Traces of past cultures

The most ancient archaeological materials of settlements that have survived intact in the ground under Tortosa date back to the 6th Century BC. This helps us to identify from what age there have been permanent settlements on the site where the city stands.

Hibera, a town mentioned by ancient geographers probably coincides with the location laying beneath the current city’s streets. The urban features of the Iberian period in the River Ebro region seem to confirm this: hills overlooking the surrounding land, being easier to defend it, as well as the site’s proximity to waterways for transit and trade.

Greeks and Phoenicians

The river and its nearby mouth in ancient times had an impact on the establishment of trade links with people from around the Mediterranean, Greeks and Phoenicians, while the river also provided a route to penetrate inland and trade with other settlements further from the coast.


The River Ebro was established as a physical border between the Romans and Carthaginians by the Ebro Treaty of 226 BC. When the Romans conquered Hispania, they noticed the site’s strategic location and they founded Dertosa, settling on the hill of Turó de la Suda and the surrounding area. The Via Augusta Roman road crosses the River Ebro in our city.

It was the Romans that gave the city its actual urban structure. It is highly likely that, during this period, the presence of a Jewish population in Tortosa was already evident, which would remain in varying degrees right up to the present day.


During the age of the Visigoths, the region was constituted as a diocese. Recent excavations in front of the modern-day Cathedral have revealed remains of the Roman wall and what appears to be the first Visigoth settlement.

The Muslim Conquest

The muslim domination, which lasted for more than four centuries, left an unmistakable and indelible mark on the city’s urban and commercial development. As a border town, Turtûxa, as it was called, was also a key site in the cultural sphere. From this period it emphasizes the Arab jurist Abu-Bakr at-Turtuixí and the poet and Jewish grammarian Menahem ben Saruq.

The christian conquest

When the city was conquered by Ramon Berenguer IV and his Christian allies in 1148 from the Muslims who had dominated it since the 8th Century, the Saracen community was allowed to stay in the city, just like the Jewish community that had settled in Tortosa during the Roman period.

The Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures lived alongside each other in Tortosa and this cultural blend has characterized the city for centuries, with the heritage from these groups still very visible in the city to this day.

To regulate and distribute these populations and to allocate them land and resources, the two communities were granted security or franchise charters, as they were known. These charters displayed respect and tolerance, recognizing the right to practise their own religion, conserving each community’s legal system, and other guarantees and privileges. However, they had to live in separate neighbourhoods outside the city walls (in the Aljama region). The dominant Christian community settled in the old town, with the Moorish community on the other side of the Carrer de la Cortadura and the Jewish community in the walled dockyard further north. The newly arrived Christians granted them a settlement charter.

The three communities lived alongside each other in the city of Tortosa and the surrounding area relatively peacefully for centuries.

The Royal Colleges

Without a doubt, one of the architectural highlights of the city, which is not to be missed, is the complex of the Reials Col·legis de Tortosa (Royal Colleges of Tortosa), which date back to the 16th Century, and are a demonstration of the city’s splendour during the Renaissance period.

Crossroads of regions

Tortosa has been a key site in situations of conflict, as well as benefiting from trade thanks to its location with people from elsewhere, especially from Aragon and Valencia, but also with Franks, Occitans and even British colonies.

The Museum of Tortosa

The Museum of Tortosa displays a good selection of the remains and heritage of the Iberian, Roman and Visigoth periods in the city. The Roman funeral stele, commissioned by a widow for her husband who had never returned from a sea voyage, is one of the Museum’s key exhibits.

From the Islamic age, the Museum also displays several works of pottery, as well as the founding stone of the dockyards in the 10th Century, which can be seen in the Tortosa Cathedral’s permanent exhibition. There is a copy on the side wall of the Cathedral grounds, next to the Plaça de l’Absis.

From the Christian era, the most representative exhibits are the settlement charter of 1149 and the famous ‘Llibre de Costums de Tortosa’ (Book of Customs of Tortosa).

The voices of the past

Follow their legacy

Renaissance tour

From the Royal Colleges to the cathedral, go through the remains of the splendor of the s. XVI

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Route of the Jewish Quarter

The legacy of the Jewish presence is perceived in the labyrinthine Call

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The Museum of Tortosa

A valuable collection to rebuild the city's past

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Guided tours

Get to know the city with the best guides

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Character-led tours

By the hand of the protagonists of the facts

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The historical legacy

The castle of the Suda

Always guarding, from time immemorial, the city has been defended. It is the best viewpoint in the Ebro valley on the way to Tortosa

The Cathedral

The most significant building, a work of art inside and out that is a true handbook of art

The Royal Colleges

The jewel of the Renaissance, is a unique architectural set in Catalonia