Do you know what lies between Portbou and Les Cases d'Alcanar? Kilometers of landscapes full of contrasts and nuances. From the high Pyrenees mountain to the permanent contact with the Mediterranean Sea, passing through forests, rivers, vineyards and wetlands unique in Europe. If you do not know the territory, congratulations, because as we would say in Catalan: “Catalunya és casa teva!” (Catalonia is your home!)”
We have prepared 10 proposals you cannot miss to know our country a little more. In addition, if you want to expand the universe of experiences, you can book some activities to live fully in the Costa Daurada or the rest of Catalonia.
1. AVE TARRACO: WELCOME IN THE CAPITAL TOWN OF THE PROVINCE
Its light seduced to the Romans in past days, and it is evident that it has preserved its charm. They came, they saw and they fell in love. They wanted to control the lands north of the Ebro and they turned Tarraco into one of the main cities of Hispania. For Roman merchants and citizens it meant reaching a place full of opportunities, where they reproduced their active public and social life. A great urban legacy has been preserved, like the amphitheater, the circus or the forum, as well as the walls that surrounded the whole city. In 2000, the archaeological complex of Tarraco was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO and, every year in May, the Tarraco Viva Festival is celebrated; it is the best moment to relive the most symbolic characters, stories and areas of that Roman Tarragona.
2. PORTAVENTURA WORLD: A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD
Can you imagine taking a trip through Polynesia, China, Mexico or the Far West on a single day? PortAventura World is one of the largest theme parks in Europe; it includes a water park and four hotels set in different times and places where you can not only stay, but feel as if you stayed outside of space or time. In addition, Ferrari Land, which is called to become the most important amusement park for lovers of motorsport and especially the Ferrari universe, will open its doors in 2017 next to the PortAventura World leisure complex.
3. THE WILDEST NATURE IN THE EBRO DELTA
Do you want to disconnect from the world in one of Europe´s largest wetlands? The Ebro Delta offers you an immense reserve of birds, lagoons and kilometer-long rice fields to enjoy the plainest landscape of Catalonia. Considered a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO as a unique ecosystem in the world, it is home to one of the most unique biodiversities in the Mediterranean area. There are between 50,000 and 100,000 bird of 300 different species! In addition, if you tour the Delta by bicycle, you can discover the barracks, the old constructions of the area, as well as participate in popular activities such as the festivals of the plantada (planting), or sega (harvest), where the traditional way of rice farming is reproduced. It is also mandatory that you taste a good dish of duck with rice, considered one of the most typical recipes in the area!
4. THE ARCHITECTURE OF FANTASY IN BARCELONA
The Barcelona at the end of the 19th century, the host of the 1888 Universal Exhibition, was a city in an effervescence in which architecture lived a moment of renewal. Barcelona wanted to be a modern city and claim its identity around the world. The temples, the exhibition halls and the civil buildings were built in response to the sinuous and creative forms of modernism. The architect Antoni Gaudí became the emblem of this artistic school which, today, is one of the aesthetic claims of Catalan culture. Barcelona has some must-sees such as the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera or Casa Batlló, and now inaugurates a route through the buildings with more patrimonial value worth knowing.
5. MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL!
One hour from Tarragona, we find one of the biggest sporting temples in the world, the Camp Nou, the Futbol Club Barcelona stadium. Without a doubt, Barça is one of the most internationally known cultural emblems of Catalonia. The fact is that in any country in the world, from east to west, and in any neighborhood, there are people who have heard of this team and even have a poster Messi in the dining room. Visiting us also means stepping on the lawn where players like Romario or Ronaldinho made fans dream, as well as contemplate in the Barçca Museum all the trophies achieved during the centennial history of this club. Feel like a soccer star for a few minutes!
6. CATALONIA´S MAGIC MOUNTAIN
In less than two hours from Tarragona we find the Montserrat Mountain. Like in the book of the writer Thomas Mann, Catalonia has its particular magic mountain., amass of rounded shapes that houses a temple to venerate La Moreneta, the virgin patroness of our small country. Many say that visiting Montserrat is the best way to penetrate into a unique spirituality. This area offers you the opportunity to trek and visit the Sanctuary, which houses architectural and sculptural pieces unique in the world. If you want to contemplate an unforgettable landscape without putting your hands on the wheel, we advise you to access Montserrat through the train rack, from where you can capture some unique snapshots of the mountain for your best photo galleries.
7. THE HISTORICAL NARROW STREETS OF GIRONA
Are you fascinated by the history of Jews in Europe? If you want to follow the steps of this group of people in continuous exodus, in Catalonia you will find traces of its passage. At two hours and quarter away from Tarragona, there is another of the towns you never should miss: Girona. A city with a unique cultural effervescence in Catalonia, which seduces the traveler by the beauty of its narrow streets, shops with charm and its colorful river front. One of the most emblematic areas of the historic center of the city is the call, formed by a labyrinth of narrow streets and courtyards that maintain the aura of medieval times. It is one of the best conserved Jewish Quarters in the world and an evident sample of the importance the Jewish culture possessed in Girona. If it is winter, we recommend you to have a good hot chocolate in one of its pleasant cafes!
8. FIGUERES: HOMELAND OF SURREALISM
Two and a half hours from Tarragona, we have one of the epicenter centers of the surrealist movement. Why? Because it is the birthplace of Salvador Dalí, who built in this city the Dalí Theater-Museum from the remains of the old Municipal Theater of Figueres that was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. We warn you: This is not a conventional museum! The overflowing imagination of Dalí translates into unique elements that surprise the visitor, both inside and outside the building, like giant eggs crowning the façade. In addition, this museum contains a wide representation of the most relevant works of the artist who inverted all formal logic and forever marked the artistic landscape of the Ampurdán.
. BOÍ VALLEY: REMAINS OF THE ROMANESQUE EPCOHE
Less than four hours from Tarragona, we can almost touch the sky with our fingers. Declared a World Heritage Site, the Vall de Boí is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful corners of the Pyrenees. Covered with snow in winter and electric green in spring, between its meadows and its lush landscape, it hides a large number of Catalan Romanesque jewels. These churches have been preserved over time thanks to the isolation of the valley well into the last century. Neither builders nor artists, nor architects nor priests altered this architecture of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Do not miss the sets of mural painting in the churches of Sant Climent y Santa Maria de Taüll and Sant Joan de Boí, currently preserved in the National Museum of Catalonian Arts (MNAC), as well as the carvings produced by the Erill Workshop, like the Descent of Erill la Vall of the Santa Eulalia de Erill-la-Vall church.
10. AIGÜESTORTES: THE BEST NATURAL POSTCARD
Pure beauty in the heart of the Pyrenees! Less than four hours from Tarragona, we find the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, , the most impressive of Catalonia. It has summits exceeding 3,000 meters, more than 200 ponds of various shapes and colors, as well as rivers, ravines, waterfalls and swamps that can make you feel as if you were, truly, in the water country. In addition to recreating you with its sensorial beauty, you can also practice sports in contact with nature. During the four seasons of the year, you can undertake excursions, snowshoeing, naturalist journeys and other activities for free or with a guide.