Tarragona Roman Forum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Tarragona Roman Forum

Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

Peta Stamper

19 Apr 2021

About Tarragona Roman Forum

The Tarragona Roman Forum houses the ruins of what was the central square of the Ancient Roman city of Tarraco. The site is UNESCO listed. A major Roman city, Terraco was the capital of the province of Nearer Spain. Today, little remains at this site beyond a scattering of ruins and several standing columns, a shadow of the forum’s former glory.

Tarragona Roman Forum history

The Roman city of Tarraco was the capital of the Hispania Tarraconensis as well as a fortress against the Carthaginians, and therefore was one of the empire’s most important cities. Tarragona’s provincial forum was built around 30 BC, the city being expanded after Augustus wintered there during his Cantabrian campaign.

Like most Roman cities, the Tarragona forum would have functioned as a central marketplace and social space that often saw political discussions and debate, meetings and business arrangements. Modelled on the Roman Forum, fora were located at the intersection of the city’s main streets and contain a Temple of Jupiter, as well as a basilica and large steps for speeches.

Unlike most other cities (but along with Merida and Cordoba), Tarragona as a provincial capital had two fora: one in the lower town which housed issues concerning the town itself, and another in the upper town that saw larger ceremonies and legal proceedings related to the province. The provincial forum was excavated in the 1920s.

Tarragona Roman Forum today

What remains today of Tarragona’s Roman Forum are the ruined basilica, cistern and several impressive distinctive Corinthian columns with a fluted length and cornice decorated with leaves of the provincial forum. What remains of the town’s forum is a large brick wall in Plaça del Forum, 15 minutes walk away.

You can clearly see the arches from which public courts would have been held in the basilica, as well as the foundations of steps where imperial speeches would have been made. Walking along the footbridge, imagine yourself in this busy Roman metropolis, still a bustling town.

Getting to Tarragona Roman Forum

Tarragona is located only 100km south of Barcelona on the golden coast. If driving from Barcelona, follow the C-32 and AP-7 along the coast to the forum. There is nearby parking at Mitja Lluna.

For those using public transport, the Fòrum bus stop on line 53 is a 2 minute walk from the forum. Prat de la Riba serves lines 3, 6, 22, 23, 30, 34 and 54, and is 3 minutes away.

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