all off its strange and profound beauty.
The rice, the main crop of the delta, covers about 21,000 hectares. The beat of the sow, the growth, the ripening and the harvest, the landscape changes various times a year. It floods until the beginning of May, it will be intensely green in June, yellow in October, and then brown during the winter.
However, there’s something in the landscape that never deviates: narrow canals, square ricefields, humid land, few houses, few people, a few simple towns. And a red sky at sunrise with orange sunsets lined with the sillouhette of thousands of birds looking for food and their nests. The great Ebro dies giving all of itself to the surrounding environment. It says farewell hugging and giving to the earth, leaving its print and large history on the bland mud.
The towns – Amposta, L’Ampolla, Deltebre, La Cava, Sant Jaume d’Enveja, Els Muntells, L’Aldea, Poblé Nou del Delta – are just landmarks/milestones to help not get lost in the suggestive yet silent landscape. It has the charm of close water. It also has, the slow rhythm of the transfters, it’s deaf murmur crossing canals.
It’s an adventure from any of these towns to head off on the trail. Many times the sun and our sense of orientation are the only guides. There aren’t any signs at the intersections, not is there anyone to ask for directions to help find the sea or the river. But, we arrive to a place that surprised us, La Punta del Fangar. It looks like a clothespin of a great crab sticking out of the sand. It hides a closed-in bay on one side and an extensive, isolated beach on the other, Marquesa beach. Walking along its soft dunes, along the shores, with the golden, untouched find sand at your feet is a pure joy.
The Roman amphitheatre is one of the most famous and iconic monuments in Tarragona, so much so that is was practically the only thing I saw when I first visited!
It’s one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the Iberian Peninsula and what’s really cool is that they dedicate one week a year to recreating what the theatre was like back in Roman times.
During this event (it’s called Tarraco Viva), there are re-enactments of gladiator battles and an expert troupe of Italian actors ve explain and interpret the fights.
The sensation is like living back in ancient Roman times and besides being a really wonderful spectacle, it’s also quite interesting. “We don’t want this just to be a spectacle, we want the public to understand the details: the reasons behind the costumes and the fights…we don’t want it to just be a fight, we want to make history come alive,” was more or less what the organizers told us. Well, they sure hit the mark. It’s a truly amazing sight!
Siurana de Prades is a small town in Cornudella del Montsant. A few years ago there wasn’t even a paved road to reach it, which made it much more interesting. Almost no one ventured the 8 km dirt road drive to visit it, meaning it felt like the town was all yours if you visited it. Nowadays, there are much more tourists, as they’ve built the paved road, but the town is still marvelous. It’s considered to be one of the most bealutiful towns in all of Cataluña – both for the cultural interest and its magnificent natural surroundings.
The town is located on a rocky limestone crag, which was a strategic location in other times. The last Muslim bastion in Cataluña was raised here. Legend says that the Christians, in their reconquest efforts, were helped by a Jew who showed them where to Access the castle. The queen of the castle, knowing how difficult it was to reach the castle, was celebrating a party when the Christians entered the castle. She knew what the consequences were and quickly got on her horse and raced towards the cliff. She knew the horse wouldn’t jump, so she covered its eyes, but its instincts still kicked in and it stopped causing here to fly off over the cliff. You can still see the print of the horseshoe in the rocks.
Leaving the legends behind, the town has different places of interest: the Moorish queen’s castle, the 7th century Saint Mary Romanesque church, among others. Another of the impressive things about this town are the spectacular views of the siurana reservoir, as well as the pretty reddish rock formations that surround the place. There are breathtaking views wherever you look.
The town is filled with bars and restaurants. There’s also a couple of fountains. It’s a true pleasure to walk along the town’s cobblestone streets, covered in beautiful flowers. The place breaths peacefulness when it’s not packed with tourists.
Tarragona Cathedral was built in 1171, during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. It lies on the ruins of a mosque, a Visigoth Cathedral and what was once the Temple of Augustus dedicated to a Roman imperial cult. The style corresponds to the period of transition between Romanesque and Gothic.
The main facade has three doors, which correspond to the three halls of the church. The central and principal door is Gothic while the sides doors are Romanesque. Outside, there are statues of apostles and prophets adorning the façade. The mullion door bears the image of the Virgin and it’s a joy to watching the color of the stone change with the sunlight.
The Diocesan Museum of Tarragona was placed inside in 1911 and has a collection of about six thousand pieces, of which about three hundred and fifty are currently on display. There is also a 15th-century altarpiece, the Tomb of the Archbishop located on the main altar, and the Chapel of St. Mary from the 14th century (though I can’t comment on this, because it was closed when I went). I’ll definitely be back so I’ll tell you next time!
Definitely a magical place. The "Costa Dorada" is a lovely beach with such tranquility. It is a picturesque area and was once a well known fishing village with buildings decorated in old architectural styles. It is certainly one of the most interesting places on the Catalan coast.
This enormous park is located on a plot of land near Montbrió del Camp and costs around 4 euros to enter.
Besides the large tower (which you can climb), the most beautiful part of this park is the central lagoon. The colors there are really astounding, as well as the Gaudí-esque stone architecture.
Entering Santes Creus is to step into a reality that remains hidden, one which we must all uncover: the power of serenity. Every corner, floor, stone, and tree is a relic of this place’s golden past. It once had life! Monastical, yes, but life nonetheless.
These days, Santes Creus is empty and uninhabited, filled with a yearning for days gone by. When we entered, a strong wind blew, bending the cypresses as if in reverence and thanks for our visit.
This is one of the three monasteries featured on the Cistercian Route and is only one that is currently uninhabited. The visit isn’t guided but you can learn about the history with an audiovisual exhibit which plays more or less every 15 minutes. For me, this was a plus because I could visit and enjoy the monastery at my leisure. I had time to jot down notes in my journal, make some sketches, and take some photos. There was always someone around to help me out with my doubts and even give me some interesting information. I’m not sure how long I spent inside, only that the monastery is a beautiful place full of history and art.
Santes Creus has different sections, each in better or worse condition. I’d like to highlight the cloister and the dormitory. I’d also like to assure you that Santes Creus is the monastery on the route which best exemplifies the Bernadine layout so typical to Cistercian construction. I’d like to personally give thanks to the creators of this architectural wonder whose ability to transmit peace and serenity hasn’t diminished through the ages.
Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite places.
Pont del Diable is the popular Spanish name of the Roman aqueduct of Tarragona, capitol of the province of the same name.
The aqueduct is found 3km from the city and brought fresh water from the Francoli River. It’s a grandiose structure from the era of Trajan and has two levels of arches. The lower level has 31 arches and measures 63 meters in length, while the upper lever consists of 25 arches and measures 217 meters in length.
On the A-7 highway, there’s a place where you can park on either side of the highway and then reach the aqueduct by foot. It’s a nice walk and a worthwhile one at that. The Aqueduct of Tarragona was declared a National Historical Monument in 1905.
The Aqueduct of Tarragona was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1905.
The Balcony of the Mediterranean is a 23-meter cliff at the far end of the Rambla Nova of Tarragona and is lined by an iron railing.
It is a very dear place to citizens of Tarragona, who converge there to "tocar ferro" (literally, touch the iron).
The rail has a distinctive shape and is said to bring luck to anyone who touches it. From there, you can enjoy a magnificent view of Miracle beach and the Mediterranean Sea.
In the north of the Ebro Delta is one of the most interesting lighthouses you will ever see, surrounded by white sand dunes. It is very easily accessible - you can drive right up to the lighthouse but the road is not paved. I recommend visiting at dawn and dusk, when the birds come out to find food. The best time of year is the fall, October to November, when the farmers are harvesting the rice.
Poblet almost seems alert, proud and on guard when it receives guests, as if were aware of the important cultural, historic, and artistic heritage housed within its walls. A visit is in order if only to enjoy the incredible and idyllic landscapes in the sub-region of Conca de Barberà, home to the largest Cistercian community in all of Europe.
Visits are guided and the information from the guides about the Cistercians was interesting, but I also enjoyed the information about the Kindgom of Aragón; after all, we shouldn’t forget that Poblet houses the most important royal tombs in all of Catalonia, notably that of Jaume I the Conquerer.
It’s ranked as a World Heritage Site (yet another reason to visit), but is also surrounded by beautiful natural areas and a selection of cute and charming hotels and restaurants.
Of the three monasteries on the Cistercian Route, Poblet is the most important and dynamic, but not the one which attracted me the most. Perhaps it’s because the guided visits are done at a fairly quick pace and you don’t have too much time to do anything else but snap a quick photo and move on. I’ve been there a few times to try to learn more about this place which makes you want to breathe and meditate, not rush from one corner to another.
When I arrived in Tarragona , one of my first visits was the History Museum and the National Museum of Archaeology, because if there’s one thing I like when I travel, it’s to learn about the history. When I visited, I entered to take a look around and was sincerely received by a couple of young ladies, one of whom was a professor of History. Being both teachers, they noticed my natural curiosity and we started a very warm but instructive conversation, exchanging ideas and knowledge of our areas. They gave me several pamphlets and accompanied me to the beginning of the visit; we walked through, admiring each exhibit and reading what we could about what we were seeing.
I enjoyed the medieval walls, the fortified tower of Galera, pieces of marble with inscriptions, shields undergoing restoration, truncated Roman columns, capitals, the She-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, parts of the old buildings which have been restored, and models representing layout of the area’s original settlements
I also liked the vertical openings in the walls to defend the tower, the white marble sarcophagus of Hippolytus from the 3rd century, statues with figures whose faces and/or clothing are worn or broken, and marble plaques with different scenes portrayed. All of the signs bore the word “Tarraco.” It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I read a text that said “…of all the cities made for rest, this is the most enjoyable…” signed L. Florus Anneu (2nd century BC).
There were gateways prepared so you could visit the tower without stepping on the ruins and from which you could observe everything without destroying that which has stood the test of time. There were also long illuminated tunnels for chariot races and horses and even places where you can reach the other side where the more modern buildings of old city are currently being restored.
It is an admirable work that deserves the respect and care of mankind. We reached the headless female statue made of marble on which dates from the first century BC are noted in the folds of her dress and finally arrived at the steps connecting these tunnels to the Roman Circus. I could keep going but it’s not necessary…you just have to see it for yourself to truly understand this delicate work of anthropologists and historians.
The Plaça dels Sedassos is also nearby.
About 1000 meters, of the original 4kms, are still standing. This is the wall built in 300BC by the Romans in the city of Tarragona. Between 217 and 197 BC, the oldest building of the Roman Tarraco was contstructed. Around the years 150-125 BC, the wall changed substantially, growing in size, height and thickness, and going on to encompass the entire city to the port . Their megalithic stones are lit with the light of sunset, we crossed to reach the old town, a lovely walk which you should hesitate to do.
This is a clean and calm beach with plenty of light-colored sand. It’s an ideal place to go on family vacations and there are lots of things to see within a few kilometers: Sitges, Tarragona, Calafell, and Costa Dorada…it’s really worth a trip and I’ll definitely be back!