Ten reasons to visit Tortosa
1. Tortosa’s history and its rich past
Few cities without the status of provincial capital are as important as Tortosa, which boasts 2000 years of history. Every corner of the beautiful old town is steeped in history. The Iberians chose to settle in what is now the capital of the Baix Ebre region. In fact, historians believe that it may had been the enigmatic and important city of Hibera. If that was indeed the case, the Ebro (Iber) river and the entire peninsula were named after the city. As proof of its splendid past, which saw Romans, Muslims, Jews and Christians pass through, Tortosa boasts the impressive Suda Castle, Saint Mary’s Cathedral and some elegant Modernist buildings. It isn’t known as the city of three cultures (Jewish, Arab and Christian) for nothing. Tortosa experienced its golden age during the Renaissance (16th century).
2. Capital of the Ebro river
The Ebro river is one of Tortosa’s great treasures. The river passes through the city centre and can be seen from its bridges and riverside walks, which provide the perfect opportunity to observe and appreciate it. Its residents have a profound affinity with this river, which plays a special, inescapable role in their lives. Visitors can also experience the Ebro’s special charm on board Lo Sirgador, Tortosa’s felucca, as they take a tour of the river and its scenery. Experiencing a sunset on board Lo Sirgador and contemplating the river as the sun disappears behind the Els Ports massif is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
3. Between two natural parks
Tortosa is straddled by two natural parks, the Ebro Delta and the Els Ports Natural Park, and is located in the heart of the Terres de l’Ebre, declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Its proximity to such natural wealth, which is reflected in its beaches and mountain landscapes, makes Tortosa the ideal destination to explore the whole area. Tortosa is surrounded by nature and offers a whole range of outdoor options, such as going on a bike ride along the Green Route, hiking in the mountains and enjoying a boat trip along the river or the delta.
4. The city of three cultures
Historically speaking, Tortosa is unique and different. Tortosa is one of the few places where the three great monotheistic cultures and religions coexisted in the Middle Ages: Christian, Muslim (Saracen) and Hebrew (Jewish). In 1148, once Ramon Berenguer IV had captured the city from the Muslims who had dominated it since the 8th century, the Saracen community was allowed to stay in it, like the Jews who had settled in Tortosa during the Roman period. The three communities coexisted relatively peacefully in Tortosa for centuries.
During the second fortnight in July, Tortosa celebrates the Renaissance Festival. With the slogan ‘The splendour of a 16th-century city’, the festival commemorates this historical period, one of the richest and most interesting moments for the city. The festival, which has been declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest, offers a wide range of recreational and cultural activities, with about 60 shows a day and thousands of people in period dress. It is one of Tortosa’s key events. For four days, the city takes an intensive, immersive trip to the past.
Tortosa’s location means that it enjoys a wide range of the region’s finest-quality produce: fish, shellfish, the prized rice of the Ebro Delta, agricultural produce, vegetables and fruit, and the city’s traditional sweets, such as pastissets. All of this can be found at the Municipal Market, a Modernist building in the city centre. Tortosa boasts numerous restaurants and establishments that prepare dishes using local products. Also close to Tortosa there are some Michelin-starred restaurants.
7. Quality of life
Away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, Tortosa is set amidst a remarkable natural paradise, but also boasts all the services and amenities of a small city that can be explored on foot. It is the ideal destination for taking leisurely strolls through the streets of the centre and the old town and enjoying relaxing family holidays. Its friendly residents will welcome you and make you feel at home.
8. The culture
Music, art, heritage, theater, cinema … For those who love culture, the rich artistic dynamics of Tortosa will be a good reason to visit it. The city counts, for its privileged history, with the Museum of Tortosa Historical and Archaeological of Terres de l’Ebre, the most outstanding Jazz Show, a festival of ephemeral interventions in the courtyards of monumental buildings and an Eco & Tourism Film Festival (unique in the Iberian Peninsula), among other proposals.
9. A strategic location
As the largest city in the Terres de l’Ebre, with a location right in the middle of the region, Tortosa is the capital of the territory. In addition to the Ebro Delta Natural Park and Els Ports Natural Park, Tortosa is perfectly situated to allow visitors to explore the rest of the Terres de l’Ebre and its treasures: the fishing villages with their rich gastronomy, the traditions and handicrafts of the inland villages, the sites of the Battle of the Ebro and the famous OD Terra Alta wine. Tortosa is 200 kilometres from Barcelona, and exactly the same distance from Valencia and Zaragoza, which has made it a strategic location throughout history.
Tortosa is 200 kilometres from Barcelona, and exactly the same distance from Valencia and Zaragoza, which has made it a strategic location throughout history.
10.Traditions and folklore
Traditions are very much alive in Tortosa. Tortosa’s Holy Week, for example, attracts thousands of visitors every year. In fact, Tortosa is the only Catalan city that has a Holy Week Interpretation Centre open all year round, where visitors can learn about the floats used in the processions, genuine works of art. The jota dance is also popular in Tortosa, and the city is steeped in rich folkloric traditions, with giants, capgrossos (figures with huge heads) and the cucafera, the most beloved mythical animal of all.