The name Costa Daurada defines the area between the Garraf Coast, to the south of Barcelona, and the mouth of the River Ebro. Inland it includes the wine producing counties of Priorat and Conca de Barberà.
The Costa Daurada or “Golden Coast” takes its name from the colour of the fine sand of its fabulous beaches, with their warm, transparent waters that shelve gently into the Mediterranean, making them ideal for enjoying with children.
The territory that today makes up the province of Tarragona, and particularly its coastline, has over the centuries been influenced by the most diverse cultures. Iberians, Romans, Muslims, Jews and Christians have all left their mark on the idiosyncrasy of these lands and have influenced its culture.
All this has left us with historical remains of great interest, including the monuments of Roman Tarraco, the monasteries of the Cistercian Route, the Modernist buildings of Reus and other towns along the coast, and the Carthusian monastery of Scala Dei in Priorat county.
In addition to these important material vestiges, the diverse civilisations have considerably influenced the region’s gastronomy and folklore. The Santa Tecla festival in Tarragona and the “castellers” or “human towers” in Valls, a town that is also famous for its “calçots” (spring onions grilled over hot coals), are just two examples that should not be missed.
+ Info at:
Tarragona Provincial Government Tourism Board:
www.costadaurada.info – Tel: 977.23.03.12
In 218 BC Roman troops under the command of Publius Cornelius Scipio founded Tarraco as a key military emplacement during the Second Punic War. In a very short time it became the flamboyant capital of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior.
Its great importance during that period led to the construction of magnificent public buildings, the remains of which can now be seen in different parts of the city of Tarragona. The excellent state of preservation of these vestiges of Imperial Tarraco led to them being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.
Not to be missed among the monuments and remains of Tarraco are the Roman Walls (the oldest Roman remains on the Iberian Peninsula), the Theatre, the Amphitheatre, Scipios’ Tower and the Early Christian Necropolis. There are other important Roman remains on the outskirts of the city, including Les Ferreres Aqueduct and the Arch of Berà. The National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona (MNAT) has a fascinating collection of finds from excavations carried out in the city.
More information at:
Tarragona Municipal Tourism Board:
www.tarragonaturisme.cat/ - Tel.: (+34) 977 250 795
National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona:
http://www.mnat.cat/ - Tel: (+34) 977 25 15 15
All along the coastal strip and the lower reaches of the Ebro there are important vestiges of the Iberian civilisation. The Iberians were made up of different tribes who settled on high points near the River Ebro and along the whole Mediterranean coastline. The large Iberian village of Calafell has been fully restored.
The Iberian Citadel of Calafell:
www.ciutadellaiberica.com/ - Tel: (+34) 977 694 683
The counties of Alt Camp and Conca de Barberà, in the interior of Tarragona province, and the county of Urgell, in neighbouring Lleida province, are home to three important Cistercian monasteries: Poblet, Santes Creus and Vallbona de les Monges.
These three monastic complexes make up the Cistercian Route, a magnificent addition to Catalonia’s cultural tourism offer that was created in 1989 to make these Cistercian monasteries more widely known and to breathe new life into the largely rural counties in which they are located.
The Monastery of Poblet is the largest inhabited Cistercian complex in Europe. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991.
The Monastery of Vallbona de les Monges in the county of Urgell is exceptional for having been occupied by nuns without interruption since the 12th century.
The Monastery of Santes Creus, the only site on the itinerary currently without a monastic community, is the best example of Bernadine architecture.
More information at:
Office for the Management of the Cistercian Route.
San José, 18 – 43400 Montblanc
www.larutadelcister.info - Tel: (+34) 977 861 232
Modernism was an artistic movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It had a considerable impact in Catalonia and particularly in the town of Reus. World-famous architects such as Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Muntaner left their mark here on buildings of great artistic value, including the Pere Mata Institute and the Navas House.
Reus Town Council has created the “Reus Modernist Itinerary” that includes a guided tour of the most significant buildings from this period in the town centre.
It has also opened the “Gaudí Centre”, a space designed to keep the memory of Antoni Gaudí alive and an innovative interpretation centre of the Modernist movement.
Reus Tourist Office (Gaudí Centre)
www.reusturisme.cat/ - Tel: 977 010 670
Covering approximately 320 square kilometres, the Ebro Delta is the second largest wetland in the western Mediterranean after the Camargue in Provence, France. Here you will find fresh and salt water lagoons, impressive dunes, spacious bays and large stretches of riverside woodland. La Tancada and L’Encanyissada lagoons, the salt pans of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, river islands such as that of Buda, Els Alfacs Bay and El Fangar and La Banya points make up a highly diverse landscape rich in riverside vegetation and birdlife.
Humans have added to the landscape with their rice fields, salt pans and oyster and mussel culture racks, giving the lower reaches of the Ebro their very particular landscape.
Rising in the middle of Priorat county, well known for its wines, are the Montsant Mountains. Reaching their maximum height of 1,163 metres at La Roca Corbatera, near the village of Cornudella de Montsant, the range is roughly 20 kilometres long and has impressive cliffs and curious rock formations that give it a unique personality.
At the foot of the mountains are the ruins of the oldest Carthusian monastery in Spain, Scala Dei, which dates back to 1194. This magnificent historical complex was abandoned in the 19th century when it was confiscated by the government minister Juan Álvarez de Mendizabal. It is now open to visitors, who will be able to appreciate its beauty.
In this setting of great natural and scenic beauty there is a wide variety of flora and fauna and many species that are found in very few other places in the region. The area is also criss-crossed by footpaths and hiking routes that will take you to caves, hermitages and ravines just a short distance from the vineyards.
The Prades Mountains cover an area of more than 300 square kilometres in the counties of Alt Camp, Baix Camp, Conca de Barberà and Priorat. They form part of the pre-coastal range that runs from the north to the south of Catalonia. Their vegetation is largely Mediterranean woodland.
The Rivers Siurana, Brugent and Glorieta have helped to configure these mountains and today they provide an ideal environment for a wide variety of fauna and flora.
The area’s rural footpaths are frequented by hikers who are attracted by the variety of landscapes. The highest point (1,202 metres) is El Tossal de la Baltasana (on the GR Long Distance Footpath 171).
Other places of interest in these mountains are the Font Major Cave in L’Espluga de Francolí, the church of Santa María in Prades and the monastery of Santa María de Poblet, part of the Cistercian Route, all replete with myths and legends.