Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tarragona & The Pyrenees

When we returned from Marrakesh, we flew into Reus, Spain - the airport from which we were able to catch the 24 euro roundtrip/each plane to Morocco. We arrived around 10:00pm, so we spent the night in Reus. And, since we were already so far from home, we decided to profit from our location and spend a day in Spain and some time skiing in the Pyrenees (which were on our way home from Reus).

Tarragona is a city about 15 minutes from Reus, and it has an amazing number of Roman ruins. That is where we spent our day in Spain.

Tarragona is right on the coast of the Med, which is probably why the Romans built a city there. Here is a view of the coast from atop the Roman Circus ruins.

The Roman city was immense! There was a Circus (home of chariot races), a Colosseum, and a Forum.

The Circus was so massive during it's era (based on the descriptions we read) that it would outsize an American football stadium. Now, the ruins are but a mere portion of that size. That's where we started our tour of Tarragona, and it was fascinating.

A lot of the Circus ruins are below ground now. It was unclear to us if they always were underground, or if they were buried over time. There were over 50 enormous arches that supported some of the structure (the entryway, I believe), and we walked through the remaining part of this section of the building. The scale is incredible, especially considering that this was built over 2000 years ago!

This underground portion was used for many purposes once the Romans were toppled from power. It was a dump, and then it was a munitions storage facility. Now, the Spanish are trying to preserve what is left.

In the picture above, you can see one of the arches from the entryway. I took this picture standing atop the circus building. Unfortunately, we were never in a place where I could take a complete picture of the Circus (because it is enormous).

Below are several photos of the Colosseum. The first picture is a view of the Colosseum from the Circus.

This is a picture of the center of the Colosseum, where you can see a bit of the underground area, which is where the animals and gladiators were often raised from below the stage via pulleys & trapdoors.

And here is a closeup of the underground portion of the Colosseum stage.

Below is a picture of remaining columns in the Forum. The Forum was quite spread out. Now it is completely surrounded by huge (and not pretty) Spanish buildings. You can see an apartment building in the background. The unattractive background scenery did not encourage me to take additional pictures.

Tarragona's city centre is on a hill, which overlooks the ocean and many of the Roman ruins. Here is a view of the city centre from atop the Roman Circus ruins.

There is also a very nice pedestrian area from the Roman ruins, along the coast a bit, and through the commercial part of the city - much like the pedestrian area in Barcelona. There were even interesting & slightly bizarre statues along the pedestrian area here (as in Barcelona). The only things missing were the humans posing as statues. Of course, it was rainy, and that may have kept the human statues indoors.

As for our time in the Pyrenees, I do not have any photos to share. We were so busy skiing that the camera remained in our little hotel/apartment. However, we had an excellent time! The kids are quite the accomplished skiers already.

Love to all!!

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