If you go to the Ebro Delta area and do not plan to stop in Tortosa, or you plan to spend little time … Think again. You would miss one of the most charming cities in Catalonia. Definitely, one of our favorites. We assure you that there is a lot what to see in Tortosa. A small city where everything is at hand, which is full of heritage – sometimes a little hidden – and history. A city in which the three cultures coexisted – Arab, Christian and Jewish – that prospered in the Middle Ages and that had its golden age in the sixteenth century. Hence the “Renaissance city” of Catalonia and its Renaissance Festival. And a city that suffered the ravages of the Civil War, but rose again and that in the XXI century continues to evolve and transform … even in the historic center.
A castle of Arab origin, modernist houses, a Gothic cathedral with Renaissance and Baroque touches, Roman remains, one of the jewels of the Renaissance of Catalonia, a place to remember the horrors of the Civil War …
Have we convinced you? Will you accompany us then for our 10 places to see in Tortosa? At the end, a “+1” also awaits you…
1. The Zuda Castle: the Parador and the views of Tortosa
If the question is what to see in TortosaHow about all Tortosa? From the wall of the Castle of the Zuda There is a Panoramic view of the entire historic center of the city, with the cathedral in the foreground and the massif of Els Ports in the background. A good place to start your visit and spend some time taking pictures… They will have to drag you out of there.
One Roman Acropolisone Arab Alcazaba built in the tenth century by Abderramán III, prison after the conquest of Tortosa by Ramon Berenguer IV in the twelfth century, Royal residence from the thirteenth century with James I of Aragon, Court of Justicetoday Parador de Turismo… It can’t be said that he hasn’t had an intense life.
Of course, there is not much left of its origins. From the Islamic period, the layout and foundations of the walls are preserved, a huge well with its underground galleries and cisterns and the only open-air Islamic necropolis in Catalonia. And from medieval times, the parade ground, the magazine ship and some Gothic windows. By the way, they told us that they are going to Rehabilitate the tunnels to visit themWe will have to go back!
2. The historic center with a guided tour or on your own
From above it is fine, but we will have to go down to those Narrow streets of the historic center to go through them, right? A good starting point is Carrer Francesc Gimeno, where you can start a Guided tour so that they tell you the history and curiosities of the city.
If you go for free, you can not get lost in the Surroundings of the Cathedral:
- the Plaza de la Cinta, with one of the entrances of the cathedral and Casa Grego, the most representative modernist house of the municipal architect Pau Monguió i Segura;
- The reproduction of the commemorative tombstone of the foundation of the Arab shipyards of the tenth century;
- the Portal del Romeu, the only interior door of medieval Tortosa that is preserved, with the great reliefs of San Cristóbal and Santiago – which would have helped to penetrate the Saracen defenses here;
- the Episcopal Palace, Gothic, with its courtyard with floating staircase and its chapel with its original reliefs: the Virgin with the child, angels, saints, bishops …;
- the Olive Palacer of Boteller, an old Gothic palace in which Philip II even stayed, which originally overlooked the river and has now been moved – look at the shell marks of the Civil War, when its luxurious interiors were destroyed;
- the Carrer de la Rosa, one of the main axes of the historic center, with the facades of some of the most representative civil buildings of the city, such as the Despuig Palace and the Oriol Palace, both Gothic –look out over the courtyards–;
- the Walk of Cultures, an art installation that tells the story of Tortosa along the castle’s old Paseo de Ronda.
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On your tour of the historic center of Tortosa, do not miss the Franquet Passage, one of our favorite corners of the city.
3. Tortosa Cathedral and video mapping
If there is a building you have what to visit in Tortosa It is, without a doubt, the St. Mary’s Cathedral. Don’t let its unfinished baroque façade fool you. Inside one of the Jewels of Catalan Gothic. Of course, we do not expect such slender ships or that cloister. Although, yes, there is no lack of baroque in the interior: the Chapel of the Ribbon It is a small church within the church, a Marian mini-sanctuary decorated in tutiplén, with its pink jasper of Tortosa and other noble marbles.
Come on, you have to get in. In addition, the ticket includes the Cathedral Museum, with about 200 pieces including sculptures, paintings, tapestries, goldsmith objects, codices, the choir stalls of the sixteenth century …
And don’t miss the new Video Mapping on the façade of the cathedral which tells the story of Tortosa. We were lucky enough to see it right on the opening day. They screen it on Fridays and Saturdays and in summer – from the end of June to the beginning of September – also on Thursdays, at 22:00 and 22:30. Just in case, check out the tourist office beforehand.
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There are a few theories about the Why the façade of the cathedral is not finished, which you will surely hear about in Tortosa. If you cross the Ebro, in front of the Xapla bar, you will find a metal trompe l’oeil that will allow you to see what the completed Baroque façade would have been like. You just have to position yourself so that the current façade fits into the hole and you will see the towers as they were projected.
4. The Royal Colleges
If there is a “culprit” that Tortosa has earned the nickname of “city of the Renaissance” of Catalonia is the courtyard of the College of Santiago and San Matías. The only Renaissance courtyard in Catalonia and surely the most significant civil work of this style of the whole community. A real pass. We entertained ourselves for a long time looking at the royal couples of Aragon, the representations of the winds, the apostles and prophets, the evangelists …
The Colegio de Santiago y San Matías is part of the set of Royal Colleges, built in Renaissance times – sixteenth century – to educate the Moors. The other two buildings in the complex are the College of San Jorge and Santo Domingo and the Church of Santo Domingo. Of the first, former convent and university of the city, only the Renaissance exterior façade is preserved. The second, on the other hand, today hosts the permanent exhibition on the city and the Renaissance Festival, with jewels such as the old portal of the City House and its wardrobe-documentary archive of the sixteenth century. Someday we have to go to the Tortosa Renaissance Festival!
The entrance to the Royal Colleges includes a visit to the Colleges of Santiago and San Matías and the church of Santo Domingo. This ticket is included in the Tortosa Card, we advise you if you are going to visit other Monumentos and museums in the city. In the web of tourism of Tortosa you have more information.
5. Tortosa Cota 0
If you have been in Tortosa a few years ago – for JAAC it was the second time – you will have noticed a “small” difference: the houses that were in front of the cathedral have been demolished leaving the façade of the church visible from the Ebro. After the demolition, they have also been made Archaeological excavations And, as a result, under the new Cathedral Square, a museum has been born. Opened in 2023, Tortosa Cota 0 is a tour of 1,500 years of history of the Catalan city.
The Roman dertosathe Turtuxa Visigothic and Andalusian and the Medieval and Renaissance Tortosa They had their heart here. The cathedral is built over the Roman forum, a Visigothic church and the Muslim main mosque. The 55 meters of remains of the Roman wall of the fifth century, Visigothic buckles, Arab coins, Almohad ceramics, 3D reconstructions, audiovisuals … a new obligatory stop on any visit to Tortosa. You have to pick up the ticket at the tourist office – at the moment it is free and later it will surely be included in the Tortosa Card.
6. The old slaughterhouse and the Museum of Tortosa
The old Tortosa slaughterhouse, also the work of Monguió as the Casa Grego, is another of the Modernist constructions most interesting in the city. Its symmetrical pavilions, its color and its decoration with bricks, wrought iron and tiles make it worthy of being on this list of places to see in Tortosa. In addition, next to it is the tourist office. And inside, the Museum of Tortosa, historical and archaeological museum of Terres de l’Ebre. If you have some time, it is worth a visit. And it is also included in the Tortosa Card.
7. The Prince’s Gardens and the medieval wall
There is also an open-air museum what to visit in Tortosa: that of the Prince’s Gardens. In the romantic gardens of an ancient nineteenth-century spa have been placed Twenty-three sculptural groups by the contemporary artist Santiago de Santiago on the theme “Man, his motivation and his destiny». Different moments of life, the stages of relationships, the tragedy of Hiroshima, the conquest of space, a large monolith entitled The Struggle of Humanity – which reminded us a lot of the Vigeland Park in Oslo – … Another curious site and also included in the Tortosa Card.
By the way, from here you can access a Canvas of the wall of the fourteenth century. At the moment it is the only one of the fortifications of the city that can be visited, beyond the castle.
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Near the Prince’s Gardens are the narrow streets of the Old medieval Jewish quarter. The layout has been preserved intact, although almost no original buildings remain. There are signs indicating where places such as the old synagogue, the butcher’s shop, the oven, the pottery were located… Yes, you can still see the Portal of the Jews, which communicated the Jewish quarter with its cemetery and the well of the Plaza de la Figuereta.
8. The bomb shelter
A very important part of the history of Tortosa is the Civil war. During the Battle of the Ebro, the city was systematically bombed. So much so, that two-thirds of its surface was destroyed. Among other measures to protect themselves from these attacks, the Tortosinos built a Twenty bomb shelters. The largest was the Air raid shelter number 4. A system of galleries with dirt pavement and lined with bricks and concrete, with ventilation and electricity, which could accommodate up to four hundred people.
Today it is open to the public and its sound atmosphere we He gave goosebumps to think about what it must have been like to get there to take refuge from the bombs during the war… For Visit the bomb shelter, reservations must be made.
9. The modernist houses
Beyond Grego House, there are a few modernist houses to see in Tortosa, even if it is on the outside. Many of them, in the area of the refuge. We go through:
- the Brunet House, Josep Maria Vaquer, with its striking tribune and wrought iron balconies;
- the Matheu House, by Monguió, with a chamfer also of the most striking;
- the Bau House, by Josep Plantada, with its gallery of arches and wrought iron works;
- the Sabaté House, also by Josep Maria Vaquer, rather historicist, with its curious neo-Egyptian decoration;
- the Pinyana House, by Monguió, with its tiles, plant motifs and forging.
10. The banks of the Ebro and its bridges
The Ebro It is the backbone of the city. So you know, among the places to see in Tortosa There are its banks and its bridges. Next to the Ebro stand buildings such as the Municipal Market, gastronomic temple – also modernist – of the city, or the Neo-Romanesque church of Roser, moved to the other side of the Ebro – Tortosinos love to move buildings!
There is also the Teodor González Municipal Park, where he moved – again! – the Medieval fish market of the fourteenth century. Here the Giant and the Cucaferas. What are cucaferas? Some mythological animals – between dragons and turtles – protagonists of the festivities of Tortosa.
Returning to the Ebro River, you can not miss the views from the State Bridge nor the Red Railway Bridge. You will see that there is no railway… The train track has left room for the Greenway of the Val de Zafán, which starts here and connects Tortosa with Alcañiz and Puebla de Híjar. Oh, when we were there, the monument to the Battle of the Ebro…
10+1. The Ebro from a lute with Lo Sirgador
A century ago there were more than 1,440 lutes –llauts in Catalan– sailing the Ebro from Tortosa. They went up the river thanks to their sails, if the wind blew, or to the sailors who pulled a towpath – a rope – from the shore. These sailors who pulled the ship following the towpath were the sirgadores. Hence the name of the the only lute that continues to sail today on the Ebro: The Sirgador.
Of course, it is a replica, it has an engine and its passengers are tourists. But charm still has a lot. We gave them a Walk of an hour and a half along the Ebro bordering the city, passing under its bridges, reaching the Xiquina Island, with their birds and the Bull Island “Although we didn’t see the bulls.” Views from ten to the dusk, maximum tranquility and even a Pastisset –the typical sweet of Tortosa–, what more could you ask for?
Map with places to see in Tortosa
Here you have our classic map, with all the places to visit in Tortosa.
Where to sleep: our hotel in Tortosa
We have been twice in Tortosa, I only once. The first time JAAC slept in the Parador de Tortosa “Yes, the one in the Zuda Castle– and the other we sleep in the Hotel SB Corona Tortosa. A little further from the center, but with very modern rooms, a small gym – which we use to lower the food, which eats very well around here – and comfortor to leave the car. Both are highly recommended, and here You have more hotels in Tortosa if none of them convinces you.
Where to eat: a restaurant and a pastry shop
For eat We are going to recommend the restaurant Forn de la Canonja, where we were. Not only because its Grill menu It’s great, but also because of the site: it was the Old wood-fired oven of the cathedral, where the canons made bread for themselves and for the poor. In fact, it is glued to it.
You will have to move a little away from the historic center to get closer to Peralta Pastissers, with its Repsol solete and, as we read, one of the best pastry shops in Catalonia. We, of course, went there! Croissants, their bambas, their palm trees…, it was all vice!
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Artículo publicado en saltaconmigo.com