Roman artifacts and Moorish ruins along the Spanish hillsides
We arrived in Tarragona in late July. On our first day in town, our daughter headed out to a local amusement park with friends, while we went and explored the town. There are quite a few Roman ruins and we did a quick tour of most of the major ones. The town is up on a hill above the water, but there are actually handy escalators in strategic places along the way, so we didn’t have to climb several hundred steps.
Tarragona has a huge cathedral and the old town is surrounded by defensive walls. The bottom of the walls dates back to 200BC, and the newer walls (around 1100AD) were built on top of the old Roman structures.
We walked along the ancient town wall and came upon a number of other Roman remnants including a forum, an amphitheater, and a large waterfront circus used for chariot races.
By 5pm we had had enough of the heat, so we headed back to the Ship and had dinner in.
The next morning, we left for an all-day tour of the Priorat region. This is a very mountainous area that produces some very good wines. Along the way, we saw many vineyards on steep terrain with rocky cliffs as backdrops.
First we visited the remnants of a Carthusian monastery whose silent monks first introduced viniculture to the area in the late 1100s. The monks were kicked out by the state in the 1800s, and the locals, who were sick of the church, destroyed most of the monastery. Part of it has been restored and now shows how the monks lived.
After the monastery we drove to the village of Poboleda and had a great lunch at a restaurant named Brots.
Our next stop was the Moorish ruins in the 12th century village of Siurana. This tiny village has only 30 or so full time inhabitants and is literally perched on top of a cliff. The surrounding scenery was spectacular, with steep cliffs of granite and deep red stone.
The views were incredible with a blue lake way down below on one side, and more steep cliffs across a wooded valley on the other.
The drive up and down the mountain was on a very narrow and winding road over steep cliff edges. I distracted myself with the lovely views.