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History of Tarragona


Tarragona is one of the oldest town on the shores of Mediterranean Sea. In the ancient times it became a major Roman town.







Originally this part of Spain was inhabited by an ancient tribe of Iberians. This war like people nevertheless managed to find common interest in trade with the Phoenician and later Greek colonists. Phoenicians established first trading post around 5th century BC. Eventually it grew in size and importance and was turned into a real town. Later Tarragona became part of Carthaginian Empire that was also originally established by the Phoenicians.


Tarragona in the Roman timesIn 218 during the Second Punic War (between Roman Republic and Carthaginian Empire) it was captured by the Roman proconsul and prominent war general Scipio Africanus. He constructed first military fortifications in Tarragona and under Roman rule the city quickly grew in size and prosperity. In 27 BC Tarragona was called Tarraco or Tarracona in Latin. It was short for Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraco. Later it was turned into the capital of the Roman province of Nearer Spain and after merging with Galicia (modern day France) it became a capital of Province of Hispania Tarraconensis. During campaigns in the Cantabrian War Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus spent one winter with his troops here. He ordered construction of many buildings to honor his military victories. Many of these prominent buildings are still visible in Tarragona today. The future Roman Emperor Septimius Severus lived here for several years and played the role of the head of the Roman administration


Arab forces captured Tarragona and held the town until 1117 when it was re- taken by the Christian forces. During the Middle Ages it was turned into the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon. Today Roman buildings of ancient Tarragona are designed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.










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