Fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

Here is the story of our day trip to the coastal towns of Tarragona and Sitges. Did you know that Tarragona was founded in 218BC as the first Roman city in Spain? What a fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges to see these Roman ruins.

Tarraco is the ancient name of the current city of Tarragona (Catalonia, Spain). It was the oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula. It became the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior during the period of the Roman Republic, and of Hispania Tarraconensis following the latter’s creation during the Roman Empire.

In 2000, the archaeological ensemble of Tarraco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

Statue of Caesar looking out at the Mediterranean sea

Tarraco is the first, but not the only Roman city established in Spain and where you will find the best-preserved Roman archaeological sites in Spain! We were eager to see these Roman ruins and learn about this town’s history.

Our all-day tour also included a trip to the seaside village of Sitges, a delightful bonus.


GetYourGuide.com is the vendor we booked this adventure with. I can wholeheartedly recommend this tour company and this particular tour, one of the major highlights of our trip.

Our eight person van tour included our guide Louis, tourists from Virginia, Puerto Rico, and Lithuania. Louis was amazingly adept at keeping each of us informed and engaged throughout the tour.

Roman quarry of El Mèdol

Our first stop of the day at the Roman quarry of El Mèdol, the approximately 700-foot-wide quarry the Romans built and used to provide stone for many structures nearby Tarraco.

The untouched monolithic spire shown above is called the “agulla de Mèdol.”

The quarry stones were used to build many buildings near Tarraco and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage area that makes up the archaeological site of Tarraco.

Aqueduct Ferreres

Our second introduction to Roman ruins, two and a half miles from Tarragona, was at the Aqueduct Ferreres, also called the Devil’s Bridge. Incredible sight to see!

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

The Devil’s Bridge, over 2000 years old, was built to provide water from the River Francoli to the town of Tarraco. It was built by the Romans under the leadership of Augustus, the first emperor of Rome.

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

The over 800-foot Aqueduct delivered water to the town of Tarragona up until the 18th century. We were thrilled to walk across the entire span from one side to the other. What an incredible feat of engineering it is. How can a structure this old still be standing?

Roman Sundial

This large and ancient stone sundial is in place on the steps leading to the Amphitheater in Tarragona. The numbers on this sundial are carved using Roman numerals and the belief is that the sundial dates to Roman times.

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

“Solem di texi te qve sol hic si manes,
tarraconis vrit amor”

“When the gods of the sun illuminate here creating a shadow,
the love flows in Tarraco.Roman Forum Tarragona

Latin inscription carved into stone of sundial

Tarragona Amphitheater

This preserved Amphitheater from the second century is one of seven in Spain that is open to the public. At one time, this gigantic amphitheater provided space for 12,000 spectators to watch battles of the gladiators.

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

Through the centuries, other structures have been built over the Amphitheater, adding different layers of history so that today only a tiny portion of the original site is visible.

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

The ruins in the shape of a cross are the remains of the 12th-century church of Santa Maria del Miracle. This ruin also was built over yet another existing church ruin.

We visited the Colesseum in Rome not too long ago and I can see, as I am sure you can also, that the arena in Tarragona is similar in construction and design. See Rome — Andrà tutto bene.

Roman Circus and Praetorian Tower

The Roman Circus and Praetorian Tower are within walking distance of the Amphitheater. It is easy not difficult for us to visualize chariot races taking place here all those years ago.

Take a look in the photo at the shape of the cross in these ruins. These are the remains of the 12th century church of Santa Maria del Miracle that was built over yet another church.

We were fortunate enough to go to the top of the tower and see the beautiful 360-degree view of the town. Thankfully Louis arranged for us to take the elevator instead of climbing the many steps!

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

The City Wall

The original wall, built in the 3rd century B.C., is the oldest Roman structure found outside Italy and at one time, it was over two miles long. The Roman portion of the wall remaining in Tarragona today extends not much more than half a mile.

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

An outer wall was added during the 16th through 18th centuries to provide additional protection to the town. The average height of the walls is 39 feet and, in some places, 20 feet thick. Incredible construction, right?

The Cathedral

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

This beautiful Cathedral, consecrated in 1331 is built where a Roman temple once stood and is considered one of the grandest cathedrals in Catalona. Some archaeologists believe this Cathedral sits over a portion of a temple to Emperor Augustus.


fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

On our way back to Barcelona, we stopped in the fishing town of Sitges. Sitges is also home to Playa de San Sebastian, often considered one of the best urban beaches in Europe.

fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

We walked on the beach, dipped our toes in the chilly Mediterranean sea, shopped, and enjoyed a cold drink at one of the many bars along the street.

Quaint little kiosks selling all kinds of crafts, clothing, and gifts line the beach, making this an excellent spot for souvenirs.

We so enjoyed this tour with Louis. He related so many historical stories and was able to quickly answer all the many questions we all asked of him.

He selected an excellent restaurant in the middle of Tarragona’s Ramblas, where we had a great meal, a restaurant I would return to if I could. A terrific day!

Fascinating day trip to Tarragona and SitgesFascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

9 thoughts on “Fascinating day trip to Tarragona and Sitges

  1. Pingback: Girona’s history, legends, and beauty | Always Want To Go
  2. Fascinating! You were very brave to walk across that bridge!

    1. Not so brave; the sides of the aqueduct came almost up to the top of my head; almost five feet deep!

  3. It’s hard to imagine that an aqueduct is still there after 2,000 years and that you can still walk on it! Fascinating architectural structure! And the concept of buildings atop ancient ruins is amazing.

    1. I thought the same thing. It was very amazing to see.

  4. Great Article!! Really enjoy reading about your trip! Will Add Tarragona to my bucket list! Can’t wait to visit for myself!!
    Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Thank you Earney. Tarragona was a special place, another one I would love to return to one day.

    2. Great reporting!! You should write for travel/tour guides.

      1. Thank you, Earney. I just enjoy recording my memories and sharing them with you guys.

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