The Tarraco that the Emperor Hadrian gazed upon during his stay from 122 to 123 AD was the result of an intense transformation of the city that had extended through the 1st century and culminated in the construction of the amphitheatre. Although the process of monumentalisation had begun in the first half of the 1st century, it was in the Flavian period (from 69 to 96 AD) when public building was at its peak and, upon a hilltop, an enormous and magnificent architectonic complex was erected, arranged on terraces occupied by the imperial worship enclosure, a large square for performances and where the circus was held.
These were public complexes associated with the noble classes' assembly venue, who met in Tarraco once a year to choose the flamen who would preside over the imperial worship ceremonies together with the administrative bodies of the province. This urban development was the result of the importance given to Hispania under the Flavian emperors, substantiated by Vespasian's granting of Latin Rights to the province in the year 69 AD. Shortly after the construction of the amphitheatre in the early 2nd century, the first indications of the city's decline began to surface, but this would not clearly manifest itself until the end of the following century.