© Patronat de Turisme de la Diputació de Tarragona
The Ebro Delta is the largest wetland area in Catalonia and the most important aquatic habitat in the western Mediterranean, after the Camargue. The Nature Reserve coexists with human activity, with which it maintains a perfect balance.
Despite only being recently formed, the delta has a rich history, gong back to the days of the Greco-Iberian Tanit statuettes found in Camarles until the final creation of the Ebro Delta Natural Park, through decree by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia on 23 October 1986.
From Muslim times, there are customs that remain alive in its folklore, gastronomy and uses, and very precise geographical data is available (Al-Edrisi, 11th century), with lexical and toponymic knowledge. The Xerta’s Arabic “Azud” allows even nowadays irrigation of the delta lands through two channels, opened in 1857 and 1912, revolutionizing the area in economic terms.
After the Reconquest, Tortosa has legislated and regulated the Delta’s wealth. The area’s economic driving force is the port activity of Tortosa. The expedition of Pere III to Sicily embarked from Port Fangos.
The first rice was planted in Carrova in 1607 by the monks of Benifassà. In 1719, the first permits were granted to work the lands near the river.
The entrance to the River Ebro was occasionally blocked by the plague and sometimes due to war. Endemic malaria caused havoc.
In 1926, narrow track railway was a death sentence for river transport, which had been very successful since 1851. Tortosa becomes industrialized, but it also strengthens its agriculture.
The overflows in 1937 shaped today’s existing river mouth. The swamp policy meant an 85% loss of silt that the Delta used to receive, the rectification of which began in 1969.
Finally, in the 1970s, with the arrival of municipal independence for parishes of Tortosa, the Ebro no longer flowed into Tortosa.
The Ebro Delta is the largest wetland area in Catalonia and the most important aquatic habitat in the western Mediterranean after the Camargue. The latest flower catalogues mention 515 species that inhabit the brackish areas, reed beds, paddy fields and riverside woods. The halophilic vegetation should be highlighted. The white water lily and orchid are certainly the most exotic plants.
Invertebrates are abundant and large numbers of insects, arachnids, crustaceans and snakes live there.
The different degrees of salinity support a wide range of very different fish species.
Otters, hedgehogs and weasels are among the most common mammals, but it is the delta birds that have such international significance. The bird population varies from 50,000 to 100,000, from among 300 species, representing 60% of all those existing throughout Europe.
From a tourist point of view, a previous visit to Xerta’s azud is highly recommendable. Later, you should pass through Campredó, l'Aldea and Camarles –all three towns having towers protecting Ebro’s maritime region- finally arriving at the Olles de l'Ampolla reservoir. Once in Deltebre, you will be astounded by the views of la Marquesa, the Eco-Museum, the Old Canal (Canal Vell) and the mobile dunes of Riumar de la Marquesa and you can also enjoy a pleasant cruise down the Ebro River. Once you have come to the end of the river trip, the excursion continues through Sant Jaume d'Enveja (with the Interpretation Centre of Barracas del Delta, the monumental oleander of Balada and the peculiar town planning system of Muntells) to Trabucador and the ornithological museum and information centre of the Casa de Fusta in Poble Nou. After Pantena, Sant Carles de la Ràpida has a Science Museum and wonderful panoramic views of the Delta from Guardiola. If you visit Amposta’s Montsià museum and go as far as Carrova and Vinallop, with the most inland paddy fields, you can be certain you will have just had a magnificent and fascinating journey.