An Iberian town, ancient Tarraco was captured (218 BC) by the Romans in the Second Punic War, and was fortified by them against Carthage. Augustus made it the capital of the vast province of Tarraconensis. It became a flourishing commercial center; among the Roman remains are ruins of its walls and an aqueduct. Having fallen to the Visigoths (5th cent.) and the Moors (8th cent.), Tarragona was recovered in the early 12th cent. by Christian Spain, but it declined when its trade was captured by Barcelona and Valencia. The construction of a modern port gave it new importance.
The imposing Romanesque-Gothic cathedral has one of Spain's finest cloisters (13th cent.). Near it are the archiepiscopal palace and the archaeological museum. The Carthusian monks expelled (1903) from La Grande Chartreuse in France settled in the city and still produce their famous liqueur. There is a pontifical university in Tarragona.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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