Some 180 kilometers south of Barcelona and some 90 kilometers south of Tarragona lies Tortosa in the province of Catalonia, Spain. A city often overlooked, but certainly worth a visit. For the last couple of years, I have been to Spain at least once a year and I think it’s very important to not only visit highlights like Barcelona and Madrid, but also smaller and lesser known cities. I spent an afternoon in Tortosa on a sunny day in the summer. Yes, it was hot, but it was also an afternoon full of culture!
The cathedral of Tortosa
One of the main sights of Tortosa is its cathedral: Catedral de Santa María de Tortosa. Building of the church began in 1347. It is mainly built in a gothic style, although the facade is baroque (from the eighteenth century). It was built on the site of an older church, which was again built on the old Roman forum. A lot of history in one place! In front of the baroque facade, you can see some archaeological excavations.
Unfortunately, it was not allowed to take pictures inside the cathedral, but I could take a picture of the cloister, which was simple but very elegant. There was also an exhibition inside a building next to the cathedral with some valuable objects.
The river Ebro
The river Ebro flows through Tortosa and is a very important river for the region. Tortosa is very close to the Ebro Delta as well, one of the largest wetland areas in the western Mediterranean region and for a large part a national park. I have yet to visit this park, but I have heard good things about it (though to be honest, since I am from the Netherlands, I prefer to see mountains/hills instead of flat land when I’m abroad).
The castle and other highlights
Another important sight of Tortosa is the Castle of Sant Joan (also known as La Suda). Nowadays a hotel, the castle has been an important fortress in Muslim times as well as during the subsequent christian period. The castle was founded in 944, although Iberian and Roman remains have been found here as well. The castle has a great feature over the city, the river Ebro, the mountains in the distance, and the cathedral (see featured image). You can walk alongside a large part of the fortification walls and get a view of almost every side.
During the rest of our afternoon, we strolled through the old streets of Tortosa and walked beside the Ebro. Tortosa is very close to the sea, but that’s not the feel you get from this city. The presence of the mountains in the distance is much stronger. Perfect when you are spending your holiday in a coastal town and want to escape the sea for a few hours.
I had a good time in Tortosa! It is not a town you need a few days to explore, but it is perfect for an afternoon away from the beach or as a stop on your road trip through Spain.
What places in Spain have you visited?