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Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona

8. Tarraco, quanta fuit

Mediaeval Tarragona emerged by taking advantage of the imposing Roman constructions at the top of the Tarragona Hill. However, it would not be until the 16th century, that any interest was shown in the magnificent ruins of antiquity, symbols of a lost splendour.

Two figures exemplify the recovery of the testimonies from our Roman past: Lluís Pons d’Icart and Antoni Agustí. In 1564, Pons d’Icart wrote the Llibre de les grandeses de Tarragona. It proclaimed for the first time the main features of the urban development  of Tarraco. His description was complemented by the sketches made by Anton van den Wyngaerde and the task undertaken by Antoni Agustí, a humanist and archbishop of Tarragona, in the late 16th century.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the effervescence of the Renaissance gave way to a series of epigraphic compilations and a concept of Tarraco based mainly on Pons d’Icart’s work. The 19th century was dominated by Bonaventura Hernández Sanahuja, who left us a written testimony to many of the Roman remains that gradually disappeared over that century.

The National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona was established in the mid-nineteenth century. Over time, it has become the most important centre for the recovery, preservation and dissemination of the heritage of Tarraco and its area of influence

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