City of Tarraco, at Tarragona.
Plano de Tárraco, sobre la actual Tarragona
Plan of Tarraco, over actual Tarragona.
Scholars think there were different Iberian villages at the mouth of Francoli river from 5th century b.C. At this area during Punic wars, Roman army set a castra in order to ensure its first Peninsular victories. Little by little, this military castra became more important: it became the basis of strategy that would lead to the total victory. It was called "Scipionis opus", i.e. 'work by Scipio'.
After their arrival at the Peninsula, during the first years, Roman would try to take this land. At 2nd century b.C. the old castrum was already walled adn looking like a Roman city with every public service.
At year 45 b.C. Julius Caesar, after defeating Pompeius, named this population a Colonia Iulia Urbs Tarraco (CIUT). Next years temples, a municipal comitium and a theater were built. This city, crossed by the Augustus Way, was the habitation for more than 30.000 persons.
August visited the city many times: firstly when he was Iulius Caesar's grandson and nephew -still named Octavius-. Later, as he was already Emperor, made Tarraco -year 27 a.C.- the capital of Citerior Hispania. After political reforms, it became capital for Tarraconensis province. It would lose this condition of capital before the fall of Roman Empire.
It was just at one of these visits when this city enjoyed an improvement of its services and infrastructures: muncipal comitium was enlarged, temples for Imperial adoration were built, coinage was created... Indeed, every public building necessary for a great city were enlarged or redecorated: an impressive municipal comitium was elevated, a circus, an amphitheater, an aqueduct, a legal basilica and many other buildings and residential houses.
From its origin, urban design of Tarraco did evolution in a singular way, specially caused by land orography. There were platforms "like terraces" that decorated monumental walls. There, buildings and wholes, as provincial comitium could be seen. Walls built from its origin -3rd to 2nd centuries b.C.- also marked urban development, that would take huge dimensions: more than 70 Ha.
Between 1st and 2nd centuries increasing of Tarraco was clear, but it receased at 3rd century. It never lost its political importance, but could not keep its economical one. At this age, persecutions to Christians are frequent: they came to a climax at 275 after martyrdom of Saints Fructuosus, Augurius and Eulogíus, who were burnt alive at the Amphitheater.
At 5th century, Visigothic invasions are permanent, up to year 475, when Alaricus King steadily took the city.
Inside this city there are a lot of remainings: many of them are considered "Artistic Historical Monuments":