España is one of the very few professors I had in my life that taught me life lessons. I never thought a country could teach me so much and show me the differences compared to where I was born and raised. First off, I was born and raised in a suburb of Illinois about 40 minutes southwest of Chicago. I grew up around modern architecture and I never seen ancient architecture unless I was visiting a museum or out of the country. Relatively speaking, America is not that old…241 years to be exact! 241 years old is juvenile compared to how aged other countries are. For instance, España is 506 years old, which is more than double United States; and España had many inhibitors, such as: Iberians, Romans, Arabs and Celtics. What differs from España and United States, which I noticed, is that majority of España’s past inhibitors left behind their architecture and that some still stand to this day! While in Tarragona, a southern coastal city in Catalunya, I saw many pieces of ancient historical Roman architecture.
Overview of the ancient Roman city of Tarragona. Tarragona was established by the Romans around 5th century B.C. and was primarily used for its ports. Interestingly, Tarragona was first called, Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraco. Quite a mouth full! What is interesting about this overview is that one can see a massive structure outside of the walls and near the sea. That structure is the Tarragona’s Amphitheatre and whenever a ship sailed past ancient Tarragona, they would see how strong and powerful the Romans were cause of their architecture. I can relate this to the Statue of Liberty. As foreigners who sailed here, they would see the massive monument along the coast of New York and most likely they were awed and thought of United States as a strong and powerful nation.
The Amphitheatre was built in the 2nd century and held over 14,000 spectators. Primarily, it was used for fights between gladiators, wild animals and public executions. Then in the 6th century a church was built here to commemorate the martyrdom of Bishop Fructuose and his Deacons. One can see the remains of the church…the smaller bridge is extending to it and some of the church’s walls are still standing! Standing in the Amphitheatre made me feel content. It made me feel this way because I love learning about history and have an appreciation for it. In addition, it made me realize how modern day society and ancient history coexist. The Amphitheatre is surrounded by modern architecture and people come across the globe to visit this piece of history.
Beneath the Amphitheatre were tunnels. The tunnel extend quite far and along the sides of the tunnel were rooms. Also, the tunnels had many uses, some were: storage of animals, gladiators would stay here just before a fight, and the surviving gladiators would retreat back here after a victory for alone time with a concubine.
After exploring the city of Tarragona, we hiked through the forest and stumbled upon a nude beach. This was my first time on a nude beach, I did not partake in the full nude experience and do not worry, there are no nudist in the video, just my group members who are in swimsuits. I took this video because as you walk away from the city you are reminded about how beautiful nature is…even if it is just waves crashing along the shore and the sun shinning down on you with no pollution of any sort.
I took a stroll from the beach and stumbled upon a tiny secluded peninsula. As I got out on the peninsula, it was completely quite. All I could hear were the waves crashing and seagulls calling. As I looked to my left all I saw was a lighthouse and when I looked to my right, I could see the outline of the city of Tarragona. I took this stroll to take in nature, to take a minute for myself and to live in the moment.
The Castle of Tamarit is was built in the 11th century. Our brilliant tourguide, Layla, informed us it was built by the Arabs. Astounding how Tarragona has both Roman and Arab architecture! Additionally, back then it was used for defense and residential purposes. Today, it is used for weddings and parties. How cool would it be to have your wedding reception in an 11th century castle. Fun fact, while we were hiking along the castle, we saw a wedding photo shoot!
España you taught me to appreciate what we have today and to take pride in our most famous architecture. The reason is cause in the next 100 years or even longer, what we see today may not be standing and we want to leave something that is beautiful, will be used, and most important that will symbolize our achievement as a nation.