This route includes the city buttresses, walls and fortifications and is intended for you to discover one of the best tourist asset of Tortosa. This route includes the Suda Castle (5), an impressive architectural testimony of the City of Andalusia, which contains the only outdoor Arab cemetery in the whole of Catalonia and a State-Run Hotel.
The practicable itinerary, in its first phase, consists of sections that go through the Avanzadas de San Juan (8), the Suda Castle (5) (heritage of national interest), the Prince’s Gardens (7), Immaculada Square, the Ronda Passage and the Célio Tower (10). The route is marked by informative signs in several languages. These signs and maps are located in the Avançades de Sant Joan, Ronda Passage, Immaculada Square and Célio tower (the latter one is expected to be placed when the works have been completed). There are also signs to follow that help identify the route through the Prince’s Gardens, Avançades de Sant Joan and carrers Vandellós and Figueretas.
The route can be travelled on foot or by bicycle. This way our city offers its visitors the chance to discover and enjoy a new tourist product.
WALLS AND FORTIFIED ENCLOSURES
One of the State’s most representative military architectural complexes of the 17th and 18th centuries can be found in the city of Tortosa, which, as far as quality and size are concerned, has one of the most important fortified areas in the Iberian Peninsula.
Tortosa has been considered a fortified place since ancient times. The fact that it controls both the coastal route to the river mouth and the land road (Via Augusta), the compulsory route between Barcelona and Valencia, has hence made it a very important urban centre for commercial and strategic purposes. The defence and military centre of Tortosa was the key to the River Ebro and the fact that Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon merged into its territory helped its reinforcement over the centuries.
Alongside the Roman wall remains that archaeologists are discovering, the most famous fortified complex of our city is the tenth century castle of “Suda”, located between a hill overlooking the river and the urban network surrounding it. Tortosa, however, preserves the medieval walled in town in different parts of the city, built in the 14th century, from which some of the gateways that were used to control access to the city have remained intact up to now.
All the very elements of a complex construction of this type are present, which means, several moats protected by bulwarks with their corresponding gun ports to place artillery, and other architectural elements such as watch paths, guard forces and covered passages between the different parts of the military complex.
Categorized as a first class fortress, the fifth in Catalonia, was eclipsed in the late 19th century. In 1931 the last remaining detachment left the city, although the city’s garrison had been made up by all branches of the armed forces.
Medieval Walls of Remolins, Torre del Célio (Celio’s Tower) and Porta dels Jueus (Jewish Portal):
This fortified sector extends along the NE of the city walls, where the Remolinos district is located and still preserves, with no changes, its layout and a large section of the Ronda Passage. Most of it corresponds to a stretch of wall, except for the fortified towers at both ends and at the bottom of the cliff the so-called Torre del Célio or Grossa (the large one), and at the highest part what is left of two square towers that have ended up included in the structure of the “Avançades de Sant Joan” to which they are attached. Along this long path, at Figuereta street, it opens up into the Jewish Portal also known as “Porta del Ferre”. This secondary access, right in the heart of the medieval wall that enclosed the Jewish ghetto, led to the Jewish cemetery being created within these walls and when there were huge river floods, it was used to access the gardens outside the walls and the towns on the left river bank.
This sector, mainly from the 14th century, underwent significant changes to the upper part of the wall, where gun holes can be observed and the typical medieval outline of the wall has partly disappeared.
Avançades de Sant Joan:
Building this fortified complex, known as “Avançades” and/or “hornabec”, began in the second half of the 17th century and includes two fortified structures of the epoch and a stretch from a previous fortification.
Access to the inner city is through the first fortified structure. This fortified block has a large long moat and ends in an arrowhead shape and although it is part of a more complex system, it could actually have been completely separate. The upper structure is dominated by several forts and buttresses intertwined with each other (first “avançades”, access path, “revellí”, covered bastion –guard quarters, main moat, courtyard, northern and southern double walls and inner moat).
The second fortified structure is formed by two half buttresses in a polygon layout connected by a stretch of wall. At the far west end it is attached to the 14th century wall, which is separated from the 17th century complex by a narrow deep moat.
Finally, there is the fourteenth century defensive stretch to which the defence complex is connected that has been being built throughout various historical periods.
Fortí del Bonet (The Bonet Fort):
This is part of the second defensive site in the “Rastre”. It is basically composed of a single fortress surrounded by a narrow moat. It is an individual defensive element, but at the same time it is linked to the network of urban fortifications through walls like those in the “Rastre” from the 17th and 18th centuries. The floor plan of the main complex is polygonal and adapted to the hill platform on which it is located. The interior preserves two different levels (on the lower one, there are two underground naves and, on the upper one, gun holes and ports for artillery). The two naves, equipped with barrel vaults, were probably intended for storing gunpowder. There is a large heraldic shield of an unidentified person.
Fortified sector of “Turó del Sitjar”. Tarragona’s Tower and the Victòria, Creus and Sant Crist fortifications
It background is from a medieval lineage that dates back at least to the decade of 1340 but its greatest building work took place between 1367 and 1369. The preserved layout corresponds to the fortification work that began in the second half of the 17th century, when the entire walled in area was adapted to the era’s new military needs. The only medieval element remaining is the former Tarragona Gate, also called portal of Santa Clara or of the Miracle, and the octagonal section tower that is attached to it. The defence system used, called “Vauban”, involves a transition from the square or circular bastion to an angular one. Therefore, the medieval square towers have been replaced by polygonal section ones with suitable orientation to cover all sides of the wall and are prepared for installation of artillery.
The Victoria bastion remains connected to the Bonet fort and to the Creus bulwark through two stretches of wall. Another monumental wall from the 14th century goes down to Santa Clara and the Rastre. There are remains of a pit of remarkable dimensions from “Creus de la Victoria”.
Built in the most southern sector, it is named after the Duke of Orleans, who ordered it to be built, when, during the succession war, the French settled in the city. It stands on a raised platform of great strategic value, difficult to access and was originally connected to Sitjar’s fortified section. It is formed by two half-bastions, one of them with a triangular section and the other a polygonal section, within a very irregular inside area. At the top there are numerous gun ports for artillery and some sides with holes and inside there are narrow vaults and remnants of other underground rooms.
An outdoor fortification building, with no sides, its construction probably took place in the first half of the 18th century and its defensive system was a response to the era’s new military demands. It was designed as an advance defence for the northern sector of the Remolins wall. It had an capacity to accommodate one hundred men. In the late 19th century, when the Military Government disappeared, it was not sold to the city and was, as an exception, bought by a private owner.