This is a Roman route in Tarragona Province. Actually this is the second part of our article about a Roman itinerary in Tarragona city. We will follow this time in this route the path of the main preserved monuments of Roman times in the nearby area of Tarragona. Some of these spots obtained on November 30, 2000, from the declaration of World Heritage by UNESCO for the Roman archaeological site of the ancient Tarraco.
Below you have the full itinerary. Some of the places are not good prepared to be reached by car and it can be very difficult to go from one to the next if you don’t know the road as a local. So the route could be challenging and long to do in a single day.
- Arc de Berà
- Aqueduct of Les Ferreres
- Villa Romana d’Els Munts
- Roman Quarry of El Mèdol
- Torre dels Escipions
Arc de Berà
This is probably the most seen Roman monument but one of the less visited. It is located in Roda de Berà and it is one the prides of the town. Unfortunately, it is on the N-340 road in the middle of a roundabout. Because of that, just to reach it, and be able to read the information panels and the UNESCO world Heritage plate, we have to risk our lives crossing the road. Currently, there is not even a pedestrian crossing neither a parking lot aside.
The Arc de Berà is an honorary arch located on the ancient Via Augusta, about 20 km northeast of Tarragona. The Romans built it during I a. C. using opus quadratum method with very simple shapes. It has eight fluted pilasters and Corinthian capitals, which support an entablature with an inscription alluding to its construction. Luci Licini Sura left on his testament between 15 and 5 BC his will of this arch to be dedicated to Emperor Augustus. To make it, the Romans took local limestone ashlars from the nearby Elies quarry, next to the current town of Roda de Berà.
Aqueduct of Les Ferreres
The Aqueduct of Les Ferreres is a construction I AD. The pipeline collected the water in the current town of Puigdelfí and drove it to the ancient Tarraco. The visible part nowadays is a bridge used to save a natural valley. It consists of two rows of superimposed arches built with ashlars of opus quadratum Roman style. The Romans took water from Francolí and Gaià rivers in order to drove it and collect it in huge collectors in Tarragona.
The aqueduct, called as well Pont del Diable (Devil’s bridge in Catalan language) is 4 kilometres far away from the main city of Tarragona. It is a popular excursion of one hour walking from the city. You can also reach the aqueduct by car, only coming from Barcelona direction from the AP-7 highway. There is a sign and a small parking lot you can use and walk 10 minutes to the top of the bridge. It is possible to walk along the old water path and get down to the bottom after to admire this heritage from its base.
The Roman Villa of Centcelles is a large building, an architecture that aimed to impress the visitor. It is out of extraordinarily thick walls made of stone, bricks and lots of lime mortar. It has large rooms covered with a dome, paints and mosaics to decorate walls and ceilings, and rooms with heating. In short, a true expression of wealth and power. From an inner courtyard (atrium) you could access a whole series of rooms and a set of bathrooms of considerable size with hot water pools (boilers) and cold water (fridge). As if that wasn’t enough, other smaller baths complete the set with a cold-water pool and three small hot tubs. A heating system (hypocaust), still visible, was used to heat the boiler. The most spectacular part of the Centcelles monumental complex is the so-called dome room.
The monumental ensemble of Centcelles that we can see today was erected at the beginning of the 5th century AD. It was located very close to the city of Tarraco, next to the river and at the foot of the road that led inland. It is a very unknown tresaure at the town of Constanti. The mosaics are really outstanding and to our opinion the best asset to make your visit really worth. Click here to check the timetable and prices with discount.
Villa Romana d’Els Munts
Villa Romana d’Els Munts is original from the 1st century AD but it was abandoned at the beginning of the second century to build a great aristocratic villa. At the end of the 3rd century there was a fire that caused the partial destruction of the villa. At the beginning of the 5th century, there were some renovation Works that shaped the late Roman and Visigoth villa excavated in the 20th Century. It was located 12 kilometers from Tárraco and specially during the 2nd Century it was a residential villa of exceptional dimensions and luxury.
We find there paintings on the walls, mosaic floors, sculptures, fountains, artificial ponds and columns all over. It is an excellent spot to understand the luxurious life of the Roman elites. Besides that the location of Villa Romana d’Els Munts is Altafulla, a very outstanding town in Costa Daurada to enjoy the beach and sightseeing around. Read here our article about Altafulla. The price of the visit is 4 euros. Click here for updated information.
Roman Quarry of El Mèdol
It is a large quarry where thousands of slaves work, died and took out about 50,000 cubic meters of stones. The extraction system of the ashlars are still visible on some walls of the quarry. The most emblematic element is the Mèdol needle, a witness column more than 16 meters high, used to track how fast the extraction worked.
The access to this awesome remain of Roman history heritage is unfortunately not very well conditioned. By car you can reach the Quarry from the AP-7 motorway (south direction) by the Mèdol area or from the N-340 road: from La Mora roundabout, you have to cross the motorway and then continue on foot for about 5 minutes in direction to Tarragona.
Torre dels Escipions
This tower is not a tower and probably has nothing to with the Scipio brothers, who were two of the most famous generals of the Roman Empire. During a long period of the history the experts thought that the monument was the old tomb of these two brothers because of the two figures we can see on the monument. Both figures are dressed in oriental style: a short tunic with sleeves, narrow trousers tight around the ankles, a cloak and a Phrygian cap.
Actually what we can see on the tower is two reliefs that represent the god Attis. The monument is on the ancient Via Augusta, which is the way to Tarraco from Rome. Romans used to build their mausoleums along the roads since they thought that the presence of the travellers kept alive the memory of their relatives. So it was pretty normal to have all along the way of the road a lot of tombs to be seen built in the properties of the relatives of the dead people who were inside.